categories: church, church planting, community, encouragement, global church, leadership, working together
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April 7th, 2009

by Craig Groeschel

48 comments (+ Add)

Church Planters

Today I’d love to hear from Church Planters.

I remember the early days of Even though I was often high with big faith in God, there were long seasons where I felt very low, lonely, tired and afraid.

Church Planters, teach us what you’re facing.

What are your biggest challenges? What is your biggest joy? How can we pray for you?

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  1. Apr 7, 2009 at 6:45 am

    How Craig,

    Could I add a question in here as it is one I have been battling with for a couple of years now. Hopefully your readers could assist me in this one :)

    “How do I know whether God has called me to plant a church or not?”

    Perhaps your readers could also suggest some good reading on the topic of church planting.

    Thanks guys!!!

  2. Apr 7, 2009 at 7:16 am

    Hi Craig,
    I am part of a church plant in a town called Eger in Hungary. We are reaching our 4th year anniversary and excited about what is going on. I thought I would give a try at your questions.

    What are your biggest challenges?
    Our city is up against cultural Christianity. 90% of the people in our town claim to know Jesus and be Catholic, however the majority of them really don’t know anything about Him or what He has done. Nor do they live a life that is honoring to Him.

    What is your biggest joy?
    We have seen God grow the church to a good size in a very short time. He has changed lives radically and is growing the members of the church day by day. It’s our greatest joy to see someone saved, grown, and then taking steps into leadership.

    How can we pray for you?
    Our church is going through a period of change right now. Many are about to leave the church for other countries. We would love some prayer first for fruit in evangelism and maturity in our members. After that, we could use prayer for jobs for our members to stay in our town.

    Thanks for your great topic idea and God bless from Eastern Europe!

    - Shane Daniels

  3. Apr 7, 2009 at 7:26 am

    My biggest challenges in our church are:

    1) having to be bi-vocational
    2) exposure and awareness we are here
    3) getting people to pass through the doors

    Any insight would be helpful…

  4. Apr 7, 2009 at 7:26 am

    Thank you Craig. Thank you so much for giving all of us the opportunity to share our hearts. There are few men of God that give to the degree that you do. I pray I can do the same for others.

    Biggest Challenge
    God has provided for us financially but we aren’t seeing the weekly tithing at a level that will sustain us long term. We are fine for the time being, but I get concerned about this.
    I get worn our and discouraged at times. I feel the emotional, spiritual and physical pressure that comes with the position.

    Biggest Joy
    I get to see people come to faith in Christ. I get to be part of impacting a community. I love what I do.

    Close walk with God, love my wife and family like there is no tomorrow, strength, wisdom, health (I have Crohn’s), continue to see God’s vision not my own, continue to grow as a leader, emotionally strong and to live a life of integrity.

    To answer Jason:
    If you can do anything else other than church planting and be at peace then do it. You need to have a clear calling to do this. In my case God put a burning desire in my heart, a clear picture of where we were going, provide the people and finances we needed. I was all consumed with the vision of this new church. I would hear a secular song and think of planting. I would see a billboard and think of planting. I would think of planting when I went for a walk through my neighborhood. I tried to do something other than planting and couldn’t “get away” from God’s call. Don’t do it because it is the cool thing to do, do it because you know it. You will know if God is calling. Praying right now for you.

  5. Apr 7, 2009 at 7:37 am

    This Sunday is our launch. I wrote about it here: The deep wisdom of Gene Simmons

  6. Apr 7, 2009 at 7:38 am

    Jason - I would highly recommend “Simple Church”. Not specifically a church planting book, but very good stuff.

  7. Apr 7, 2009 at 8:34 am


    If you are still asking yourself this question, I would definitely not rush into anything. Not only would I suggest good reading, but also Godly counsel. If you have a covering, that would be the first place to start; i.e., pastor, elder or another church planter in your area.

    In addition to that I would encourage you to see the community you feel led to plant a church through the eyes of Christ. What are their needs, what is their culture and what are their key “care abouts”? These areas will be where you have the greatest opportunities to touch them.

    Don’t limit yourself to just 1 or 2 successful church planters, read everything you can get your hands on about church planting. Find what may work to satisfy the 3 areas of your community. Surround yourself with encouraging and faith filled people. Above all, pray, pray and pray some more.

  8. Apr 7, 2009 at 8:45 am

    Thanks for highlighting this Craig.
    Biggest Challenge: revisioning for passionate outreach after 5 years of labour in a city where 1% (or less) follow Jesus) and many have been burned by the church or religion. (Montreal, Quebec)
    #2 finding a better location to engage our community more; our city really frowns on any zone changes for religious activity.

    Biggest Joy: transformation from unlikely sources, newer people finding Jesus and struggling to make him priority in every part of their lives is incredibly encouraging. Just hired a part-time Kids pastor to strengthen our ministry to kids and get us into the community among kids/families.

    Prayer: for an increased passion for God and mission from within our church - I believe that’s the biggest factor beyond any strategy (or location) we come up with to reach our community for Christ

  9. Apr 7, 2009 at 9:00 am

    I think the biggest challenge facing me, besides the challenge of not enough financial support that almost all church planters experience, is the reality that no one will ever care as much about the church’s mission and work as I do. I want people to share my passion for Christ’s church, but I know that very few will.

  10. Apr 7, 2009 at 9:31 am

    Biggest Challenge
    Our biggest challenge has been developing giving that is adequate to support the ministries of the church. We’ve found the giving is about 2 years behind attendance growth. We have clarified our financial systems and this has helped. Also, we’ve learned to not be afraid to teach on money and to call people to make significant sacrifice for a significant mission. I’ve personally had to take responsibility for developing the giving of our church, and working with donors who are capable of making larger than normal contributions to the mission of our church.

    Greatest Joy
    Wow, honestly it has all been a great joy, but some of the greatest are: Developing leaders, Seeing people cross the line of faith for the first time (over 300 in our first 4 years), Connecting with the un-churched and de-churched (73% of our congregation currently), getting ready to launch a second site this fall!

    To Jason’s Question:
    1. Spend 6-12 months in a church plant and see if it seems like something God might be calling you to do. Don’t just attend, but get involved and serve like crazy. I served for 3 years as a volunteer staff member at 2 church plants to discover God’s call on my life to plant.
    2. Get honest with yourself. Do you have the gifting to be a church planter? Do you possess the gifts of leadership, apostleship (are you entrepreneurial), teaching, and administration?
    3. What have you started from the ground up?
    4. Do other people recognize the potential to plant in you?
    5. Clarify your motivation for planting. If it is for any reason other than to see people come to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ…don’t do it.
    6. Can you delegate, develop and empower teams to lead.
    7. Go through an informal and/or formal assessment. I work with prospective church planters (for the Church of the Nazarene) to help them identify if God is calling them to plant. Shoot me an e-mail if you’d like to talk further about planting:

    Thanks for opening this up Craig!

  11. 12Craig Strauss
    Apr 7, 2009 at 9:52 am


    Could you speak a little more on your second point you made to Jason? Do you need all of these gifts? Are there certain ones that would be more important than the others?

    Thanks for your insight. It’s really helpful.

  12. Apr 7, 2009 at 10:25 am

    Questions I’m asking myself: Is it possible to be the kind of church I feel God is calling us to be? Will what I hope for be more possible in 5 years rather than right now? Is it possible to follow Jesus, do life in meaningful ways and live in the suburbs of Tulsa oklahoma AND be a part of a church? (This is a serious question with no easy answers)
    If I stop taking responsibility for things others traditionally give up to a paid person will people still be interested in joining us? Is it possible to plant a church with 10 hours a week? What are the beautiful moments I get to experience now that I won’t be able to experience later because we’ll have stability? Can people in a individualistic, militaristic, therapeutic, technological world embrace biblical community, humility, service, and simplicity?

    Thanks for asking Craig. I’ve been praying for you all week. Don’t really know why, but felt like a good idea.


  13. 15Mike Perry
    Apr 7, 2009 at 10:31 am

    I am facing to opening stages of doing a Church plant and I think the scary part for me is just telling my current Senior pastor.

    Everyone who has ever left since I have started working here has been told my him, “I think God is telling me that you’re supposed to stay.”

    I really don’t want to deal with that. ;)

  14. 16Jesiah Hansen
    Apr 7, 2009 at 10:36 am

    I am live in mexico and work with a church thats all about church planting, we have planted 5 churches in about 4 years and we are on are sixth and well its really challenging especially because the people in every neighborhood and pueblo for example we have a church thats full of native indian village factory workers and its very hard to get them exited about anything but they are totally for real when they finally get there, and we have a different church thats really emotional so they can get really exited but they can get really down and well its hard to get them stable and well what I can say is that every case is so radically different you just need God and his wisdom and you really need to be flexible in doing stuff your not used to doing and maybe things you dont like to do…. for example if you like to teach maybe the area is more of and area of preaching I dont know if thats a good example but awesome

    Hopefully my insight works


  15. Apr 7, 2009 at 11:06 am

    We are approaching our 7 year anniversary of our church plant (in Fort Myers, Florida), but the challenges and joys don’t seem that far away!

    My husband wrote a book about our journey and what we learned in those early years (just released 2 months ago). You can check it out at

    Our biggest challenge was loneliness, feeling like no one understood how “out of our element” we were. It was also hard to know whether we were a success or not (when numbers don’t really show it).

    Our greatest joy was seeing the “light” come on for people in our community for the first time. To hear people say, “I never thought I would actually enjoy church.” The stories of life change have made it all worth it!

    Thanks for thinking about Church Planters Craig - our heart burns for them - wanting them to know that they’re making a difference!!!

  16. Apr 7, 2009 at 11:08 am

    We are now 4 years old and we have not been able to overcome these two challenges…
    1. Being able to recruit the right staff to fill leadership positions.
    2. Getting our name out into the community so that they know we are here.

    Our biggest joy is seeing people accept Christ. We baptized 109 people in our 4 years. That never gets old!

    To the guy who’s thinking he might be called to church planting, I would say this…if you can do anything else, do it! If you can’t get it out of your heart and mind and you feel like you can’t do anything else…then you might want to investigate it. But I would encourage you to plug in with a church plant and learn. I thought I had a decent grasp on it before we started…but I quickly realized there was much more to it than I had ever realized.
    I would also recommend that you find a group of pastors who can advise you along the way. I haven’t been able to find many, but I would recommend it if you can. Church planting can be a lonely experience!

  17. Apr 7, 2009 at 11:18 am


    Thanks for all you do! You have been an encouragement and a mentor from a distance for some time.

    We launched about 18 months ago and God has done some incredible things over that short time.

    The biggest challenge I deal with is staying in the moment. Always thinking about the next step and in the process I don’t enjoy what God is doing NOW. Sometimes I forget that the vision is a journey NOT a destination. Its a tough balance for me.

    Another thing I struggle with, being really honest here… is comparing our church with other church starts. We always here about the guys who started and six months later are running a thousand, launching a second campus, or whatever and sometimes I wonder what I am doing wrong because we haven’t seen the same “sucesss.” I know that its pride and insecurity that causes this, but its still s struggle sometimes. I’m probably the only one who deals with that though (insert smiley here).

    Jason… there has been some great advice already posted here, especially from Dale. When I was preparing for our church start a mentor said something about church planting and vision that I didn’t understand at the time but make complete sense now. He said that when you are getting ready to start a church you have a vision of what it is to be, but you will know when its time when the vision has you. Praying for you dude.

  18. Apr 7, 2009 at 11:22 am

    I planted a church in my hometown. We launched last Sept. and we are just over 6 months old. I absolutely love it and don’t want to do anything else with my life.

    I guess some of the biggest challenges for me is the finances. We have some coming in but like others have shared, it definitely will not sustain us long term. I do have help from my fellowship but that will run out soon. Also getting people connected once we get them through the doors.

    Our main challenge is to stay focused on our vision. We decided that we would start a church for the unchurched. I thank God that we have unchurched and de-churched people coming but it’s the Christians who challenge us. They come from other churches looking for something “new”. In other words, they are tired of their church and want a new place to do their thing, so they expect us to have a bunch of ministries to meet their needs. But that is not what we are about so we see these people coming and going. Fine with that, just gets tiresome.

    My greatest joy is when I see unchurched and de-churched coming and getting connected with God again. It is so awesome.

    Our biggest prayer request goes along with our biggest challenge, to stay focused on the vision and not to sell out to easy church. It’s easy to do churchianity and attract other Christians but we DO NOT WANT to do that. So we need wisdom in how we do things.

  19. Apr 7, 2009 at 11:27 am

    Craig S.

    Based on the plants and planters I’ve worked with it is absolutely essential that the gift of leadership be present. Without the gift of leadership, a planter will succumb to majority rule or yielding to the most powerful leader on their team, and may fail to lead based on the mission and vision of the church. Most of the plants that we have seen fail, have failed because we had the wrong leader in the wrong place with the wrong team.

    I forgot to add that the gift of Evangelism is also usually a determining factor in the success of a church planter.

  20. Apr 7, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Thanks for sharing everyone. We just completed year four of our church plant and God has been so good. And before that I started a parachurch (YoungLife) ministry from the ground up for the previous 7yrs.
    Biggest challange- How to live healthy in the midst of chaos. I personal learned that is NOT enough to be healthy spiritual, but physically also, but there is a third that RARELY gets mentioned and that emotionally healthy (I don’t mean like seeing a counselor-not bad idea though) I mean having fun with friends and family. Making time to get away from the pace and brokeness (our plant reaches alot of unchurched). 2yrs into the deal I was hospitalized and sick for a year plus.
    Greatest Joy - seeing people come to know Jesus. Just this week a lady came to church - refered by unchurched person in recovery who had heard me do funeral for 31yr old friend who drank self to death. This unchurched person who attended only for the last 3wks recommended our church to this person who is in rehab and she gave her life to Christ - never gets old!
    Prayer- we don’t mess up what God is doing! We have offer on 50acres for permanent locationa as we are portable church and meet in HS. God would send labors to continue to reach our community for Jesus!
    One peice of advice I would give to a church planter would be you MUST feel called or you won’t make it - just to hard. And remember the principle behind what someone else does because each community is different and what may work in LA wont work in NorthEast. (I guess that’s two)

  21. Apr 7, 2009 at 11:40 am

    I lead a church plant in south Florida. I never thought I would plant a church, but God…

    Challenges: I think that most church planters face financial challenges based on false assumptions. The current trend in church planting is to “fake it till you make it.” This causes folks to spend money and time that they can not sustain without exponential growth. Between 6 and 18 months in, folks are faced with the reality that church planting is a long term process. Unless you are going to make a direct duplicate of another church, and recruit staff from their staff, it takes time to develop vision in leaders. That’s part of the reason satellites take off so quickly.

    My greatest challenge is finding mature Christians who are willing to serve in a small church to help disciple new believers.

    By far my greatest joy is seeing someone that got saved in my little church develop and mature to the point that they are now ministering. I had no idea how fulfilling that would be. On top of that, when you see a community of believers develop with the dna of your church is kind of mind blowing. Not to mention seeing someone use the picture of you praying for them as their social network profile pic is humbling.

    Prayer request: wisdom, fellowship with like minded planters, workers, money.

  22. Apr 7, 2009 at 11:56 am

    I’m really enjoying reading everyone’s take on this! On a personal note, I wanted to say that hearing Craig and Andy Stanley talk at Catalyst One Day was such a huge encouragement for me, because many of the philosphies they expounded upon were sound principles that work for a church of 50 or 5,000.

    This is not a swipe at church planting organizations, because there are some really good ones out there, but I think one of our biggest blessings has been the ability to be completely self funded. It takes enough discernment to know the difference between your own vision and God’s vision for the church, without a third party involved.

  23. Apr 7, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    “Church Planters, teach us what you’re facing.”

    There are several issues facing Phoenix, AZ. For a city basked in light 330 days a year, this is a spiritually dark place and this is expressed in various ways:

    From what I’ve heard, only around 3% of Phoenix attends an evangelical church and attendance only increases to 10% when you include regular Catholic attenders. (for more stats see a video I produced about Phoenix at Vimeo: ). Now, normally, I would think those stats would rock! Look… I’m a church planter. If there is a bunch of lost people somewhere that’s just where I want to be! In fact, that’s why I moved here after two church plants in Baltimore. But when we came, we came without a team and without a core group. We were essentially parachute dropped into PHX! My hope was to find missionaries here to help us build a core… in other words, We began praying to the Lord of the Harvest to send workers… and He did… but very few.

    Here, I believe, is the #1 issue we are facing with Christianity here in PHX:
    The majority of the Christians in PHX have been conditioned to be consumer focused which means they are less likely to step out and serve unless it is easy for them. (BTW: to any of our core who might read this, I am not speaking of you! You rock!)

    THE verse that PHX Christians need to memorize and meditate on is this from King David: “I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing” - 2 Sam. 24.24

    Set up and tear down is hard work… I’ve done it for 12 years of starting churches/ministries from the ground up. But I’ve actually had a couple that’s stop going to church because they feel guilty that they are not setting up or tearing down. Once we move into our permanent spot (beginning of May) they will come back. lol

    I have a friend that is prepping for missions overseas, but he and his wife purposefully chose a church that would help them politically secure an appointment. My challenge to him was, “Don’t you think that if God has truly called you that you won’t need to pull politcal strings to get there? If you are called to missions overseas, you are certainly called to missions NOW. Plug into a church plant! They need you… I’m not saying join mine, but I am saying join one now instead of fading into the mass of people at a local mega church that won’t even miss you if you’re gone.” All of which fell on deaf ears.

    Kids ministry in a theater is a challenge, and many have left for the bigger “better” kids ministries around the valley (even LifeChurch’s! lol) I was once told, “I really believe in what you’re doing. I know God is calling me to be part of this.” Yet once this couple found out they were pregnant, they suddenly felt like God was calling them away.

    I’ve heard comments like, “I wasn’t impressed.” I’m sorry… were we supposed to impress you? lol I think if they came today, they might be.. our worship band is the best I’ve had ever and I’ve had some good ones. But you know what? We’re not here to impress; we are here to elevate Christ so the world may know Him.

    In the US, we have offered worship that costs us nothing: comfy seats, big kids programs, you name it. And you know who gobbles that up like candy? Christians. The lost, in my experience, don’t know any better. You know what they are looking for? A genuine God, a genuine Savior, a genuine faith, and a genuine community. If they can find some real friends and real answers they will stay. Typically, this is not the case with Christians in the valley. It’s about whwt you can do for them. And when God calls a church planter to start with nothing, it’s a real challenge in the valley.

    All of this has been just a reminder to not court the Christians, but those who need to hear the good news! I made the following video and spread it all over MySpace - adding friends like crazy. We’ve had visitors ever since. Perhaps other planters can do the same!

    We also produced a short film: see - it is a modern day Hosea story… and our leading lady is FORMER porn star Crissy Moran. Do NOT Google her name. Her previous life is all over the internet. :( But yeah, Crissy is a dear friend and devout follower of Jesus now. She left the biz in 2006 and has never looked back. Our short film is her first return to the screen since porn. And this “film” is essentially a video sermon with me giving the message. I sort of pop in and out like Rod Serling in the old Twilight Zones. At our film premiere, we had around 200 people which was great… but I am still amazed that it was so few. However, this film is having a major impact in other places in the country right now and so for that I am grateful.

    “What is your biggest joy?”

    You know… I am glad you put that question in there because it could seem that I feel like all is lost here in PHX or that I’m just a “debby downer” ;) I am always joyful when God creates new hearts and makes them fully devoted to Him… and i see that happening more and more with some of our core. Seeing lives transformed is addicting… and it seems that God always comes through. HE is the One that does the work of transformation… it’s our job to be faithful to show up in the fields and do the work He’s asked… if we do, there is always fruit! (Jn 15).

    “How can we pray for you?”

    Pray to the Lord of the Harvest to SEND US WORKERS! God has laid on my heart a burden for 50 missionaries to serve with for 6 months. Pray that we get 100! Thanks, guys… and thank you Craig. You’ve always been an inspiration! Tell Grant Downing and Alan Danielson (if you see him, I know he’s somwhere else now) hi for me… they are dear friends of mine of nearly two decades. Be blessed…

    - David Cowan

  24. 27Mike
    Apr 7, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    Craig, I met you at the one day Catayst. I shared with you right after you spoke about what your book did to me. God has been working on my heart about planting a church here in the middle of the woods. (so speak of)
    My biggest struggle is that a lot of church planters are telling me that a contempory church will never make it. We have lots of traditional churches in the area and most of them are not reaching people anymore.
    My Biggest joy is the excitement of having to trust God like I have never done before. I am getting ready to have to go public, which is going to most likely have me step away from my current ministry.
    Prayer support is that God will lead the way. I can not do this without His work and leading. Personally, I do need some prayer for myself, that I will completely trust God, even when I cannot see what is going to happen.

  25. Apr 7, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    Our plant is eight years old, in an Ohio college town. My greatest challenge is the transitions and changes that come with growth…it seems we’re in constant transition, which is a good thing, but a real challenge. My biggest joy: all the obvious, but they never get old: seeing people receive Christ, seeing people “get it,” seeing people build community, etc. My prayer needs: stamina, insight, clarity, church finances, etc.

    And I definitely agree with the earlier comment about “how do I know if I’m called to plant?” If you can do anything else, do it. If you can’t do otherwise, you’re called.

  26. Apr 7, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    My family and I moved to our city 20 months ago and just launched our church 2 weeks ago. We knew only one family here before we moved and there were 364 people at our Grand Opening followed by 200+ last weekend.

    The biggest challenge we’re facing in this season is not the systems or even the spiritual care - we were as ready as we could be for those - but the assumptions that even our best people have because the growth came so fast (our biggest sneak peek crowd was 62). 95% of the Launch Team (LT) had never been part of a church plant before and had never been part of anything that saw such a jump in growth. As much as we (leaders) tried to prep the LT, it came down to the “how do you describe a tree to an Eskimo?” principle. Some things we just have to experience to get.

    The good news is everyone is excited & adjusting as quickly as they can and no one is resisting the changes growth brings. As the lead planter, I’m at a loss as what to do systematically to address this issue so I’m just looking out for the assumptions that might hinder mission and then addressing them.

    If anyone has some suggestions on a different approach, I’d love to hear some.

    Craig - Some of my team & I was at Catalyst One Day at Granger last November and it was HUGE for us! Also your message on Practical Atheist ruined me in a holy way. Thanks so much. I’ll be at the National New Church Conference in Orlando in 2 weeks and look forward to hearing your talk with Marc Choi.

  27. 30Edward
    Apr 7, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    We are about to purchase a facilty–about to close–we feel God’s leading–I am petrified—hope I’m leading the congregation in the right direction

  28. Apr 7, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    Hi guys,

    We church planted 7 years ago from a larger church in our city. It’s been a long and arduous road with plenty of challenges.

    Our biggest challenge right now I think is helping the church stay in faith as we try for a building. We’ve had 2 fall through and our current application is on hold while the owner pursues a better offer. We’re ready to move on it and feel like God is saying to just ‘Wait’ for a moment.

    Biggest joys? Probably the Sunday just gone! We feel like we’ve really hit a breakthrough moment. I preached on Joshua 1 about getting ready to cross into a new land, we had 4 decisions and our biggest attendance in many months. God is really doing something powerful among us. Faith is high and people are connecting and loving. It’s a great season but not without it’s challenges.

    Thanks so much Craig for listening to the little guys :). Darren

  29. Apr 7, 2009 at 10:46 pm

    Not sure IF the thread is still going, but here’s my thing:

    I’m an inner-city church planter. We planted here in Detroit 4 years ago and plan to plant another campus (also in the city) later this year. The big dilemma here is funding. Obviously a suburb church isn’t going to convince 50-100 people to move to the city and they view ‘us’ as a risky investment as well. We are convinced that you can plant city churches that are not rescue missions or soup kitchens but functional, thriving communities of faith. It’s so exciting. Our members tithe faithfully but we’re Detroit - recession & jobless rates are obvious. Yet, God sustains & prospers us. Our staff of 20 ALL are non-paid.

    So the question: how can we increase the awareness of churches like ours as viable ‘missions investments’ right in our own country? At our current location, there are 29 launguages spoken in a 2 mile by 2 mile radius and the Islamic Call to Prayer is broadcast from mosque roofs 5 times per day. We are living in the ‘great commission’… SO COOL!!!

    I think there’s a great opportunity to be a part of these kinds of plants. No, birthing a church the natural way (people moving to a place) won’t work in the city, but there’s also adoption. Churches saying we see you’re alive - we’ll adopt you, partner with you & help you grow!

    … sorry to ramble on. You’re great & I really appreciate all that you do! Love & respect, Chilly

  30. Apr 8, 2009 at 2:13 am

    Challenges: Of course, financial sustainability and being bi-vocational. Staying human amid the organized chaos really helps.

    Joys: Seeing the unchurched and prodigals come home. It’s what keeps us going!

    Pray: For God’s joy throughout the process of planting! There’s so much that consumes us and I think we can take it too seriously. Success is not God’s currency…faith is.

  31. Apr 8, 2009 at 8:40 am

    I planted a church a little over 3 years ago in my hometown of 10,000 people and have seen my share of ups and downs. We started with 10 people to just do an outreach service which in 4 months evolved into a church plant. We’ve doubled in size every year, which if you do the math, means we currently run about 80 in our service. Not very big, but I’ve come to realize that as a bi-vocational pastor, I can’t effectively minister to 200 people right now. I think God is growing me and new leaders in our church. As we’ve grown spiritually and in leadership ability, more people have started attending. Sometimes it just takes patience. God has provided what we needed, when we needed it and I have no doubt He’ll continue to do so. BTW, we also have no paid staff right now. Fortunately God has blessed me with a good secular job. At this point, I feel that being a volunteer pastor is a blessing. I don’t experience the pressure that comes with your livelihood depending on the church plant finances. To me that’s one less distraction I have to deal with. Hopefully, our church will grow to the point it can hire a full time pastor, I would love the job, but if not, God has provided me with a living and I’m blessed to have it.

    My greatest challenge so far was dealing with a disagreement over paint colors for the new building we moved into in February. I about lost my religion. I never realized people could be so petty.

    My greatest joy was one night we were having a prayer service and one of the members of the congregation asked that I step in the circle to be prayed for. He then spent the next 5 minutes telling everyone what the church and I meant to him. I just stood there and cried.

    My advice to anyone starting a church is to be patient, growing does not happen overnight, whether it’s spiritual, physical, or church size. We bounce everything we do against 2 principles found in Matthew 22:34-40. Love God first and your neighbor second. If you’d like to check out our website, its


  32. Apr 8, 2009 at 9:25 am

    Planting for this big kid seems to be that fine balance of: “God, i’m storming the gates of Hell with these people you have me leading and our squirt guns are loaded!” AND “God, what were you thinking when you chose me to lead this?!?” It is one of the greatest privileges and the most overwhelming challenges balled into one…well…packed into a 24′ trailer, a 24′ cargo truck…and a few other assorted vehicles and Rubbermaid tubs.

    My constant “battle”, the war on my relationship with Jesus, is busyness. My constant prayer is that of Moses - Psalm 90:17
    “May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us;
    establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.”
    -God, unless this is for your glory, i do not want to do this! In spite of me, i am amazed that God would allow me/entrust me…entrust US to do this thing called ‘church planting.”

    Craig, thanks for the continual insight and encouragement from yourself & team! Huge gift! It is incredible to try and comprehend, beyond those attending and viewing web worship as part of “”, the global impact that you and your team are having by ministering to pastors & “planters”…such as me. THANK YOU!

    Prayer request: we are moving out of our High School (4+ years) and are “launching” at a local Movie Theater THIS Sunday, EASTER. Please be praying for us…and know i am praying for you and the team!
    -stay reckless for my Jesus!

  33. Apr 8, 2009 at 10:52 am

    A year ago, I was given a vision to plant a network church, but I never pursued it until this last December. As a junior in college and only 19 at the time, I didn’t feel like the best candidate for the job. Much less I just came out of a very destructive season in my life. Granted, God worked everything out ahead of me. Within weeks of sharing my vision with those around me, we were officially a network church of LifeChurch and awaiting launch. However, the momentum sort of came to abrupt halt after school started back the next semester.
    We intended to be a campus ministry here at Middle Tenn. State, using campus facilities, but due to the bureaucracy of Student Affairs and the administration we have been awaiting launch for over 3 1/2 months now.

    In this time I’ve felt myself fade in faith, and slowly lose hope in the idea I was ever called to do this.
    I just haven’t yet understood why when everything else was made to happen and is at ready, why an obstacle like this would appear? I still have no answers.

    And still, to this very day, we are awaiting approval so that we can finally launch.

  34. 37Brian Alarid
    Apr 8, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    Hi Craig,

    Mercy and I just want to say “thank you” to you and Amy for hosting and mentoring us last week. It was the greatest leadership experience of my life. You are the most authentic leader I’ve ever met. We love you and admire you and respect you more than we could ever express in words this side of heaven. You’ve been the single biggest influence in our lives the past 3 years since we started Passion Church. Thank you. Thank you for all the sacrifices you’ve made and the unseen prices you’ve paid to become who you are. We’re not only better leaders because of you, we are better people.

    My biggest joy is serving Jesus with my and kids. I am more in love with Jesus than at any point in my life. I can’t believe I get paid to do what I love to do - lead people to Jesus! And to get to do it with my best friend and wife Mercy and my beautiful chidlren Chloe and Colin is just more than I could ever deserve or ask for.

    My biggest challenges and prayer requests as a church planter have been financial (as an independent, non-denominational church plant) and assimilation (getting our new believers saved, giving, serving, and living an authentic Christian lifestyle). I read and study and try to learn everything I can to improve my leadership in these 2 areas but still feel I am falling short. So I would love your prayer in these 2 areas and any wisdom and insights you have.

    We are back in Albuquerque and doing well. We are doing the 7 Days of Servolution this week.

    Monday night we served dinner to the Fire Station across from the High School where our church meets. Last night we hosted 30 students from one of the classes Mercy teaches at a local college in our home for dinner. They threw us a surprise baby shower for our third child (due in August). This morning we served Starbucks coffee and Dunkin Donuts to the Principals and Administration staff @ our high school and then to 30 police officers at the police station across the street.

    Much love,
    Brian Alarid

  35. Apr 8, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    Hey there guys! Just wanted to share a link to some amazing material for church planters! It is a community needs assessment to help grow your church or even get you started!
    Here is the Link:

    You can also go to for more great resources!

    Enjoy and share with friends!

  36. Apr 8, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    Biggest challenge…finances. Who knew that unchurched people wouldn’t tithe?!

    Other than that…we’re loving the ride! We’re 18 months old, started with 25 people…and currently minister to about 175 on a weekly basis.

  37. Apr 9, 2009 at 6:47 am

    Hi Craig & Crew,
    Let’s see how I can condense all the heartache, dissapointment, frustration, Excitement, passion, vision, sleepless nights thinking about the community, loneliness, quitting then re-hiring myself, love for the kingdom in one short brief statement……I can’t! I seems that all that is just part of the Journey. We started about 2 years ago casting vision for Freedom Culture and it has been a long…..long journey to get the funding, support and team in place. The great part is that during this the Evangelical Covenant Church, (your peeps) and I have been meeting with throughout and hopefully will move forward to help get me of the ground in April 2010.

    So the shortly answer your questions:

    Church Planters, teach us what you’re facing.

    What I am learning is that the Mission of the Church is something you have to learn with others not by yourself. Miami can be a death zone for Church Planters because theirs much to compete with for the attention of the crowd your trying to reach. But if we keep a Christ-centric approach toward building and reaching in a relevant and biblical way, we’ll touch the live and hearts of people.

    What are your biggest challenges?

    My biggest challenge is people not committing and connecting but attending! I wonder if it’s me or them thats the problem? I’m working the social networks, meeting with people outside our launch team development gatherings and casting vision but they just don’t get it sometimes. Of course funds are the biggest. If I had the funds to devote more time where I didn’t have to work FT or had sponsoring churches help support me (Which I am actually doing as we speak)then I might be able to be more effective with the vision.

    What is your biggest joy?

    My biggest joys are: learning. I have learned so much thus far that I wouldn’t trade that for anything since we decided to cast vision and build a team. Visioning and dreaming people coming to salvation and growing in community with a local church that can care about them. Doing ministry with my wife and people I care about and care about me as well. Hearing from the Holy Spirit and what he has for Miami.

    How can we pray for you?

    Pray that God will speak to me continually so I am sensitive to his leading and for me to connect with people that God has purposed to be part of our launch team, funding for this church launch from sources and partnership with the ECC and other sponsoring churches and for my wife and I that we stay strong during this season and grow in our love for each other, for God and this City.

  38. Apr 9, 2009 at 7:37 am

    we’re a 2 1/2 year old church plant, and one of the things that helped me the most was being a part of a network or a group of people. you just need people in the trenches with you. no matter how many books and blogs you read, relationships matter.

    we try to put the things we’re learning and offer practical advice at a behind the scenes blog - It’s out there if it can be a help to anyone.

    keep up the great work lifechurch!

  39. Apr 9, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    Jason, check out this video for answers to your “calling”. Great stuff. I went to seattle and watched it live and it really answered many of my questions.

  40. Jun 5, 2009 at 10:22 am

    Planting a new work in Providence Rhode Island. it is an exciting journey and God has been sending me a fantastic team of people to pull it off. We are launching services in the Spring of 2010. The big challenge here right now is the economics. RI is in rough shape so it is the not the optimal time for fund-raising but we see God’s hand. It is also the right time. When things are tough, is when people begin to look up from there earthly things and start considering eternal things. Providence is also a religious wasteland between the now defunct congregationalism and the declining Catholicism. This place needs the Gospel bad and we appreciate any prayers we can get.

  41. Jun 14, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    Planting a region-impacting church in Costa del Sol Spain at the top of the 10-40 window. Multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual environment. Wondering if Craig might have some insight into establishing a relevant, relational Body where none of the normal props exist that keep God and His purposes before the public eye (Christian TV, Radio, etc). One thing that has helped us to this point is passionate, encouragement from the pulpit and a desire to establisha Pharisee-free zone where religious people (those christian-culture laden)feel really uncomfortable and the “new and unchurched” sense God’s love and embrace. We’ll celebrate our 2nd Anniversary with around 100 souls in July amid a hostile, post-christian, Moorish/AntiqueCatholic climate. Corruption and poverty have marked this area in the past to be 3rd world-ish, but God has promised us transformation of the city, culture and destiny!Lives are being transformed and summer is joyous with open-air outreaches and baptisms in the Mediterranean. To find us get to the Rock of Gibraltar then go 25 km. east and you’ll see Estepona. That’s our city! By the blessing of the righteous the city is exalted!

    For the Multitudes, We welcome your advice!
    Dick Flores de Leon
    Missionary Church Planter

  42. Jun 18, 2009 at 9:15 pm

  43. Sep 4, 2009 at 6:39 am

    the problem i am facing is that near every one has a church

    people now needs material things(resources)

  44. Oct 1, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    In the blood of Jesus thank your. Such blessing to us. Thank to the Lord your corporation in India. We have lot of work setuavetion to establish India unreached people groups of tribal slum areas. And part up other location areas in India. To promise of the Lord. Yes praises the Lord we will interest for partner with our vision work to Link PSALM 133; 1-3 with our ministries. And we will in frankly, Request you. We have pastor and staff they are very critical trebles to reaching. Already submitted our Barden.
    Please we are waiting your Recopies Reply. And suggestion to us please prayer our vision.

    1. Church Planting for the World (C.P.W).
    2. Orphan Home & Children Care Ministry (O.H & C.C.M).
    3. Mercy Charity Ministry (M.C.M).

    We are in Hyderabad in this Address

    Thanking you.
    Yours in Christ
    Bro: B.Isarael,
    Redeemer Gospel Ministries,
    Plot No: 23, Kamalabai NagarColony,
    Nagaram (Village & Post),
    Keesara Mandal, R.R district,
    Hyderabad-500 083,

  45. 48master mandivengerei
    Mar 16, 2011 at 6:44 am

    with the help of the holy spirit we planted a church in Auguet 2009.the problem we are facing is of resources(finance)for rentals .support for me so that i leave my job and get into full time of Gods work