Thoughts on the “Priorities in Fast-Growing Church Plants” by Ed Stetzer

22 02 2012

Priorities in Fast-Growing Church Plants

by Ed Stetzer


Ed Stetzer is director of LifeWay Research and missiologist in residence at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, Tennessee. He holds two masters and doctoral degrees and has written dozens of respected articles and books including Planting Missional Churches, Breaking the Missional Code, Compelled by Love, and Comeback Churches.

Church plants that grow faster are also intentional about their outreach priorities. For example, 80 percent of fast-growing churches put 10 percent of their budgets toward outreach and evangelism compared to 42 percent of struggling churches committing this percentage. Fast-growing churches also use more contemporary worship styles that are more culturally relevant to the unchurched people they are trying to reach.

Other significant findings that differentiate fast-growing church plants from struggling church plants during the 3-year period following launch include:

  1. Only 9 percent of fast-growing church planters are given salary support past 4 years; 44 percent of struggling church planters are supported past 3 years.
  2. 63 percent of fast-growing church planters raise additional funding for the church plant. Only 23 percent of struggling church planters raise additional funding.
  3. Planters leading fast-growing church plants are given more freedom to cast their own vision, choose their own target audience, and they have more freedom in the spending of finances.
  4. Fast-growing church plants have multiple paid staff. Two paid staff members was a majority among the church plants.
  5. A majority of fast-growing church plants utilize two or more volunteer staff as part of the church planting team prior to public launch.
  6. Fast-growing church plants utilize more seed families than struggling church plants.
  7. Fast-growing church plants use both preview services and small groups to build the initial core group.
  8. Fast-growing church plants that use preview services used three or more of these services prior to public launch. A large contingent of these churches use over five.
  9. Fast-growing church plants have children and teen ministries in place at time of launch and offer at least three ministry opportunities to first-time attendees.
  10. 57 percent of fast-growing church plants teach financial stewardship during the first 6 months from public launch. By contrast only 40 percent of struggling church plants teach financial stewardship.


My thoughts on Dr. Stetzer’s article:

  1. Finances matter.  The church planter must prioritize either raising support or being bi-vocational for the first four years.  Otherwise the financial pressure is too great on the church planter’s marriage and family.
  2. It usually takes between three and four years for a church to have the finances to support a pastor full-time.
  3. Team leadership is crucial.  Building a strong leadership team is crucial in the start-up.  If the planter can’t mobilize a team before he starts, he will often have a difficult time building a team after he’s started.
  4. From the beginning, the church planter must call people to serve.  He must be able to mobilize the growing team and deploy people into their gift areas.
  5. Excellence matters.
  6. The church planter is the visionary leader and must be gifted in vision casting and in faith.

What’s missing in Dr. Stetzer’s research:

The key element missing in Dr. Stetzer’s article is the spiritual component.  When we study the planting of churches in the book of Acts we see the emphasis upon spiritual power, not methodologies.

What makes a great church plant?

  1. Great churches are built through the releasing of God’s power, resulting in changed lives.  The #1 priority of the church planter is the proclamation and demonstration of the kingdom of God.  God’s kingdom changes and transforms lives, one person at a time.
  2. Great churches are built on prayer.  Men whom God mightily uses to plant strong, dynamic churches are men of prayer.  Prayer is a hallmark of their church plant.
  3. Great churches have a passion for winning the lost.  They will try new things and think missionally; they will line up people and resources around God’s heart for those who are not yet in the fold.
  4. Great churches are built on the strong teaching of God’s Word.  Men who plant churches that impact their communities are men who can open the Bible, teach with authority and see lives changed through their teaching.  They are winsome, joyful and compassionate in their teaching.
  5. Great churches with dynamic power speak often of the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  They are used to release the Spirit’s work in the lives of the believers.
  6. Great churches are built by men of faith who, in turn, surround themselves with teams of men of faith.  Men of faith attract men of faith.  Faith moves mountains.
  7. Great churches are doctrinally strong.  Doctrine matters.  New believers must be grounded in what they believe and who they believe.  Doctrine classes and strong doctrinal sermons are key.
  8. Great churches give.  You show me a church that is growing and I’ll show you a church that gives.  The stewardship principle is always true: faithful in a little always results in faithfulness in more.  In every church plant, God gives a little bit at a time. If the church is faithful in giving, God promotes it with greater resources.

Carpe Diem Gloriae Dei,




One response

28 02 2012
Dorinda Funk (nee: Jacksch)

Pastor Steve, Your words have come at the most critical time in our new church planting. The insight that you bring forth in this article is so much more articulate than I could have produced. I miss my home church; Mountain Springs, the church family and your leadership on a regular basis. Keeping in touch with the wisdom you impart through this blogging sight has been very enlighting and I am very thankful.

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