- How does a brand new church plant actually begin?
- How does it grow?
- How does a church planter know when the church plant is no longer a church plant and has become a full-fledged church?
Five Stages of Church Planting
There are five stages in the church planting process. In each of these stages, the church planter is not working alone. He is receiving guidance and support from a core group, a Transitional Leadership Team, and the coaches and mentors from the Church Extension Staff.
In general, it takes an average of five years for a church plant to move from an idea to a graduated, particular Bible Fellowship Church. Keep in mind that each church planting process is unique so these stages and the time line look slightly different for every church plant. If a church in decline and is looking to restart, they will go through this process as well.
Stage 1: Identification and Approval
When a church plant is started from scratch, a potential location is mentioned to the Director or a board member and then prayerfully considered. A demographic study is conducted to see at a glance the people of the community and what churches already exist in the area. The needs and resources are assessed to see if a church plant in the area is financially sustainable. If the potential church plant seems viable, a church planter is called and trained and takes the reigns for the next church planting stage.
Stage 2: Cultivating and Gathering
In the cultivating and gathering stage, the church planter develops a vision and a strategy for how he will reach the community. He will spend time in the community and talk with people he meets along the way to build relationships. He will create an online presence to reach the community. The core group leadership team meets together regularly for prayer and vision casting. A date is set for the public launch of the church plant.
Stage 3: Development
In the development stage, the church plant is soft launched with the core group. The church planter trains leaders. He will follow up with people in the community who are interested in Christ and in the new church. He will design the worship service to accurately reflect the truth of Christ and the culture of the community. Finally, the public launch is held!
Stage 4: Growth to Maturity
In the growth to maturity stage, the church planter continues to train and equip those who serve in the church plant. He also follows up with visitors to hear what their needs are and to discern how God can use the church to meet those needs. Small groups are developed. The church planter also keeps careful records to report to the board of Church Extension. As God’s Word is preached and taught and as people come to faith in Jesus Christ, the church will grow.
Stage 5: Graduation
Once the church plant has grown to the point of financial stability and has reached the required number of committed participants and elder candidates, the church will begin the process of graduation. The assessment team from the Board of Church Extension will spend a day will the church to hear how God has been working through the church plant. Once the assessment is approved, the church plant will graduate from Church Extension and be celebrated as a particular Bible Fellowship Church.
You can find more details about the process in the free ebook The BFC Church Planting Guide. The guide breaks down each stage into small, doable action steps.
Church Planters Needed
If you are interested in church planting with us, please fill out and submit the simple form below and we will contact you as soon as possible. You can also use this downloadable form. You can email the form to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail it to Church Extension Ministries, PO Box 3534, Allentown, PA 18106.