10 Steps to Effective Church Planting

Over the last 20 years I have had the opportunity to observe and participate in new church development both in America and overseas in Cambodia. I had the unfortunate circumstance to close the doors and do exit interviews with members of a church planted through telemarketing; was a charter member of a new church started by the Mother church method; was (along with my wife) the fourth family to join another church plant begun as a house church; and finally had the privilege to organize another new congregation in a cross-cultural setting. The ten steps of church planting come from the lessons I learned from my experiences.

Preliminary step: The ten steps assume that a founding pastor has already been selected, but if that is not the case then a necessary preliminary step is to select a church planting pastor with the right spiritual gift mix and physical stamina for the job.  Those who answer the call of new church development are nearly jack of all trades. Usually those who start new churches have a mix of evangelism, leadership, some shepherding skills, and administration gifts.

1. Develop Personal Self-Discipline in Your Walk with Jesus

2. Strengthen Your Prayer Life and Pray Daily for God's Guidance

3. Pre-determine the Core Values of the New Church Plant

4. Select Your Main Target Location and Audience

5. Select The Church Planting Method Most Appropriate for Your Style and Target Area

6. Operate on a Modest Budget

7. Find an Easy Access Facility Appropriate for Your Target Area and Budget

8. Design a Plan for Networking, Evangelism, Follow-up, and Discipleship Training

9. Get Out and Meet the People

10. Get People Involved as Soon as Possible

Step One: Develop Personal Self-Discipline in Your Walk with God

New church development can be extremely lonely at times and often there is little accountability for personal growth and good time management. Learning to be self-disciplined is an essential characteristic for church planting pastors. This means staying in God's Word and cultivating a close and vibrant one-on-one relationship the Lord who called you.

Step Two: Strengthen Your Prayer Life and Pray Continually

The Bible says that unless God builds the house, the builders build in vain. It is possible for a charismatic person to organize a great organization or club, but impossible for anyone to plant a church that is pleasing to God unless they rely on God to make it happen. Prayer is the act of admitting that God's will cannot be accomplished unless God is in it. If the Lord is not directing the new church plant, then like Moses the church planter should refuse to continue the effort.

Step Three: Pre-Determine the Core Values of the New Church

While most Christian churches adhere to the same core doctrines, not all churches emphasize the same core values. Before the church planting pastor begins reaching out to the neighborhood, he should sit down (and if possible with his spouse and other willing volunteers) and determine the core values or underlying assumptions upon which the church will operate. Most likely these values will coincide with the gift mix and personality style of the leadership.

Step Four: Select Your Target Area and Audience

Effective new church development defines its target area and audience. Undoubtedly, God's church is open to all comers, but few churches if any can be all things to all people, especially new church plants. This is not an American marketing ploy. When Saddleback Church began its ministry in 1979-80, Rick and Kay Warren took the time to scope out the area and define Saddleback Sam and Sally, so that they knew how to reach out and touch them in a way that they would respond. Of course, you want to teach everyone about Jesus, but who is your primary audience? Which segment of the population are you best suited to touch with the gospel?

Step Five: Select the Church Planting Method Most Appropriate for Your Chosen Location

There are a number of ways to start a new church. The first church I pastored was begun through telemarketing in a campaign called Phones 4 You. It was a phenomenal way to get the word out about a new congregation in town. The idea was based on the law of large numbers. For this particular start-up, the planting team made 20,000 phone calls to folks in the target area and on the first day over 200 people showed up for the Easter Sunday service. Another way to plant a church is by the Mother church/daughter church method. By this way a large church decides to start a new congregation in a new part of town, selects a pastor staff, and encourages a block of the existing congregation to help out in the beginning stages of the new church. The mother church also helps defray start up costs with special contributions. A third and probably most common manner to start a church is begin a grass roots effort by way of a Bible study meeting in a house. Neighbors are invited and the group grows until it is a church in its own right. The method most appropriate for your situation will be determined by the available resources and support.

Step Six: Operate on a Modest Budget

One church plant I observed had everything going for it including experienced elders and core members, but its initial budget was beyond the means of the new fledgling congregation. New church groups will be filled with people who barely know about God and Jesus and who know very little about who to support the work of the ministry. Many will be reluctant to give their money at least in the beginning.

Step Seven: Find an Easy Access Location and Facility

Location. Location. Location. Effective church plants meet in locations which are easy to find and have plenty of parking. They may not afford a corner lot but the will go for the next best thing in accordance with their budget.

Step Eight: Design a Plan for Networking, Evangelism, Follow Up and Discipleship Training

Successful new church development is not done in a haphazard manner. It functions best by purpose and intentionality. So before you go out and storm the neighborhood, you have to prepare a step-by-step plan for meeting new people, telling them the good news about Jesus, following up and assimilating them into the congregation, and teaching them how to be disciples of Jesus.

Step Nine: Get Out and Meet the People

Once you have found the place and designed a plan, you have to get out and carry out the plan. Church planting is all about getting out and touching people's lives with Jesus. If you are using the home Bible study, grass roots method of new church development, one effective tool to get to know the people in your neighborhood is to partner with a group like Canning Hunger and collect can food for a local hunger shelter or something like that. Each weekend of the month, you and other members of your planting team go door to door asking for donations for a food bank that helps the poor. As you make the journey each week, your neighbors will get to know you and soon you will have opportunities to invite them to a home Bible study or to your new church. The walk acts like an icebreaker to meet people and tell them about God's great love.

Step Ten: Get People Involved as Soon as Possible

People stick around when they have an emotional attachment to the church. The sooner you can trust them in the work of the ministry, they sooner they will assimilate into the church body and feel a connection to the congregation. Some church planting pastors want the new people to be perfect Christians before they trust them to help with God's work. But, God has given each person gifts to share in the workload of the ministry.

Remember That Ultimately The Church Belongs to God.

Pastor Sam Barr in comment made in November 2010, reminds us of this important point. Utlimately, the church will grow and thrive according to God's sovereign will. In the end, the church belongs to the Lord and if the Lord does not build the church then the church planters plant in vain (Psalm 127:1).

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Comments 37 comments

Destined To Win profile image

Destined To Win 7 years ago

Enjoyed your article on church planting. We have used the Mother/Daughter method. The church I am privileged to pastor has birthed two churches in the past 12 years and that is a process we intend to continue. You are so right when you said, "People stick around when they have an emotional attachment." To help facilitate that process we now have a member of our ministry whose sole assignment is "assimilation." Thanks again for your marvelous hub.

ecoggins profile image

ecoggins 7 years ago from Corona, California Author

Destined to Win: Thank you for your encouraging comment.

The Rope profile image

The Rope 7 years ago from SE US

WHEW! THANKS! Easily laid out and direct. I am currently the lay leader for a church that had to let its pastor go in April due to lack of funding. The congregation chose to stay together but we've faced a lot of challenges in these last months. Your reminders above are timely for me and I appreciate the message you bring...

ecoggins profile image

ecoggins 7 years ago from Corona, California Author

To The Rope. I pray your congregation will blossom in its mission to reach and teach others for God and his Son Jesus Christ.

favour 7 years ago

thanks for ur advice on how to start but i av a challenge. i av started a fellowship at home and i know the Lord is asking me to plant a church on full time but in the fellowship presently i have only one lady who is very dedicated. hwhat do i do? how can we both plant a church with all that you have listed.. please help me. thanks

favour 7 years ago

thanks for ur advice on how to start but i av a challenge. i av started a fellowship at home and i know the Lord is asking me to plant a church on full time but in the fellowship presently i have only one lady who is very dedicated. hwhat do i do? how can we both plant a church with all that you have listed.. please help me. thanks

ecoggins profile image

ecoggins 7 years ago from Corona, California Author

To favour: Thank you for the insightful questions. I think the first step is to build up your house church to at least thirty adults. There is a movement now called the "Simple Church" which is a small church meeting in a person's home (similar to what your are doing now).

A great resource for building up a house church is Project Unleashed directed by Danae Stewart. She has a Ph.D. in how to build up simple churches and I recommend that you contact her @ www.projectunleashed.com.

The last church I helped plant began with 10 families meeting in the original pastor's home just like yours. Together the 10 families gave enough support to rent space in a small movie theater each Sunday. Then we called about 2000 residences in our target area and invited them to come to our grand opening on an Easter Sunday morning. Altogether about 300 adults and children came on the opening Sunday. The important thing is to be prayerful in each step as the Lord leads you.

nancy 7 years ago

i am a born again christian who beleive that i am called for the masters work.But i don't know what to do.This steps are wonderful.God bless.

ecoggins profile image

ecoggins 7 years ago from Corona, California Author

Dear Nancy, thank you for your comment. I pray that the Lord will grow your ministry as you develop your gift to do his work. God bless you.

Ntombi 6 years ago

greetings in the name of Jesus. wonderful is your work.

Victory1 6 years ago

Thanks so much. I am in the process of starting a Bible study in my home and this was right on time!

ecoggins profile image

ecoggins 6 years ago from Corona, California Author

Victory1, I praise the Lord that this article was an encouragement to you. I pray that the Lord will bless your study and mulitply your influence.

LeslieAdrienne profile image

LeslieAdrienne 6 years ago from Georgia

Thank you so much for this hub. The information is very useful...we are often so zealous about the move of God that we don't sit still long enough to hear the plan of God...thanks again

ecoggins profile image

ecoggins 6 years ago from Corona, California Author

Leslie, thank you too for reaching out and writing such inspiring comments. I have been moved by each comment you have left.

ROYAL 6 years ago


RevJim 6 years ago

The information you've presented is very helpful. I serve as a Campus Pastor of satelite birthed of a thriving mother church. I have hit the neighborhoods with door hangers and printed material. I personally speak to folks when I can. I don't have a team per se so in between message prep for the 30 or that I have for 2 services a week, the street piece is hard to squeeze in. I'm in the upper midwest which will be a frozen tundra soon as well. What are your feelings on electronic media? TV, Radio, Internet and like. It seems like the printed material gets very limited response....thanks again

ecoggins profile image

ecoggins 6 years ago from Corona, California Author

RevJim, I praise God that you found this information helpful. And, I am impressed that you are willing to get out in the neighborhood to meet the people in your area. I believe electornic media is fine depending on the situation. If you live in a place where you are hindered by inclimate weather for long periods during the winter, establishing a website where you upload webcasts is a fine way to reach at least some. Who knows your webcast might be picked up by someone in Australia, South Africa, or even Hong Kong who gets fired up by the Holy Spirit and starts a revival that expands the whole world. As long as the message is biblical and your heart and motives are in the right place use whatever you need to use for God's glory.

W lee 6 years ago

Good stuff well laid out. I am a staff Pastor who will be planting a mother / daughter church. I am wondering if I can mix some aspects of the Models?

ecoggins profile image

ecoggins 6 years ago from Corona, California Author

W lee - from my experience God is not tied to a particular method so I believe you can mix methods. The last church plant I was involved in here in the US used four methods including names and financial support from a mother church in a nearby city, phone calls to 7,000 homes in the area, door-to-door campaigning and mass mailers. The most important part is to build a genuine personal relationship with God and to listen carefully to the leading of his Spirit and not to allow yourself to count success in the same way the world counts success.

Rev Johnny 6 years ago

Great Idea's and a starting point in starting a church. I have been in street ministry for many years. I have lead Men's ministry, prison Ministry, Motorcycle Ministry and Youth Ministry. Recently i have had a prompting from the Lord to Launch a church. I have a very specific demographic of people the Lord has put on my heart and now am praying for a location. Please pray for me and that God has already prepared the hearts for the folks we are about to call......Thanks for the article and especially the prayers.

ecoggins profile image

ecoggins 6 years ago from Corona, California Author

Dear Heavenly Father, I want to pray for Rev Johnny. I ask Lord that you will bless his effort to plant a church in the place you are calling him. I pray Lord that you will grant him your Holy Spirit to lead and guide him in the new ministry that you might be glorified in every part of it. Give him wisdom, patience and stamina and fill his mind and mouth with your message to teach and preach in a way that honors you and leads many into your kingdom. In Jesus' name, Amen.

pastor sam barr profile image

pastor sam barr 6 years ago from U.K

Hi and blessings to you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, nice article as long as we remember that the Lord our God is the true Master builder and the reminder to us is in 1 COR 3v7 So then,neither is he that plants anything, nor he that waters, but GOD that gives the increase.......every blessing.

ecoggins profile image

ecoggins 6 years ago from Corona, California Author

pastor sam barr, yes you are sooo very correct. Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders build in vain. Well said, I appreciate your comment.

John Worcester 6 years ago

Good article. We are catalyzing A Church Planting Alliance to fill San Diego with healthy churches. John.Worcester@gmail.com

ecoggins profile image

ecoggins 6 years ago from Corona, California Author

John, I pray the Lord will bless your Alliance that many more may come to know the love, grace, and peace that comes from knowing Jesus.

minakay profile image

minakay 6 years ago from Rivers State, Nigeria

I am overwhelmed. Hubpages has really brought me into a family of God's exceptional people. Thank you for adding value to my life and Ministry. Incidentally, I have just been given a new station to pastor.

ecoggins profile image

ecoggins 6 years ago from Corona, California Author

Minakay - I pray the Lord will bless you in your new ministry assignment. Dear Heavenly Father, we praise you that you have allowed us to be your children and participants in your divine redemptive work. I pray for Pastor Minakay that you will anoint and fill him with the presence and power of your Holy Spirit to be a bold witness for your kingdom. Grant him discernment and wisdom and a passion to teach your Word in season and out of season. In Jesus' mighty name amen.

yong 5 years ago

We have started a new church with 2 families in Hong Kong, and would highly appreciate if you could introduce friends who would like to plant a new church with us. Contact me for more info at radiant.chuchhk@gmail.com

ecoggins profile image

ecoggins 5 years ago from Corona, California Author

Yong, Thank you for sharing about your new church. I pray that your church will touch many lives and introduce many to Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God. I also pray that the Holy Spirit will fill you and the others in your church with the fullness of his power and grace.

jc43351 profile image

jc43351 5 years ago from Ohio

From time to time I have thought of wanting to do church planting although I do not feel at the mement I am able to do so. Main reason I am going to Bible School right now. I am hoping to do some church planting in the fture (unless of course I am raptured first).

I think everything should start with prayer. Whether its church planting or just sitting down for a meal. The rest will all fall into place once we are in communication with our Father and Lord. Being daily in prayer and in the word of God should be priority after being saved anyway and continue to be a priority for the rest of your life. We always need to have that communication with our God its the most crucial in anything and everything we do. Who knows more about church planting then our Lord and Saviour? He started the first church and once His church is established it will last forever.

Thank you for sharing and God bless :)

tinytots 5 years ago

Servant of God I wanted some tips on church planting methods for my assignment then I found this useful information. I will use your views for my own ministry. Well stated! Excellent!

ecoggins profile image

ecoggins 5 years ago from Corona, California Author

tinytots, I praise God in heaven that you found this information useful. May the Lord bless your efforts to his glory.

Emma Nelson Mugabe 4 years ago

Thanks a lot.may God bless you for your teaching to me.

ecoggins profile image

ecoggins 4 years ago from Corona, California Author

Hi Emma, may God bless you too and grant you success in your endeavors as you seek to glorify his name.

celafoe profile image

celafoe 3 years ago from Planet earth. between the oceans

of course , as usual the plan and pattern of the apostate church ,a pastor and "his" staff are used. when the pattern for the church in the new testament is to get away from the pattern of the tabernacle with its priests and hierarchy that is no longer needed because the veil of the temple is rent and God is out of the box , now living in the living stones of HIS true church.

No longer is it building with a man standing before the people telling them what to do and how to do it. But is to be a group of believers coming together in His name , wherever they choose to meet, with each of them bring what God has given them to share. With plural elders that are equal in all respects the the other with the exception that they have more responsibilities and are required to serve. Quite different than the churches of men as described here.

It is so sad that people listen and do not read and study their bibles and see what the true church of Jesus Christ really is.

Luke 22:25 And He said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called 'benefactors.' 26 But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. 27 For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.


ecoggins profile image

ecoggins 3 years ago from Corona, California Author

Thank you Celafoe, I appreciate your insights.

JC 14 months ago

Thank you very much for your article and God bless you. We are in the process of planting a church using the mother/daughter model. One of the Pastors in our church feels led by the Spirit to start a community church in his area. We are fellow Pastors with him and together with our senior Pastors we have been praying for this. We will be planting this church in the very near future. Please pray for us that this will be a sustainable ministry

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    Church planting is an opportunity to partner with God to bring the light and love of Jesus Christ to a new neighborhood. These are only a few vital steps to successful church planting. 

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