Church Planters

16 12 2007

planting.gifIn our day of specialized ministry there is a new category of pastor devoted to starting churches called “church planter.” 

I’ve been trying to understand exactly how “church planters” are different from old-fashioned “missionaries”? 

The term “church planter” seems to suggest the very first stage of church existence (or pre-existence?). If the metaphor is intended, planting comes first, watering and tending the soil comes second, nurturing the young plants comes third, watching over mature plants fourth, and then harvest last. Is this the general idea?  

I’ve known missionaries who would stay at a work until it became self-supporting and then move on to start a new mission work. Are church planters like that?

Do church planters have a heart for long term pastoring or just starting churches?  

If you are now a church planter, were you ever a missionary? If so, what do you consider the difference? 

Are church planters part of the emerging movement? Are church planters trans-denominational? Do church planters tend to agree on particular doctrines?  If so, what are they? Or is doctrine an irrelevant distinguisher?

Please help me understand.

I want to use your replies to teach my church the true meaning of “church planter/planting,” not my understanding of it. 

Thanks in advance.  




17 responses

16 12 2007

Missionairies can be church planters and vice versa. By the way, the term has been around for many years, at least since the 60s. My understanding of a church planter is someone from a church who “plants” a a daughter church in a nearby area.

16 12 2007

OK… well I kind of already knew that much (planting a daughter church).

I was hoping for a little more detail.

Are you a church planter?

16 12 2007

No. But I’ve been in church plants. I see you are a pastor. Duh. I feel like a 6th grader trying to illuminate a grad student. I do know of a church planting center if you are interested.

16 12 2007

I really want to hear from church planters themselves.

You mention a “church planting center.” Is it affiliated with a particular denomination or movement?

16 12 2007

This is the link. I was part of the original church plant by the PCA. Redeemer has since planted many daughter churches. You can probably contact the pastors running the center for more info. My husband was also involved (as a pastor) in a church plant in the 70s. I can send you his email if you are interested in contacting him.

18 12 2007

“It is tact that is golden, not silence.” – Samuel Butler

19 12 2007

I am not sure if you were asking for ABA responses, but I thought I’d try to tackle a few of your questions. Of course, this is all my opinion.

1. Every church planter should be a missionary (missional). Church planters are sometimes labeled CP’s because they are starting new churches in the United States. Missionaries are labeled Missionaries because they are planting indigenous churches overseas. Missionaries of old, were planting “missions” in our Association, whereas, many CP’s begin as a church when they move to the field. Of course, they are not fully self-supporting that is why they seek financial support from other sister churches or individuals.

2. We believe that a church is a group of two or more scripturally baptized believers who agree together to fulfill the Great Commission.

3. Some church planters go to a field, start the church, then, move on. Whereas others, stay at the church, and cast the vision to be a church that starts (mulitiplies) churches.

4. As of right now, my goal is to stay in Morgantown as long as the Lord sees fit, but in the mean time, we hope to plant a multiplicity of churches throughout the I-79 Corridor. It is our prayer that God will continue to raise up men within and without our church who feel led to plant new churches in this particular area!

5. I do not know much about the emerging movement. So, I really can’t comment on this particular question.

6. I fellowship with the churches of the American Baptist Association.

7. I think one common denominator among the new breed of church planters is the importance of planting churches, not just a church. In other words, they don’t just see one big tree, they see the groves.

I don’t know if this helps or not, but this is what I came up with concerning your questions. God Bless, brother!

19 12 2007
jonathon smith

Hey Bro. ken,
I think that the emphasis in “church planter” is that it is a “church” being started and not a mission that later becomes a church. The problem many times is not that we are traditional but that we are not traditional enough. If we go back to Paul we don’t see missions being started that later became churches….we see churches being started. That being said….I don’t have a specific problem with the idea of “missions” and understand the reason for the development of this methodology in the last 100 years…I do have a problem with people saying it is the only way it should be done. Now a lot of guys that are starting missions are calling themselves “church planters” because it implies a goal and a desire to eventually have a church in a culture where so many “missions” never seem to get there. I think you probably already knew most of this anyway but there it is anyway 🙂

Bro. Brooks seemed to do a fine job of dealing with some of this in the latest monitor.

20 12 2007

I like the term church planter here in the NE because the cultural connotation here is that “missions” are poor folks in 3rd world countries and “missionaries” are overseas teaching them english, sharing the gospel, etc. The term church planter gets the conversation headed in the right direction. The right direction being…Churches being planted that have a heart for making disciples and planting more churches.
Plant the gospel…make disciples…you have a church.
That’s my two cents.

20 12 2007

Thanks for all replies.

Some of the material I’ve read leads me to ask a follow up question:
Would a Church Planter prefer to plant four churches (with 25 members in each) or one church with 100 members?

I get the impression (from my research, not your comments) that the number of ‘churches’ planted is what it’s all about and that 20 churches of 5 members each would be better than four churches of 25 and exceedingly better than one church of 100 members.

Am I mistaken?

20 12 2007

I believe this is a good observervation, Ken. The more churches that are planted, the greater opportunity for more churches to continue, and for more people to be reached.

For example…Starbucks started a coffee shop directly across from another Starbucks. Same coffee, two locations, two different cliental. I know that this example is with coffee, but I think it applies with different churches too! This is my two sents. 🙂

20 12 2007

cents…sorry! 🙂

20 12 2007
jonathon smith

is it better to have 5 churches of 20 or to have 5 missions of 20?

20 12 2007


If you will explain the difference between a mission of 20 and a church of 20 perhaps we can determine which is better.

21 12 2007

I can only answer for myself…so here goes.
My understanding and usage of “church planter” or “church planting” has nothing to do with numbers. I just like the term better than
“baby church pastor” or “missionary” or “small church pastor.”

Ken Asked:
Would I rather plant 4 churches with 25 members or…
Plant 1 church with 100 members?

Answering that question would depend on some more information…
1. Are the churches in different demographic or geographic locations?
2. Is there enough QUALITY leadership to lead 4 churches versus one?
3. Do all 4 churches agree about their mission and will they network
with one another?
4. Is the 100 member church on mission or has it turned inward
developing programming and ministry that only benefits them?
5. Would I have to preach 4 services and keep with 4 sets of sheep?

These are just a few of the questions I would need answers to…


21 12 2007

Scott, thanks for your input…

You said you just like the term “church planter” better. I can understand that. Impressions are important and different words, even synonyms, can leave slightly different impressions.

Along that same line, I can see where a person would be inclined to plant 20 small churches rather than one large one. It does sound better if a church planter can say he planted 20 churches, doesn’t it?

Just kidding… 🙂 or am I? 🙂

21 12 2007

“If we go back to Paul we don’t see missions being started that later became churches….we see churches being started.” – Jonathon Smith above

I agree that Paul didn’t start “missions” in the sense of an organization and facility dedicated to bringing the gospel long-term to a group of people. But he didn’t start churches, either. Paul went city-to-city preaching the gospel, reasoning with those who had questions, and moving on. Then he went back to encourage and teach. Anyone who responded to the gospel became a member of the church. They wanted to gather. Paul did not always hang around to make sure weekly meetings were kicked off. I like what Scott said, that you preach the gospel, make disciples (I’d add among those who responded to the gospel positively), and then you have a church.

From the variety of comments it sounds like there are three different definitions of church planting: 1. Preach the gospel to those who haven’t heard it; when and if they’re saved, don’t abandon them; make them into disciples who gather together and produce a church. 2. Go into an unreached area and (?) preach the gospel to get people to hang out together in a church. 3. A big church sees an opening in a geographically removed but still close location where there are not a lot of churches – or they see a need for more churches of a theological persuasion – and makes a cutting (like a rose bush or a potato) of their own congregation, sends them out under approved leadership to gather separate from the mother church in order to attract new members and meet a need in the community (of saved or unsaved).

But I’m not a church planter. I know several.
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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