The Challenge of Church Planting

This post is part of an ongoing series looking at church planting.

Obviously, church planting is not all fun-and-games. There are plenty of challenges inherent in starting a new church, including those of:

  •      Momentum. Overcoming friction is difficult; it’s hard to get something new moving.
  •      Change. By-and-large people like things the way they are, but church plants require people do something different—sometimes radically so.
  •      Imagination. People often struggle to imagine things in ways that are sufficiently unlike what they’ve previously experienced.
  •      Finances. New churches cost money, which can be hard to raise in an existing organization, let alone for something that doesn’t exist yet.
  •      Leadership. Finding the right people to lead a plant can be nearly impossible, especially since the established church is already facing a leadership shortage.
  •      Busyness. Church planting takes a lot of time and energy, resources that are hard to come by without intentional living amidst our increasingly busy lives.
  •      Continuation. Even once a church plant gets started, it’s often hard for the church to stay outsider-focused or remain a catalyst in its community.
  •      Growth. Even when a plant continues to fulfill its purpose, it will often face growing pains as ministries and resources need to scale.

Church planting is no easy task. These challenges and the others that inevitably arise ensure that even with prayer, hard work, learning from other plants, and dedicated leadership, the realities of church planting require long, difficult, and often painful work.

Called to Plant a Church?

Despite those challenges, Christ has called His Church to expand to the ends of the earth.20 Much of the rhetoric around contemporary church planting focuses on the leadership abilities of the planter and the capabilities of the planting team.21 While  that emphasis makes sense—those who lead in the Church are called to high standards—the truth is that whatever a church plant accomplishes occurs by the grace of God and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.

Ultimately, the Triune God leads the church planting process: He is the builder of His Church.22 Those men and women who are called to commit their lives to starting and growing new local churches are but part of the process—humble servants in the ongoing advancement of God’s Kingdom.

20 See Acts 1:8.

21 See Hybels, Courageous Leadership.

22 See Matthew 16:18.


Published by Jacob J. Prahlow

Husband of Hayley. Dad of Bree and Judah. Lead pastor at Arise Church. MATS from Saint Louis University, MA from Wake Forest University, BA from Valparaiso University. Theologian and writer here and at Conciliar Post. Find me on social at @pastorjakestl

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