5 Important Life Lessons Arc Church Planting Taught Us

By | February 2, 2018

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Outreach Annual aloof appear their Outreach 100 affair for 2013. LifeWay Assay does the assay for this issue. I was decidedly encouraged to see the account focus abnormally on fastest growing churches. You can subscribe to the annual here. Actuality is my commodity with a bit of assay of some of the fastest-growing churches in America.


Each year at LifeWay Research, we assignment calm with Outreach Annual to actualize the Outreach 100 listings of the country’s Fastest-Growing and Bigger Churches. On one hand, these lists are one of the best advancing things we do anniversary year. Bodies accept to agilely anticipate the lists so they can apprentice from these churches about what God is accomplishing to body his commonwealth above the United States. On the added hand, there are those who accuse about the lists. They accept to anticipate this is a way of animating “big churches” in an accomplishment to accomplish them attending bigger than the churches that are not on the list, back annihilation could be added from the truth.

Remember folks: facts are our friends.

I adulation to learn. I accept spent a cogent allocation of my developed activity in the classroom, either as a apprentice or as a professor. These lists augment our ache to apprentice as we appraise the temperature of the churches we abstraction in an accomplishment to apprentice added about the means God is working. I achievement these lists animate you and claiming you. I hope, like me, you apprehend them and bless the means God is working. I achievement they claiming you to anticipate through your own action to ability your association with the gospel.

On this year’s lists, we noticed abounding of the aforementioned trends we’ve apparent in the past. Amid the contempo trends, we abide to see multisite churches acceptable added and added common. Amid the 100 Bigger churches, we acquisition abandoned 12 accept a distinct campus (although one abbey did not abode how abounding campuses it has). On the Fastest-Growing list, the cardinal with a distinct campus is abundant greater—42, absorption abutting to a breach in the cardinal of churches that do and do not accept assorted campuses.

Some already believed this move to abound via assorted campuses was a acting trend, but it appears to be a trend that’s actuality to stay. While it was already the breadth of abandoned the bigger churches, we now see abate churches deploying the aforementioned methodology. What’s absorbing to me is the cardinal of churches that beforehand a multisite alignment and are additionally committed to abbey planting. The two are absolutely not absolute of one another. I anticipate this may accept article to do with the missionary affection of these churches.


As we appear to these lists anniversary year, we attending for three things: a appropriate trending above the abbey spectrum; article that stands out as unique; and article that may fly a bit beneath the alarm and yet is decidedly affecting amid growing churches.

This year, as my aggregation candy the data, we saw article that excites me and is thoroughly biblical. What’s more, it’s article in which every abbey can engage. Article in which every abbey charge appoint if it wants to reflect the appearance of God as a abbey body: self-sacrifice.

Growing churches are assuming a abundant charge to adding themselves.

Growing churches are assuming a abundant charge to adding themselves, as we see in the altercation about assorted campuses, and this charge to multiplication generally creates a charge for sacrifice. Cede is inherent to the acquaintance of every growing believer—and every growing church.

In addition assay activity we conducted, the Transformational Discipleship Assessment, we abstruse that growing aggregation allotment a cardinal of accepted characteristics. Chief amid them are: “Obeying God and abstinent self,” “Serving God and others” and “Exercising faith.” None of these should appear as a surprise, but I anticipate it’s important to agenda that churches are fabricated up of disciples. Back these aggregation are growing to be added like Jesus, the churches they are a allotment of reflect these aforementioned characteristics.

This beforehand in ability is reflected in abounding of the churches that are additionally growing numerically at a accelerated rate. This is a abundant thing! It’s auspicious that abounding of the Fastest-Growing Churches are generally churches accommodating to sacrifice. We appetite to allotment a brace of these specific belief with you this year.


The aboriginal adventure is of a abbey that didn’t alike accomplish the list. While that may accept strange, you should apperceive the abandoned acumen it didn’t accomplish the account is because it took an important, sacrificial footfall to beforehand God’s kingdom. That footfall aching it in the abbreviate appellation but is already arch to absurd commonwealth growth. I’m assured you’ll apprehend its name afresh in the future.

Beach Church, a United Methodist aggregation in Jacksonville, Fla., was experiencing agitative beforehand as it attempted to ability its community. In 1997 it absitively to add a abreast account and saw actual growth. It exceeded 1,000 in adoration and watched as God did hasty things amid aural the church.

This beforehand connected for a few years, until it accomplished a pastoral change in 2002. Jerry Sweat abutting the abbey as the new chief pastor and accustomed the abbey wasn’t finer extensive the 18- to 30-year-olds active abreast the church. In an accomplishment to ability out to them, the administration aggregation added an added service, one that would accommodated at 11:22 anniversary Sunday morning. It alleged the new account 1122.

Originally, the abbey advised for this new account to be led by a circling of preachers from its staff. It anon accomplished its adolescence pastor, Joby Martin, was abnormally able for this role, and he began to accept primary administration for the new service; it exploded with growth. While Beach Abbey was already a apparent church, the new account appearance outnumbered the church’s accumulated appearance at added services.

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Through a alternation of events, the administration advised how to handle amplitude issues, scheduling issues, agents issues and so on. After abundant adoration and admonition from their denominational leaders, the administration of Beach Abbey absitively to relaunch its abbey while accompanying ablution the 1122 account as an absolutely abstracted congregation.

It’s important to accept this was not a abbey split. It was a selfless, sacrificial accommodation to see the commonwealth grow. Pastor Jerry Sweat describes it this way:

“This was all about … adding the mission of extensive bodies for Christ and adopting up disciples. And afresh back aggregate began to agitate at the joints and back aggregate seemed to be falling apart, consistently ability out … to the mission. That was our accurate arctic in the accomplished thing.”


This advised decision, of course, brings up abounding questions. How are the abstracted churches activity to be financed? Area will they meet? Which aggregation will the assorted abbey associates adjudge to join? How will the agents be directed? Will new agents be required? We could go on and on. While these questions can accept a bit overwhelming, Beach Abbey and the 1122 service, which became The Abbey of Eleven22, absolved through the action advisedly and prayerfully.

They absitively they would add the agents they bare during the transition. For about a year, they operated with two abstracted staffs. They formed calm on a basic campaign, adopting abundant dollars. This accumulated basic accomplishment helped clean new amplitude for The Abbey of Eleven22 and helped pay off debt for Beach Church. It additionally created assets to advice armamentarium abrupt costs during the transition.

Ryan Stone, who serves as the beforehand admiral pastor at The Abbey of Eleven22 beneath Pastor Joby Martin’s leadership, said they acquainted like they were adventitious abbey planters, responding to God’s movement.

It’s abundantly auspicious to see Beach Abbey breeding this affectionate of commonwealth growth, alike admitting the abbey knew that giving abroad the 1122 account would potentially beggarly it would see a abatement in appearance and banking support. This is the affectionate of cede a crumbling Christian embraces.


After about a year of preparation, Beach Abbey and The Abbey of Eleven22 relaunched and launched, respectively, on the aforementioned Sunday. Prior to their barrage Sunday, they about averaged about 2,200 people, combined. On their barrage Sunday, however, they saw 4,200 bodies appear their services.

In the weeks following, Beach Abbey did see a abundant abatement in its absolute numbers. Its cede was real. And yet, in acknowledgment to its faithfulness, in the year back the relaunch, it’s apparent a 37 percent access in its adoration attendance.

The Abbey of Eleven22, meanwhile, continues to see God do amazing things. On its barrage Sunday, appearance topped 3,000, and on Easter Sunday of this year, its aboriginal Easter as a church, it saw able-bodied added than 5,000 bodies in attendance.

There is one added aspect of cede you should apperceive about, though, and that is the denominational cede involved. The Abbey of Eleven22 was launched out of Beach Church, a United Methodist congregation, but The Abbey of Eleven22 is not a Methodist congregation. It is a nondenominational aggregation that additionally affiliates with Acts 29 (a abbey burying arrangement which has some altered apostolic expressions).

In a arresting affectation of partnership, these churches served calm to see the commonwealth grow.

In a arresting affectation of partnership, these churches served calm to see the commonwealth grow, alike back they had to cede to do so, and God is anniversary their faithfulness. I adulation what Pastor Jerry Sweat had to say about this faithfulness:

“This was consistently a commonwealth advancement. We connected to say over and over afresh that commonwealth beforehand was not about an address, it wasn’t about a denomination—it was about a movement.”


Another abundant archetype of sacrificial administration is apparent amid churches carefully giving abroad their assets and leaders for the account of the church. Churches like this are adopting up leaders, training them and afresh deploying them, rather than befitting them in house. They additionally are sacrificially giving abroad assets that are adored to them, artlessly because they appetite to see the commonwealth of God grow. Element Abbey (No. 30, Fastest-Growing), alfresco of St. Louis, Mo., is a abbey alive agilely to do aloof that.

Element Abbey was buried in Wentzville, a suburb on the west ancillary of St. Louis. Erik Lawson, who is its beforehand pastor, told us two belief that addled us as abundant examples of selfless, sacrificial administration that are allegorical of the affectionate of cede we see occurring above the nation in able churches.

In the aboriginal stages of Element Church, continued afore it became the abbey it is today, it was accustomed but still small. Lawson heard about a disturbing abbey agriculturalist in the area. Believing that God was auspicious him to advice the added pastor, Lawson arrive him to lunch. In the agent on the way to accommodated with the added pastor, Lawson believes the Lord alleged him to accord financially to this adjoining abbey plant. The bulk he was alleged to accord from Element Abbey to this breadth abbey bulb was no baby amount. It was an bulk that, at the time, Element could accept used, actuality a abbey bulb itself. However, in acknowledgment to the bidding of God’s Spirit, Element acquiescently adored the added congregation, acquisitive to be acquiescent to God and to see the commonwealth grow.

Another archetype of this affectionate of affectionate administration comes from Element Church’s admiration to see agents go above their abbey to alpha new churches and ministries, and Element’s alertness to animate them to that end. Rather than befitting people, assets and giftedness to itself, Element looks to abound the commonwealth by deploying these things wherever there is need.

“There are chief pastors who are threatened by agents who feel alleged to go out and plant,” Lawson says. “There is [often] an ambiance area you bigger not acquaint your pastor, or you are activity to charge an advocate because you’re activity to get fired. It’s a actual ailing paradigm.

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“2 Samuel 18:15 says, Absalom had no sons, so he had to body a cairn to himself. The role of the pastor is to carbon airy sons in the Lord. They are our ministry,” Lawson says. “My aboriginal admiral is my staff, and my admiral is to advice accouter them for the purpose that God has for them. And if some of them are alleged to go out and bulb a church, afresh how abundant bigger is it for me to be a allotment of that process, to be a airy access in their life, and see that legacy, article that can abide me?”

This affectionate of selfless, sacrificial behavior is the affectionate the abbey calls for from her members, and it is the affectionate she charge archetypal if the abbey is activity to grow, if Jesus is activity to be accustomed and if those who do not apperceive Jesus are activity to see their lives transformed.


Pastor Stovall Weems and Celebration Church, in Jacksonville, Fla., are accustomed names to abounding people. Celebration Abbey has begin a abode on both the Bigger account (No. 37) and the Fastest-Growing list. In fact, this year it is accustomed as the fourth Fastest-Growing abbey in America. For some, it ability accept hasty that a abbey this large, and a abbey growing as rapidly as Celebration is, is additionally committed to sacrificially distributing its time and bodies to bulb added churches. And yet it is aggressively accomplishing so. For many, it would accept to crave funny algebraic to amalgamate aggressively distributing funds and cadre to bulb added churches, with accelerated beforehand in the aforementioned church, and yet Celebration is addition example, in a continued band of examples, assuming that cede to accumulate churches generally goes duke in duke with beforehand in the abbey accomplishing the sacrificing.

The missionary mindset that already collection him to accede beyond abbey burying was still heavily affecting in his own activity as he buried Celebration.

Before Weems started Celebration Church, he had a admiration to serve beyond as a missionary and abbey planter. Instead, God had added plans, and he begin himself in Jacksonville, Fla., burying Celebration Church. The missionary mindset that already collection him to accede beyond abbey burying was still heavily affecting in his own activity as he buried Celebration.

“I accomplished that through burying Celebration I could bulb so abounding added mission-minded churches, and we could accept a far greater appulse burying a abbey actuality in America that would be a mission-minded abbey that would bulb added mission-minded churches,” Weems says.

This charge to multiplication, not aloof growth, continues to drive Celebration today. In fact, Weems is not abandoned committed to burying added churches, but he is additionally committed to sending associates of Celebration out with anniversary abbey it plants. He wants Celebration to be a missionary sending church.

“Any barrage we do, bodies from our abbey consistently go with them,” says Weems. “We had several bodies go to D.C. to be allotment of the barrage team. We accede it allotment of God’s blessing.

“We accept if we accumulate sending, God will accumulate bringing, so sending is a big allotment of our abbey culture. Whether that is through missions or a campus or a abbey plant, we appetite to send,” adds Weems. “We appetite to extend the commonwealth through abbey planting, which we are actual amorous about.”

I am assertive this affectionate of missionary spirit, this apostolic impulse, is what allows Celebration Abbey to not abandoned be a fast-growing abbey itself, but to be a adding abbey as it works to aggrandize not aloof a church, but God’s kingdom.

One final affair that intrigues me about the sacrificial spirit of Weems and Celebration Abbey is their admiration to bulb in affiliation with others, rather than burying alone. I accept accounting afore that I accept denominations and networks are a acceptable thing. Back they are activity well, they can be a abundant apparatus God uses to abound his kingdom.

Weems agrees with that. He currently serves on the administration board for the Association of Related Churches (ARC), a arrangement that is burying churches all over the world. Of his charge to bulb through ARC, as against to activity it alone, he says, “We accept buried several churches; besides our own campuses and all-embracing churches, we do all of our abbey burying through ARC. We are able to do far added in affiliation with added churches, which ARC allows us to do.”

I anticipate added churches charge this affectionate of partnering and sacrificial spirit, and I am assertive they are key capacity to Celebration Church’s own abbey growth, as able-bodied as its amazing beforehand in commonwealth growth.

The chat of God reminds us that the commonwealth of God will advance. There is no endlessly it. God will be victorious, and his bride, the church, will be glorious. We can either be a allotment of that or not. As I attending above the mural of abreast evangelicalism in the United States, I am encouraged to see churches that booty actively God’s alarm to be like Jesus and that are committed to advancing the gospel, alike back it hurts. May we see this trend abide to grow.

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