Planning a church planting process

Ric Thorpe

Bishop of Islington, England

How long does it take for a church plant to get going? What is the process involved? What are the stages of preparation and getting started?

In my experience of Anglican established churches being renewed or planted into in England or new partnerships being formed, it typically takes a year to prepare and 2 years to get established.

How long has it taken you?

Here’s the process broken down into parts:

-2 years: Openness

Churches who have decided to explore planting, with an awareness of the sacrifices and excitements involved, are much more likely to do it, allocating a budget, identifying a leader, speaking to a bishop, exploring possible places, and praying for doors to open.

-1 year: Discovery

Once a place is identified, it usually takes up to a year to make it happen – 6 months to agree and another 6 months to prepare.

-6 months: Announcement

Once agreement has been reached with a bishop and the parishes involved, the plant is announced, paying attention to communicating this to the right people in the right order.

-3 months: Preparation

Whilst tentative preparation has been going on for a while, all out preparation happens from announcement and weekly or fortnightly team meetings can be public after a few months, giving people a chance to get used to the idea of going.

0: Launch

In Anglican churches, this includes a licensing service and then the launch service itself. There may be lots more visitors supporting the plant on the first day, so expect a dip on the second Sunday!

+3 months: First 100 days

The first three months is usually quite chaotic and planters need to plan as much as possible in advance – service times, prayer meetings, basic publicity, core meetings for leaders and core members, planning meetings, time allocated for meeting local people, door to door, etc

2 years: Consolidation – establishing disciple-making

After a few months, the basic church rhythms have been established, and it is time to invest heavily in disciple-making and growing the church. Vision is being consolidated. Values are being absorbed and articulated.

5 years: Growth and planting

If you plant a church with an expectation of going on to plant, you are much more likely to do it. Recruiting an Ordinand at the beginning, or soon after starting, helps build momentum, give unique on-the-job training and experience, and enables the next plant to have the leader in place, ready to be sent.

Does it always work like this? Well it did with us! But everything is up for grabs. One thing I have learnt observing other plants is the process is the same, but the timings can vary. For anything smaller than a parish plant, it should be possible to speed the process up considerably, but in the end, the speed of planting is almost always a factor of leader readiness. But that’s another post!

We can all
play our part!

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