8 Reasons Why "Church Planting" won't work anymore

8 Reasons why “Church Planting” won’t work anymore…

Church Planting, Discipleship, Mission…….the conversation is in full swing.

The temperature and interest for Church Planting is at an all time high in America.  There are more resources, conferences, books, and coaching specific to church planting available now versus any other time in our countries history.

Couple this with the renewed temperature for discipleship and mission and we have a recipe that makes this one of the most exciting times to live as a follower of Jesus especially if you are Church Planter.

But yet we still have some key challenges with the current state of Church Planting…

Ed Stetzer and his team have provided some helpful research….see here

  • 4000 new church plants each year….an all time high

  • 68% church plants still exist after year 4

  • Typical (majority) church plants did not pass 100 in worship attendance after year 4

  • 30% were not self sustaining after year 5

  • No breakthrough in true church multiplication (no reproduction)


Here are 8 reasons why “Church Planting” is holding us back from claiming new territory in the development of new churches…

1.  “Church Planting” is vocabulary that misses the mark

As we serve a Lord who is described as the "the word becoming flesh" we experience firsthand in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus how important vocabulary is; vocabulary determines language and language shapes culture.

When it comes to church planting and the reproduction of a church the language that we use to create this culture and intentional process of reproduction is absolutely crucial.

Church Planting is the wrong vocabulary because it will not lead to the most accurate language to create a consistent culture where a new church develops and functions as the “Body of Christ.”


2. “Church Planting” is inconsistent language…the church is not the “plant of Christ”

I have yet to uncover scripture that specifically refers to the church as the “Plant of Christ.”  If the Church is the “Body of Christ” than the most consistent language to use in the development of a new church is “Church Birthing” not “Church Planting.”


3. “Church Planting” does not lead to an intentional process

If the Church is the “Body of Christ” than the proper language and process to use in speaking of and developing new churches is “church birthing” and not “church planting.”  Hence, the development of a baby is the natural process to how a “body” comes to be and this process is the most natural and intentional lens to use for the development of a new church.


4. “Church Planting” does not recover the proper language needed to move forward

“Church Planting” does not naturally recover the language scripture uses to describe the Church.  If we are going to continue to move forward in our ability and effectiveness to start new churches than recovering scripture’s language to describe the church will be vitally important.

In other words, as the Church Planting focus and temperature continues to grow and reach new highs in America, recovering the proper language to talk about starting a new church will be incredibly helpful especially to those who are responsible for new church development within their respective contexts.


5. “Church Planting” is a limited metaphor

While I am not arguing that “Church Planting” is not a valid metaphor I am suggesting that “Church Planting” has obvious limits as the primary metaphor we use for the development of new churches.  The more helpful language for beginning a new church and to stay consistent with scripture’s articulation of the church as the “body of Christ” is “Church Birthing.”  


6. “Church Planting” is not the most helpful lens for evaluating and measuring the development of a new church

I am suggesting that the same way a baby develops prior to birth is the same way we should approach the beginning of a new church and evaluate the health of a new church prior to the public launch.This birthing process gives us a proper lens for evaluating and implementing the process for beginning new churches.  Using this language of “church birthing” instead of “church planting” will help to create a consistent culture, process, and evaluation.


7. “Church Planting” falls short in connecting the theory (book/conference) to the practical (boots on the ground) experience

I believe that one of the reasons the majority of church planters feel unequipped when it comes to the daily practical and technical logistics required to start a new church is because “church planting” leaves to many gaps.

During the last several years one consistent piece of feedback I hear from the majority of church planters is the disconnect between the theory of the “conference” or “book” to the actual “boots on the ground” practical experience of planting the new church.

The process of “Church Birthing” fills these gaps with a practical and technical framework that those starting new churches are hungry for.


8.  “Church Planting” does not transfer the necessary weight of responsibility

The responsibility and attention given to ensure the healthy birth of a baby is far different than the responsibility and attention to growing good tomatoes.  If we simply use the language of birthing instead of planting when it comes to a new church and apply the process than we will place a needed weight of responsibility that planting will never accomplish on its own.

Where do we go from here…

If we are willing move the vocabulary from “planting” to “birthing” we will enter in to a world of language that will propel the conversation of new church development forward and channel the overwhelmingly high interest of new church development into the proper metaphor that has the skeleton and process that will allow new church development to develop out past its current territory.

Over the next several weeks we are going to enter into the world of “Church Birthing” to experience the depth and consistency of a metaphor that has been present in scripture sense the Church was born 2000 years ago that was just as relevant then as it is for us today.