Planting Your First Church

From my perspective today, here are some of the priorities I would encourage you to consider as you venture out in obedience to Christ to make disciples and form your first disciple-making community (aka church):

Make Disciples: Begin with the end in view, i.e. disciples who make disciples. Do not allow the goal or challenges of planting a church to allow you to loose sight of the foundational purpose of the church, i.e. to make disciples like Jesus who engage the powers of darkness and extend the Kingdom of God.

Prayer: Gather a prayer team who will stand with you in the task of extending the Kingdom of God against the powers of darkness. There are many ways to mobilize prayer for your venture. First devote much time in prayer personally. For a training PowerPoint I've shared with church planters summarizing my learnings over the years please click here.

Call and gifting: It's important to be conscious of your call and giftings. Clarity in your call from the Lord will help you through the difficult days. Clarity on your strengths and weaknesses will help you develop complementary core team of leaders around you. You may benefit from this self-evaluation.

Core Team: gather a team who share your vision and can help you shape and develop effective churches in the future. Gather leaders who share your core vision, values and mission but with gifts that are complimentary to yours. Seek especially leaders with stronger gifts than your own.

Vision, Values and Mission: Be clear on the kind of disciple-making community you will seek to form and how you will do so. For a PowerPoint to assist in developing your mission statement, please click here.

Coach: Find a coach who you can meet with (in person or virtually), ideally on a weekly, every-other week or monthly basis, who is committed to the success of your vision and will ask you the important questions along the way to help clarify what you should focus for the next step.

Peer support group/Learning community: Find or form a small informal or more structured prayer, sharing and learning community with other disciple-making church planters, either near or far from you. There will be much encouragement and new ideas in these relationships for you.

The Blessing of Others: If you are entering a community where other churches are already reaching out in the name of Jesus, connect with the leaders of those churches and join their prayer group if they've formed one, if these leaders aren't already praying together help them form such a prayer group, seek their blessing and seek to be a blessing to them.

To this point the goal contains the above common elements. What follows are steps and resources specific to two basic models of church:

Small Group-based Church:

Program-based Church:

Much helpful has been written including:





Because a program-based church is more complex than a small group-based church, you may want to consider the following additional steps or components:

  1. Pray much...

  2. Read material outlining the learnings of other church planters. Many helpful manuals have been written including DCPI's Church Planting Handbook - (Becker, Carpenter).

  3. Understand your community through:

  • Personal Conversation - Rick Warren developed Five Questions which I've found very helpful and commend to you: in Doc or PDF format.

  • Demographics - national or local governments in many countries will make available general information about the people in your community which will help supplement your understanding and develop means to serve them.

  1. Begin to make disciples before you begin the church. By this means you will begin with the purpose of the church.

  2. Begin to serve the community before you begin the church. By this means you will begin with the purpose of the church.

  3. Draft Your Plan: Overview of Pre-Launch Questions and Steps: a training resource in PowerPoint

  4. Prospect List: Keep an accurate database of people who are or may be interested in the new church and communicate with them regularly.

  5. Begin with small groups: There are many forms of small groups and most are useful in building supportive community and incorporating new disciples. As you move towards the goal of multiplying disciples, I suggest training small group leaders in the principles of Discovery Bible Study.

  6. Public worship: Do not begin public worship until several small groups are functioning effectively and have already multiplied.