7 Essentials of a Successful Church Planter

"Your success is 100% dependent on your ability to multiply leaders."

The last few weeks I’ve had conversations with a number of different church planters, heads of church planting for denominations, trainers, etc. After some of those conversations, I am increasingly seeing these things as the most essential ingredients for a successful church plant:

1. Two-Year Immersive Training

If we are going to be planting churches that look quite different from models we’ve seen in the past using vehicles that are new and foreign to us like Missional Communities and Huddles, we will benefit from knowing how to use them before trying to plant. It doesn’t mean you can’t learn them while planting, but having done that personally, the odds are definitely against you.

However, spending two years in a church using these vehicles, principles and methods already will decrease your learning curve significantly. Having talked to a good number of people and having done it myself, I don’t see how that can be achieved in less than two years. Good training is for the patient, yes?

2. Reproductive DNA of Discipleship and Mission from DAY ONE 

Regardless of how you’re starting or what vehicles you use, you have to know in your gut that, going into it, you know how to pass on the DNA of discipleship and mission so disciples who make disciples happens from day one. And you have to know it works before you launch. There are going to be lots of places to make mistakes and plenty you have to figure out as you go, but this is one you want confidence in from the beginning. Your success is 100 percent dependent on your ability to multiply leaders.

3. Alternative Economic Engine

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One of the most under-discussed items of church planting today is how the future of church planting will require wildly different funding streams than raising support and denominational giving. Sure, both of those will still be there, but certainly not in the amountwe see them now. Successful church plants will have an economic engine that helps fund the plant regardless of these other two realities. In the NT, we see churches funding themselves through GIVE, SHARE and MAKE. We’re doing the giving and the sharing well. It’s time to focus on the making. We need economic engines that can be used for these unique Kingdom ventures.

4. Pre-Existing Oikos of at Least 15 Adults 

There seem to be two extremes that exist in church planting. Either it’s a couple that is parachuted into a place and they know no one, or it’s a bud off of a church or recruiting team of 40-plus people who are the scaffolding who get the church off the ground and then leave the church. I’d like to suggest successful church plants in the future will have, at the center of it, at least 15 adults who are acting as an extended family on mission together. But they will already know how to do that before launching the church. That oikos already exists. It’s amazing to see the gravitational pull an already-existing oikos has.

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Doug Paul
Doug Paul serves as the Director of Content at 3DM, where he works alongside Mike Breen developing books, blogs, webinars, whitepapers and other content initiatives. Before moving to Pawleys Island, SC, he served as a Teaching Pastor and Director of Multi-Site at a church in Richmond, VA. He went on to plant a church using Missional Communities and Huddles while participating in 3DMs first Learning Community.
  • Jim Kilmartin

    When a family that was part of the scaffolding decides it’s time to leave (after 1 year), what is the proper way of handling their departure? Blessing them. They want to say a few words at the Sunday service.