Skip to main content

8 Things I Wouldn’t Do Again if Planting Another Church

I have been involved in church planting for most of my ministry career – whether as a planter or as a supporter of planting. I love the process of planting. I love the energy and the enthusiasm a new church brings to a community.

Having planted two churches, I’ve learned a few things. Some of the things I’ve learned are things I wouldn’t do again if were were planting another church.

If you are planting now – or in the future – I hope these are helpful.

Here are 8 things I wouldn’t do again if planting a church:

Limit God’s vision.

In our first plant, we started as a church to reach one section of town. As we grew, God seemed to lead us to a different target geographically. In our second plant, we started in one location, relocated, then ended up in two different locations – in each move reaching entirely different segments of our community. God continued to refine and shape our path as a church. Who we were a few years in was not necessarily who we thought we would be as a church.

Fail to challenge people to grow in their walk with Christ.

I don’t know that we shied away from this – it certainly was our heart and our vision to make disciples, but in the early days, we were very conscious of reaching the lost. I wouldn’t change that either – and I’m still trying. Reflecting back, however, we may not have been as bold as I wish we had been in challenging people to grow. In addition to growing in weekly attendance people need to grow individually. It wasn’t enough to know Jesus – we needed to strive to be like Him – even when it involved change in them and their daily lives.

Shy away from talking about money.

So many people think all a church does is talk about money. We attempted to avoid this stigma from day one. We concentrated more on serving than we did giving. (And both are needed.) In the process, we neglected to develop our core givers those first couple of years, we put ministries on hold we should be pursuing, and we robbed people of the opportunity to become generous givers and consequently to feel the reward of trusting God completely.

Resist leaders from other churches.

We wanted to plant a church for non-believers, but we needed leadership to be successful. When leaders from other churches came, however, we were hesitant to plug them in for fear we would be seen negatively by other churches. In the process, we missed out on quality leadership and we denied people the right to follow their own heart.

Expect everyone to be as committed a few years into the plant.

The fact is, life changes. Some people are starters and some are finishers. Some of the original people will grow bored with things as they are and or they may even disagree with some of the directions the church plant goes. Some will become overwhelmed, tired, or simply feel led elsewhere. They had a great impact in our beginning, but they sought opportunities elsewhere in later years – and it’s okay. Be thankful for the investment they made in the beginning.

Worry about the external critics.

In both plants, it seemed our biggest critics were from other churches in the area. They didn’t agree with our style of worship, our teaching (which we tried to make very Biblical), or even the need for us to exist. I let it bother me too much the first couple years. Then I had a wise planter give me some advice. I still hold on to it today for other applications. He said, “Ron, seek your affirmation among the people God sent you to minister to”. The people we were reaching with the church plant – the hurting, lost, wanderers – were so thankful we had obeyed God to plant. The more I focused on them the greater sense of accomplishment I felt in my obedience to God.

Wait long to reproduce.

We were 5 years old when we launched our second campus. I see churches do this in their second full year. There are so many in our city who need hope. Taking a risk on my own comes easy, but sometimes I’m too careful when representing God – as if He can’t handle something so large. When God leads, I want to move quickly. We saw several opportunities to launch other locations we passed on because we didn’t feel “ready”. I’m not sure we ever would have been.

Delay the need to add structure.

We were a church plant. We were often escaping the structure and traditions which keep so many churches from growing and reaching outsiders. But with growth can quickly come chaos without some carefully planned policies and procedures. You want to add smart structure – and always want to be open to frequent and even constant change, but even church plants need a few systems to guide the organization. And the best way to do this may be to find people to help you do it. With a background in business I was a natural to do this, but I hated the management part of it – so we didn’t do it as well as it could be done. We were running well over 1,000 before we hired someone as an administrator. We should have done this earlier. If a church is 400 or 500 hundred in attendance this becomes a full-time job. If the plant is smaller – recruit part-time help or even volunteers.

Have you ever been part of a church plant? Anything you could share with us?

Related Posts

Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

More posts by Ron Edmondson

Join the discussion 26 Comments

  • Jon Dewey says:

    From my experience, the only thing I would add is: Sometimes it is outside your control. I was part of a church plant in 2001. Just at the time we were planning (and big enough!) to move from being a coffee house bible study to a stand-alone congregation, 9/11 happened. 50% or more of our participants were military, and were deployed. That pretty much ended everything right there, because the majority of the leadership were military members. There was no way to recover from that. This didn't temper my zeal to start a church, but it did end that particular plant.

  • Gary Lee Parker says:

    Ron, Yes, I have been part of a few church plants, but the first one I was a Part of was one in the Westport area of Kansas City, Missouri area. One of the vision of the founding Pastor was to reach out to the LGBYQ community with God's love and accept them as they are, but too often the church leaders of our denomination would stick their thoughts that LGBTQ people can only come to Christ and a part of the church if they repented of their sin of sexual orientation and became heterosexual.

  • Theresa_M says:

    It's been well over a year since we left our church plant campus that we committed to helping start after it closed, in my opinion, abruptly. That hurt our family immensely. My advice is to church leaders. Communicate with your church members. Understand that when a second location is opened there is an investment from the core members who agreed to move from one established location to starting another. That body of believers becomes a community, a family. A lack of communication makes them feel as if they are an afterthought. For our family, had the communication been more forthcoming we would have merged back into the main campus and continued working. But, the disconnect between campuses was apparent and the 'vision' outweighed the spiritual needs of the community. This still burdens my heart because I love my church family. I still communicate with them even though we scattered to different churches. Church leaders, your members trust your leadership. Please take that responsibility seriously. Respect them enough to communicate and prepare, especially when a major change is on the horizon.

    • ronedmondson says:

      Good word, Theresa. Thank you. I can't speak to decisions made when I was not there, but there appears to have been some change of vision. We never anticipated that campus would ever not need funding from the larger, original campus. We saw it as a missional initiative. Again, I can't judge another leadership's intentions – and don't know much; certainly not whether it was right or wrong – but, this is just an outside perspective. I do, know, however, that we accomplished what we sat out to do – reaching people we wouldn't reach otherwise – and, I'm eternally grateful for people willing to make that sacrifice. God bless.

      • Theresa says:

        Ron, I hope in reading my comment you can interpret my heart. 😊 The second campus touched a lot of unchurched or even re-churched people. It was a place to start over and learn how to have a relationship with Christ. It was a bright lamp in a haze filled world. I miss that area. Our church home ministers to a different area of town. It's just as needed but I still feel that pull back over to that community. 😊

  • Daniel Doss

    I read this just to make sure one of them wasn’t “hire Daniel Doss”. 😉

  • tsprandel says:

    This information will be really helpful. We are starting a Bible Study that will form the core group to do a church plant here in our small town. I appreciate this helpful info. Thank you for your blog and helpful insights.

  • Kerry Snyder says:

    Thanks Ron! Love these tips. I just joined a church plant here in Loveland, Co. Do you have any leadership ideas or thoughts on Children/Student Ministry? I'd love to hear some of your thoughts, some of your ideas, and what you did/are doing for those ministries. Keep the great leadership stuff coming, I've been benefiting from you for a while now, but this is my first time commenting.

    • ronedmondson says:

      Thank you so much. I'd be happy to connect you with some great pastors in both areas. My philosophy was to staff those areas with people passionate about them, willing to study best practices and what others were doing, and pour into students. Those were very delegated areas. I am passionate about seeing them done, but not able to put a lot of hands on energy on them and still lead everything else.

      • Kerry Snyder says:

        Ron, that would be awesome. I'd love to get some contacts here in the area if you know of them… Please shoot me an email whenever you happen to get the chance!

  • Thanks for sharing Ron. Appreciate you and tour friendship to me and Life Church Franklin.

  • Thank you Ron. What a wonderful article. Having planted or co-planted or been actively involved in 4 church plants I can identify with some of those pitfalls you highlight. Your honesty is refreshing and I'm inspired that you would let us benefit so much from your knowledge, experience and insights. Thanks.

  • ronedmondson says:

    Thank you. Praying for you. Let me know if I can help. Love South Florida!

  • @dvest says:

    I am apart of a church plant in South Florida. We are launching in September. I love hearing/reading these types of things from leaders who have gone before me.

    Thanks Ron.

  • culturalawakening says:

    These are great tips. Thanks! I'm on staff at a church planting church in Northern Virginia. Very excited about God leading towards a church plant in the future. Practical tips like this are priceless. Thanks, again.