Ten Reasons to Partner in Planting Now

Ten Reasons to Partner in Planting Now

Posted on 30. Mar, 2011 by in Leadership

By Ed Stetzer

The resurging interest in church planting has prompted a growing number of pastors and churches to ponder the value of planting new churches. Part of this deliberation inevitably involves the merits of planting independently versus partnering with other churches or networks. Many have found that church planting partnerships provide strengths and opportunities their efforts might not have experienced otherwise.

So why partner now? Here are 10 reasons to partner for church planting sooner rather than later.

1. The current economy is a perfect opportunity.

The current recession will force people to make hard decisions about where they place their values. It is not unprecedented to discover many anecdotal reports that say people are more open to church during such times. According to a recent Texas Tech study, economic growth and evangelical church growth are counter-cyclical. As the economy goes down, church attendance goes up. This reality can be traced back historically as well. America’s greatest church planting season, 1795-1810, occurred during a time of economic hardship. More recently, the planting boom led by the Vineyard and Calvary Chapel movements occurred during the economic malaise of the 1970s and early ’80s.

The consequential reason for this is simple: when our money and possessions disappear, we are forced to face our spiritual crises. Just as the prodigal son “came to his senses” after he’d squandered it all (Luke 15:17), the prodigals of our nation are primed to face their spiritual needs since they can no longer mask the need with their material wants.

The problem for the church is that our planting models are driven by economic realities that existed two years ago. But if we share resources and wisdom, we can more quickly and effectively respond to the needs of lost people.

2. Plants do better when local people are sent out.

Research tells us there is a correlation between the significant involvement of a “mother church” and the success of a church plant. Consequently, more leaders are embracing the concept that churches plant churches.

Local churches that recruit, train, and send out planters to their own communities cultivate larger and healthier churches. The principle of churches planting churches has resulted in consistent success over centuries. The results are even surprising when multiple churches get together, sharing people and resources. Such indigenous cooperation makes for quicker and healthier starts.

3. Churches get healthier as and after they plant another church.

Although counterintuitive, sending out people for church planting support not only benefits the church planted but it benefits the church planting church. In a Leadership Network study, “The State of Church Planting in the United States,” we revealed:

Significantly, all surveyed churches have experienced growth in their own
attendance as they faithfully continued to pursue outreach and mission
as the priority for their existence.

And according to the research conducted by Jeff Farmer in his Ph.D. dissertation, “Church Planting Sponsorship: A Statistical Analysis of Sponsoring A Church Plant as a Means of Revitalization of the Sponsor Church,” a “mother church” ends up in better condition six months after it plants a church than it was previous.

4. Shared DNA is better than solo DNA.
Let’s say a popular, resourceful megachurch gets excited about church planting and sends out a dynamic planter. The new planter will likely work at replicating the sending pastor’s gifting or the megachurch’s culture. A healthy church plant has its own DNA; it’s not a clone. If that planter partners with local people or additional local church communities, the new plant will pick up local DNA.

According to Stephen Gray’s research published in Planting Fast Growing Churches, 88.3% of church planters involved in fast-growing church plants weren’t flying solo but were part of a church planting team. Recruiting local leadership increases the connection a new church will have to its new community.

5. Planters who partner benefit from increased accountability.
The increased interest in church planting is a good thing. But this intense interest can create a zeal that, if left unchecked, can become a train wreck. Planters most often possess hard-charging personalities which benefit from the spiritual discipline involved with accountability. This type of relational environment provides both assessment and training to minimize burn out. Additionally, partnerships create an environment of encouragement and accountability. The result will be a planter ready for the marathon of church planting. Sharing the load and submitting to accountability leads not only to a healthier plant, it leads to a healthier planter.

6. Partnerships lessen the financial and resource burdens.
One of the most obvious needs of a new church is money and resources. Often these jugular issues are left to chance. When a planter partners with a church or a planting team, the financial burden and the workload is distributed more evenly. Working with multiple partners also increases the financial network to draw from in order to fund the church plant. It’s not good for the pocketbook or the physical health for man to plant alone.

7. People in the community need to reach their community.
In one common church model, we have people driving 30 minutes (or more) to worship every week. And that can be okay. But it is still a hindrance to those people reaching others in their communities. This is why we need more people attending local churches. Some churches have tried to solve this problem with the multi-site model, and some have experienced success. But nothing beats a local team exegeting its locale, living incarnationally in the locale, and leading the church to serve in the locale. If this isn’t happening, people invite their friends to church, but once the friends know they drive 30 minutes or more, they sometimes lose interest.

It’s hard to be missional if your worship and training always involves separation from your context. Proximity is key. So, planters should seek a community within which to start a church. The local community is the best location for creating partnerships and cultivating disciple making. It’s too difficult to pastor from afar.

8. You can take advantage of more effective exposure.
The math here is simple: if you spread out the responsibility, you spread out the news your church exists. We have found that people in other churches are often eager to help another church start strong. For instance, in one of our plants, we invited our partner church to go on a “$44 Mission Trip.” This basically involved helping us create 5,000 hand-addressed notes that we mailed to homes in our target community. Instead of hiring somebody to mass-produce a slick postcard for us, we enlisted help in creating actual notes in which one person from the partner church stuffed, addressed, and placed stamps on 100 envelopes.

These days slick postcards just blend in with the junk mail. If you’re like me, you always open hand-addressed mail first. So we got other churches involved in helping us. We discovered the more the project required hands-on participation, the more excited the volunteers got. When you partner with other churches, it takes less time to create buzz, cultivate enthusiasm, and build momentum.

9. It creates a vivid witness.
What the lost world often sees is churches setting up shop, like independent retailers. They see different brands: denominations, traditions, styles. They wonder why they should listen to anything we have to say when it sure looks like we won’t even listen to each other. But when churches partner, especially across “brands,” it creates a wonderful picture of Gospel reconciliation. And it communicates to the community that what unites us is greater than what divides us. Partnering with other churches is a brilliant witness to the unity Jesus prayed for in John 17.

10. It is ultimately Kingdom-minded.
Partnering isn’t only a witness to the lost world; it is a testament to the universal reign of Jesus. By setting aside our own preferences and ambitions, we create a new story for people to consider. When we submit to each other and honor each other in loving cooperation, we do much more for the spread of the kingdom than when we cultivate our own private enterprises. Many times, church planting, even inadvertently, becomes about planting our own flag rather than flying the banner of the kingdom of heaven. When we work at having “all things in common” in church planting partnerships, we find ourselves more faithful to the presence of the kingdom.

When you survey the current realities in America, one would conclude these are not the best of times to consider church planting. Yet a survey of history would verify God does His greatest work during difficult times. People are looking for new realities beyond money and personal assets. As churches hear from God, work together, and plant new churches in their local communities, we present a timely picture of God’s activity in the community. So, I think it is a great time for your church to partner with others to plant churches together.

Ed Stetzer is president of LifeWay Research. Read more at www.edstetzer.com.  A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering®
©Copyright 2009 North American Mission Board, SBC

Related posts:

  1. 5 Reasons Why I Failed
  2. Open But Cautious Church Planting
  3. Is Church Planting for Me?
  4. Church Planting: Puritans or Separatists II
  5. Top 10 Reasons People Leave Your Church

One Comment


09. Nov, 2014

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