The Four Phases of Church Planting
1. Preparation Phase.
The partner church must prayerfully prepare itself for the task at hand. A group within the partner church must prayerfully prepare itself for the task at hand. A group within the partner church should be selected who will serve as liaisons between the new work and the partner church. This group may be a mission council or team and must commit themselves to pray for, provide counsel to, support, communicate with, and advocate for the new church in all matters. The partner church should work to understand the nature of the new church and work toward the development of a strategic plan for the work. It is important that during the preparation phase, much information about the new work area is secured, studied and prayed over. During this time period, the partner church needs to solidify the ownership of the task to which God has called them.
2. Cultivation Phase
This is a time when activities and ministries are conducted in the target area in order to discover where God is at work. Concentrated prayer plays an important role in this phase. Through a variety of activities such as back yard Bible clubs for kids, block parties, home Bible studies, and door-to-door visitation, God begins to reveal those places where He is at work.
Relationships are developed and nurtured. This may be a rather unstructured time in the life of the new work and the planter must be sensitive to the direction of the Holy Spirit on a daily basis. Upon arriving at Philippi, Paul tarried for a few days. In some ways the cultivation phase calls for the planter to tarry for a few days, getting to know your target area and waiting for God to reveal “Lydia”.
3. Formation Phase
As God begins to draw a group unto Him for the purpose of forming a new church, many details must be addressed. These include a name, a meeting place, service times, music, children and youth ministries and ministry development. Some of these may have been addressed in the preparation phase, but it is here they begin to take shape. It is in this stage that the group begins to take on an identity as a body of elect believers, which is one of the most exciting times in the life of the new church.
4. Maturing Phase
After the initial burst of energy, it becomes evident that this is a marathon, not a sprint. In this phase, long term plans are laid down and in some sense God begins to instill a type of genetic code that will guide this church for the remainder of its life. Issues such as correct doctrine, discipline, and church rules are formalized in this phase. It is critical that missions become a part of the genetic code of this new church so it will reproduce itself soon and often.