Growing Church Plants

Sam Rainer

April 24, 2007

Ed Stetzer and company at the North American Mission Board recently unveiled some research that shows why some church plants experience higher rates of growth than others. Below is a summary of the ten factors revealed in this research that proved to be the most successful in helping a church plant grow:

Location: Schools prove to be excellent locations for church plants for two three big reasons – visibility, space, and low cost.

Ministry: In general, the best way to reach new families is reaching the children first.

Promotion: In short, the most successful church plants publish their purpose. They let the community know what they are about.

Training: Those churches that provide avenues for discipleship upfront assimilate new members better.

Expectations: The churches in this research study required new members to sign a church covenant.

Finances: Church plants that experienced the most growth were the most serious about becoming self-sufficient and supporting their church planters financially.

Staff: These churches got the right leaders on the bus from the beginning and placed them in the right seat on the bus. In other words, the church planters were involved in the areas of ministry that correctly reflected their passions.

Missions: Those church plants that were the most successful were looking to plant other churches within at least three years after their own initial church plant. These churches were looking outward from the beginning.

Leadership: Successful church plants develop strong leaders from within. They train up their own.

Achievement: The church planters that saw the most success with their churches had a big vision because they saw what God was capable of doing.

What do you think? Is there anything that you would add? Though it wasn’t explicitly mentioned in the article, I would venture a guess that these churches were also highly evangelistic as well. And this evangelistic fire probably was started by the pastor/leaders of the church.

7 comments on “Growing Church Plants”

  1. Brian says:

    I think that the shiny-newness of it all is probably a contributing factor. People like to be a part of something revolutionary and risky. Also, the rawness of a church plant – the fresh upturned soil – makes for a place where the roots can thrive. The leaders are see-through because they don’t have administration, bylaws, and other jargon to hide behind. They deal with issues as they arise in the most Biblical and clean manner.

  2. Sam Rainer says:

    I agree with you on the newness factor of church plants. But all leaders must be transparent with their churches. Even with established churches that have 100 pages of bylaws, a non-transparent leader (if there is such a thing), will not last long or thrive. I also think that established churches can be just as “risky” and “edgy” as church plants if church leaders at that church are willing to stick it out for the long run.

  3. forthekingdom says:

    I agree with both Brian and Sam. New churches have the opportunity to do some things right on the front end (though they don’t always get it right). Established churches take time, but perseverence and longer-tenured leaders can often see some of the same benefits and blessings. Thanks for the opportunity to interact.

  4. kdb1411 says:

    The characteristics listed of successful church plants, with the possible exception of location, are virtually identical to those of successful established churches. That research has been established by Rainer, Lawless, and other leading American church researchers. Thanks for the update!

  5. Sam Rainer says:

    forthekingdom and kdb1411 – good insights. For those who don’t know Dr. Lawless, he is a church consultant. Info about his work can be found at

  6. Tboss says:

    When do we get to plant a church?

  7. Sam Rainer says:

    I believe that would be in the Lord’s timing, T-boss…but I like the eagerness!

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