I know there are any number of principles for church planting—I’ve made up or stumbled across many of them myself. These are just five that stand out to me right now.
1. Water the roots
The roots of any church plant are the leaders. No matter what their formal role, these are the people doing the work of the ministry, and these are the people you need to invest in. Support them through coaching, encourage them through gathering together with others leaders, challenge them by serving alongside them, develop them through intentional conversation. The roots are the key to the health of the whole tree.
2. Keep the focus
Especially if you’re planting a different kind of church than what people are used to, you’ll see how hard it is for people to change their paradigms. You’ll need to continually cast vision for what church is and what ministry is—over and over and over again. You’ll need consistency of vision and singularity of focus. And you’ll need that for the long haul.
3. Let the Spirit lead
We need to commit to a posture of openness, letting God set the agenda. At my church, we send out our people in groups of twos and threes, letting them choose their own ways of living incarnationally. When we see the fruit emerging, that is where we focus. The idea is to find out where God is already working and then join him there.
4. Do not forget the poor
When James, Peter, and John sent Paul and Barnabas off to plant a church, they had only one piece of advice: “All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along” (Galatians 2:10). When we look at the population numbers of the poor vs. the middle class and wealthy and then compare those numbers with who our current church planting efforts are targeting, we’d do well to remember the apostles’ advice today as well.
5. Keep multiplying
Keep what you do reproducible. Resist the urge to make it fancy or difficult or personality-based. Reproducibility empowers ordinary people to do extraordinary things. And it ensures that your ministry will outlast you and leave a lasting legacy for the Kingdom of God.