Is There Only One Church Planting Model?

Models, methods, paradigms and programs—how do you know which is right?

church planting model

Is there only one church planting model? Not according to our experts. Dive deep into these two church planting models. Which is best for you?

Quiz: Which text in the New Testament gives us the imperative to plant churches?

If you have an answer, share it in the comment section. In the meantime, keep reading!

Church Planting Model #1:

In 2001, my wife and I accepted the generous gift of free registrations and accommodations to a Church Planters Bootcamp in the denomination we were serving. We had actually already started a church a couple of months before the seminar, but our district leadership thought it would be helpful to us. It was. We learned a lot, and we used the things we learned for several years after that. When the workshop began, the leaders told us,

“We are not going to give you a mission statement or a mindset. You get to dream your own dream and develop your own vision. We simply want to give you the tools and methods you need to live your mission and see it become a reality.”

When we left that weekend event, we had …

1. A carefully written mission statement (ours was “Reaching and Discipling Entire Families for Jesus Christ”).

2. A calendar of ministry events for our first year of ministry (think Christmas, Easter, etc.).

3. An outline of all the ministry departments and leaders for each position that we’d need to fill (think admin, worship, kids, youth, etc.).

4. A budget of our first-year expenses and a list of all the things we needed to buy to do ministry (think sound, furnishings, technology, etc.).

5. A plan for raising support and encouraging our church members to tithe (think teaching, letter-writing, solicitation, etc.).

6. A clear set of goals for promoting the church and accommodating the growth we anticipated (think mailers, newspaper, website, letters, etc.)

In short, we spent the entire weekend focused on the methods, techniques and mechanisms by which we would “do” church for our first year. We were assigned a church planting coach (who was an incredible friend and blessing to us personally), and we were sent back home with prayer and encouragement to launch a great church.

That first year, we met most of our goals, including growing our staff, securing a long-term rental facility, renting a church office, starting a worship ministry, a children’s ministry, a youth ministry, and a men’s and women’s ministry. At the end of the first year, our supervisor told us, “Your church plant is waaaaay beyond the norm in every way.”

We were invited to attend the church planters seminar for the next two years to share our ideas and to coach other new church planters in the methodology we had learned.

Here is the basic flow and diagram of the church planting process in the paradigm we used to plant our first church.

1. A coalition of churches (e.g., our denomination/movement) sponsored us as …

2. The leaders of …

3. A new church plant that would be focused on …

4. Making disciples …


After 12 years of ministry following our first church planting experience, we personally gave around $100,000 of our own money to the church we started. The total income over our 12 years was about 3.5 million dollars, and we spent about 3.2 million of that on the functions of the church organization and put the rest in the bank. We probably baptized about eight to 10 people per year (maybe 100 people during our 12 years) and saw a few dozen people make first-time commitments to Jesus (though it’s impossible to really count how many there were).

We spent tens of thousands of dollars on office rentals, tens of thousands of dollars on vehicles and trailers and equipment, supplies and utilities, tens of thousands of dollars on rental space and equipment for our Sunday gatherings, hundreds of thousands of dollars on payroll and benefits for staff, and tens of thousands of dollars on missions (largely through missionary sponsorship through our denomination—though a few people took missions trips in the church).

We also spent tens of thousands of dollars on benevolence for members of the church. What’s the point? It was very expensive. I’m not sure how many people we lead to the Lord who actually became fully devoted followers of Jesus and eventual leaders who could reproduce disciples. I know there were a few, but in all, our emphasis was on ministering to our members through our Sunday gatherings, men’s, women’s, youth and children’s ministries, and weekly small groups and classes.

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Kenny Burchard
Kenny Burchard, his wife, MaryJo, (married 1992), and their son, Victor, live in Virginia Beach, VA, where he works with Operation Smile. He is an ordained Foursquare pastor and has served as a worship leader, church planter, lead pastor and Bible teacher since 1994. He has a B.A. in Organizational Leadership and an M.A. in New Testament and is a regular blogger at Think Theology. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.