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20 Best Church Website Designs In 2021 [With Stats + Analysis]

Planning to upgrade your church website in 2021, and looking for inspiration? Look no further than our list of the top 21 church websites.

We compiled this list based on how engaging and intuitive the website design is for site visitors.

Our Comparison Criteria For The Best Church Websites:

So how did we compare and compile this list of the best church websites? These rankings are based on a snap judgment test. The average web user forms an opinion in about 50 milliseconds based on many factors: structure, colors, spacing, symmetry, amount of text, fonts, and more.

So this is the test we’ve used – we tested each of these websites as if I were a new visitor in the area looking for a church. Ultimately though, we’re evaluating the church website design and user experience. We estimate how easy the website makes it to:

  • Find service information
  • Get in touch with someone
  • Catch up on the latest sermon or podcast
  • Get involved

20 Best Church Website Designs

1. Elevation Church – Best church website for newcomers

Elevation Church Best Church Website Designs Screenshot
Elevation Church’s website homepage: probably the best church website in 2021!

What we like:

The Elevation Church website is clean and simple. They’ve got stacks of content, but they draw you in with the primary call to action to watch their latest sermon and service. We love how easy they’ve made it to get involved with quick links to Giving, Groups, Volunteering, Outreach, and their e-Fam. They make it really easy for newcomers with their ‘New here?’ call to action which takes you through to easily digestible content for newcomers, and a way to engage their VIP program – which is really just a form, but it feels good!

2. Passion City Church – Best church website for everyday sharefaith resources

Passion City Best Church Website Designs Screenshot
Passion City Church website: your go-to site for daily Christian resources.

What we like:

The website is simple and appealing to the eye with attractive videos playing in the background. The site has several resources in the form of tutorials, and it is even easy to watch the last Sunday’s sermon right from the homepage. 

The site invites you to their next online session with an option to mark it on your calendar for ease of remembrance! From their homepage, there’s a link for giving with several options like online giving, mobile phone giving, cash and checks, and Amazon Smile.

3. Hillsong Church – Best church website for college courses

Hillsong Church Best Church Website Designs Screenshot
Hillsong Church website: best church website with  multiple SEO plugins every new website should emulate.

What we like:

The website has a simple layout with lots of links to a wide range of learning resources and the Hillsong Store. The church has a college that runs in various locations across the globe and online. The store is a good Christian book resource suitable for newcomers and the long-time Christian faithful alike. 

For newcomers willing to commit to Jesus, the site has a link to a prayer that you can say and then fill out the form below to connect to the Hillsong Church either online or at a physical location. 

4. Glow Church – Best church website for Christian podcasts

Glow Church Best Church Website Designs Screenshot
Glow Church website: enjoy the site’s laser glow color scheme.

What we like:

The homepage enlists some basic links to podcasts, giving, prayer requests, and connection options. The podcasts are available on iTunes, SoundCloud, and Spotify to offer new visitors a variety of ways to access them. Giving is easy based on your location in Australia or through their online giving platform. You can also use cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum for giving!

It’s easy to connect with the leadership when you fill in the prayer and request form, join connect groups, or visit their online campus, which is the major item with a call to action on the site. 

5. All Souls – Best church website for downloadable sermons

all souls best church website design screenshot
All Souls Church website: easy does it!

What we like:

The website is simply designed with easily accessible site controls for every church service, involvement in the church community, giving, upcoming events, and past sermons. 

The site welcomes users to the sermon library where they can download MP3 versions of past sermons for free. There are different ways to give, and the site has downloadable copies of financial accounts for the past years!

6. Christ Church London – Best church website for online church services

Christ Church London Best Church Website Designs Screenshot
Christ Church London website: one of the most vibrant church sites.

What we like:

The website has a lot of links to different functions, but the most eye-catching is the primary call to action for visitors to watch the services online through their Church at Home feature. We also love the straightforward links to options like pastoral support, online courses, connect groups, giving, and the latest podcasts that are accessible right from the homepage! 

7. Holy Trinity Brompton Church – Best church website for free Christian courses

Holy Trinity Brompton Church Best Church Website Designs Screenshot
HTB Church website: best church website coupled with a strong online presence.

What we like:

The website has a very simple design with a minimalist approach. New visitors are invited to access the free online courses on theology, marriage, and bereavement. You can also stay fully connected through their social media platforms and monthly email newsletter, HTB Snapshot. The giving platform offers you over seven ways to give depending on your preference. You’ll find a detailed navigation menu at the bottom of the homepage. 

8. Church of the City New York – Best church site with clear service times

Church Of The City New York Best Church Website Designs Screenshot
Church of the City New York website: conquering the city spiritually.

What we like:

This is a New York church community that currently hosts online services each Sunday under four unique service times, two in the morning and two in the afternoon. The main call to action for new visitors is to join the community Morning Prayer sessions each weekday to pray together through the previous Sunday’s sermon. You’ll find the links to giving, church calendar, podcast, and social media in the navigation menu at the bottom. 

9. C3 Toronto – Best church site for sermon playbacks

C3 Toronto Best Church Website Designs Screenshot
C3 Toronto church website: best site with large icons and diverse color scheme.

What we like:

What meets your eye on the site are large blocks with various links to access playbacks for the previous Sunday’s sermon, connection options for newcomers, online giving, and podcasts. You can further connect with the church by filling out their Online Connect Card and following them on social media. 

10. Bethel Church – Best church website for ongoing followers

Bethel Church Best Church Website Designs Screenshot
Bethel Church website: the best website with sliding tabs.

What we like:

The website has a detailed navigation menu with controls best suited for the existing church members. The UX makes it easy for you to access upcoming events, Bethel Store, downloadable podcasts, and Christian music. You can also stream some of the online church services via Bethel.TV for free.

11. Westminster Chapel – Most welcoming church site

Westminster Chapel Best Church Website Designs Screenshot
Westminster Chapel website: simple, compact, easy to navigate.

What we like:

The most outstanding feature that draws the eyes of new visitors to the site is the ‘Come As You Are’ clarion call inviting people from all walks of life to join the church community, which they describe as a ‘Family of all sorts’. New visitors can join the online church Sunday services as well as weekly life groups. There’s a link for giving options and downloading free MP3 versions of the latest sermons. 

12. Reality Church London – Best site for Bible study sessions

Reality Church London Best Church Website Designs Screenshot
Reality Church London website: simplicity and high-quality combined.

What we like:

The Reality Church London has a simple but high-quality website design with basic action links to connect groups, giving, and resources like the latest sermons. New visitors can easily join the men’s or women’s Bible study sessions that take place online. 

13. Summit Park Church – Best church website for life group access

Summit Park Church Best Church Website Designs Screenshot
Summit Park Church website: One of the most easy-to-navigate websites.

What we like:

The website strikes a lasting first impression as it opens to a homepage with a lively video background with high-quality Christian videography. The weekday and Sunday service times for their two locations are listed. New visitors can choose between joining the online or in-person sessions. The Life Groups are in nine categories and users can request advice on the best ones to join as a newcomer. 

14. Isla Vista Church – Most basic church website with a minimalist approach to text

Isla Vista Best Church Website Designs Screenshot
Isla Vista church website: best site with the most basic web design.

What we like:

Perhaps the most basic church website design, the Isla Vista Church website has a simple layout with direct access buttons to giving, latest sermons, church podcast, and weekly calendar. New visitors can receive regular church updates via text once they register for the same through the SMS number provided on the site. 

15. Citipointe Church – Best church website for pre-attendance reservations

Citipointe Church Best Church Website Designs Screenshot
Citipointe Church website: perhaps the best website with colorful video backgrounds.

What we like:

The website opens to a full-screen video background on the homepage and has large blocks with links to life groups, world events and updates, different church locations, and giving options. New visitors can join the online services or opt to either join in-person sessions with or without prior reservations. 

16. Embrace Church – Best church website with chatbot support

Embrace Church Best Church Website Designs Screenshot
Embrace Church website: white space meets large access icons.

What we like:

The website is simply designed with very little text and plenty of open white space. The header menu displays basic links to giving options, the latest sermons, and church contacts. Potential visitors can use the ‘New Here?’ call button to access groups, a connection card, and even contact the church through the chatbot. 

17. Flatirons Community Church – Best church website for transparency on giving dynamics

Flatirons Community Church Best Church Website Designs Screenshot
Flatirons Community Church website: color and functionality blended into one.

What we like:

The website opens to a video background with a call to watch the latest sermon. From the large blocks, new visitors can link to groups and giving statements for the previous year. The giving and Flatirons Academy links are accessible at the bottom. 

18. World Changers International Church – Best church website for streaming services

World Changers International Church Best Church Website Designs Screenshot
World Changers Church website: one of the best sites with colorful video backgrounds.

What we like:

The website combines the latest design trends like video background with colorful static images and large blocks inviting visitors to access various options like streaming church services, registering for upcoming events and blood donation drives, and giving. First-time visitors can watch a series of past sermons and podcasts via the resource center once they click on the ‘Watch’ call to action button under the First Time Visitor banner. 

19. Second Baptist Church – Best church website with the most attractive color scheme

Second Baptist Church Best Church Website Designs Screenshot
Second Baptist Church website: for the simplest domain name.

What we like:

The website has a simple design with a pleasant color scheme and high-quality photography. I love the colorful interplay when scrolling through the large banners with links to giving, past sermons, prayer requests, upcoming events, locations, and the next steps to take as a newcomer to nurture your faith with the church. 

20. Gateway Church – Best church website for dual language users

Gateway Church Best Church Website Designs Screenshot
Gateway Church website: keeping it simple and easy to navigate.

What we like:

The website opens to a video of the latest service playable right on the website. I love the eye-catching large banners with links and action buttons to different options like planning a first-time, in-person or online visit, registering your child for the Children’s Ministry, connecting with Gateway groups, Gateway Essentials store, and the online Equip Library. The site offers text in both English and Espanol.

Other Great Church Websites For 2021

These didn’t quite make the cut for the best church website, but if you’re looking for more inspiration, check these out:

  1. Fellowship Church
  2. Life Church
  3. Lakewood Church
  4. Saddleback Church
  5. Christ’s Church Of The Valley
  6. Willow Creek Community Church
  7. Newspring Church
  8. Southeast Christian Church
  9. Central Church
  10. North Point Community Church
  11. Calvary Church
  12. Eagle Brook Church
  13. Woodlands Church
  14. Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale
  15. Christ Fellowship Church
  16. Dream City Church
  17. Church Of The Highlands
  18. Crossroads Church

How Can I Have My Church’s Website Considered For The List?

Add a comment at the end of the post and include your church website’s URL. That’s it! You’ll be considered for the list when we compile it again for 2022.

Get started building your own church website with church website builder software!

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10 Best Church Leadership Conferences In 2021

Church leadership conferences are a great way for leaders to unwind from daily church life tasks. They are an opportunity to recharge, refresh, learn, collect resources and connect with other like-minded leaders. 

These conferences have many benefits, and that is why church leaders set aside time every year to attend them. Some leaders choose to bring along other church staff so that they can learn and grow together. 

In this article, we will share the ten best in-person and online church leadership conferences of 2021.

Best Church Leadership Conferences List

This a selection of the best church leadership conferences you can attend in 2021.

1. LeaderCast Live

Dates: May 5, 2021
Price: $79
Location: Cincinnati, OH 45221, United States

Leadercast Live Church Leadership Conferences
Previous LeaderCast Live Conference.

This is a one-day annual leadership event targeting leaders attending individually or in small groups. The event is meant to inspire and help pastors better their leadership roles and attracts over 100,000 visionaries every year.

LeaderCast’s mission is to create confident and infectiously inspired leaders who spread their impact on others. They cover every aspect of what it is to be an effective leader.

The conference can be attended virtually, but you can still connect with other leaders in your area to enjoy the classes by leadership experts.

2. Church Leaders Conference

Dates: April 27-29, 2021
Price: $180 (individual), $120-$150 (groups)
Location: Dallas, TX

Church Leaders Conferences Church Leadership Conferences
Jubilation at a past Church Leaders Conference.

Thousands of church leaders from different places meet in Dallas, TX to be encouraged by God’s vision, refreshed among other servant-leaders, and get equipped with leadership roles to advance God’s ministry.

It is a three-day conference with a pre-conference workshop to give you personal training and an opportunity to learn from other ministry leaders.

Breakout sessions will equip and resource you in many areas. Ministry overviews, leadership developments, and culture-relevant topics are just a few areas that will be featured in the talks.

All attendees receive all breakout session audios, podcasts, and resources at no additional fee.  

3. Christian Leadership Alliance Outcomes Conference

Dates: June 15-17, 2021
Price: $899 (members), $1,099 (non-members)
Location: Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Hotel, Orlando, Florida

Christian Leadership Alliance Outcomes Conference Church Leadership Conferences
Outcomes Conference dates for 2021.

The Christian leadership alliance has been hosting Outcomes Conferences for more than 40 years.

Other than executive leadership offered at this conference, the Outcomes Conference professional development also focuses on:

  • People Management and Care
  • Financial Management
  • Tax and Legal Studies
  • Board Governance
  • Communications and Marketing
  • Internet and Technology
  • Resource Development

This annual conference offers leaders the opportunity to build intentional relationships at both spiritual and professional levels.

You can check discounted prices for the conference for those attending in small groups on their website.

4. Catalyst

Dates: Available on request
Price: Free
Location: Online

Catalyst Church Leadership Conferences
Speakers at Catalyst come from diverse backgrounds.

Catalyst aims at empowering upcoming and existing leaders who love the gospel and want to be great revolutionaries in their churches. The Catalyst was purposely founded to strengthen and empower new crops of leaders across the globe. 

It aims at unifying, challenging, and equipping these leaders with various traditions and church originations. Leaders who attend benefit from world-class mentorship from business leaders and celebrated biblical teachers coming from diverse backgrounds.

Catalyst is an online program available on-demand for leaders who want to benefit from both business and church leadership mentoring. 

5. Arc Conference

Dates:  Available on-demand
Price: Free
Location: Online

Arc Conferences Church Leadership Conferences
ARC Conference’s focus theme.

The Association of Related Churches (ARC) Conference’s main aim is to help leaders, pastors, and future church planters build a relationship that can help local churches to prosper. 

The ARC strongly believes in equipping leaders with proper leadership skills through sharing life experience stories. The conference focuses on sharing each others’ stories of love, perseverance, trials, and adventures that have shaped them into who they are.

This conference is available on demand. Christian leaders seeking to benefit can get more information from the ARC website about their conferences.

6. Creative Church Culture (C3) Conference

Dates: February 18, 2021
Price: $49
Location: Dallas, TX

Creative Church Culture Church Leadership Conferences
The 2021 C3 Conference theme.

The C3 conference is a one-day event of intensive coaching, teaching, and learning on ways to advance the church. At the C3 conference, experienced leaders answer tough questions on how they have maneuvered the challenging leadership journey.

This is an online conference and leaders can host other church staff for a watch party. 

7. North Coast Training

Dates: October 19-20, 2021
Price: $49
Location: Vista, CA

North Coast Training Church Leadership Conferences
Church leaders interact at a previous North Coast Training Conference.

North Coast Training is a two-day practical tool for pastors and other church communicators. With break-out sessions and keynote speeches, your team will acquire knowledge and inspiration for foundational leadership and team building.

There will be both pre-conference and break-out sessions. Tickets are affordable at only $49 with lunch included. Church leaders are encouraged to bring along their teams to benefit.

8. Exponential Conference

Dates: October 18-21, 2021
Price: $39 (individual), $24-$29 (groups)
Location: Orlando, Florida

Exponential Conferences Church Leadership Conferences
Exponential includes roundtable discussions.

The Exponential Conference is among the largest church-planting annual gatherings for church leaders. It offers church leaders an opportunity to meet with other God’s people and connect with other planters.

Attendees can choose from over 200 workshops aimed at specific planters’ needs. This conference will be a 3-day event aimed at educating and inspiring planters on their leadership roles.

Exponential Conference also has a provision for those who can’t afford both time and money to attend. Regional conferences are offered close to your homes. This is a great opportunity for those who would wish to bring along their teams.

9. That Church Conference

Dates: May 4 & 5, 2021
Price: Free
Location: Aired online from Atlanta, Georgia

That Church Conferences Church Leadership Conferences
That Church Conference offers free tickets.

That Church Conference is a two-day nonprofit online event for pastors and church leaders aimed at helping digital communicators enhance their communication and reach a wider audience through the gospel. 

Attendees benefit from lessons by real practitioners. Topics covered include marketing, social media, technology, and communications.

Those who wish to benefit can either choose to sign up and watch live for free or buy a Replay Pass to watch later.

10. The Global Leadership Summit

Dates: August 5 & 6, 2021
Price: $169 (individual), $149 (2+ attendees)
Location: Great Hill Baptist Church, Austin, Texas, US

The Global Leadership Channel Church Leadership Conferences
The guest speakers at The Global Leadership Summit 2021.

The Global Leadership Summit brings together thousands of growth-minded leaders from around the world.

You’ll experience highly interactive sessions that will leave you re-energized and with a clear vision. Business experts and church leaders will give talks on various faculties including:

  • Maximizing profitability
  • Building trust
  • Overcoming fear
  • Improving workplace civility
  • Managing conflict
  • Influencing change

You can choose to attend either in-person or online.

Let Us Know Your Favorite

Church leadership conferences offer leaders an opportunity to learn and benefit those they lead. Congregations are encouraged to support their leaders and other church staff to attend these annual gatherings.
Let us know if you have a favorite from the list above or if there are any you’d like to recommend. Experienced running a church? Interested in sharing knowledge and collaborating with other leaders? You can apply to join our community of experienced Lead Pastors here.

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Recognizing Problems That Arise In Church Planting

I am writing about church planting…still. It is one of my favorite subjects. But I need to tell you something: though there is great pleasure and satisfaction in starting something new, it does not happen without sacrifices and challenges.

Even the most enthusiastic and optimistic church planter will have to, at some point, recognize and deal with the problems that arise in church planting.

So what would some of those problems be? Well, let’s start by looking back at the early church—the church plant of all church plants! With both physical growth and increasing diversity, the first apostles certainly experienced some start-up-like growth issues. For example:

  • Tensions between Jews and Gentiles (Acts 6:1-7)
  • Disagreement about circumcision (Acts 15:1-2)
  • Disputes about responding to political leaders (Romans 13:1-7)
  • Controversy about dietary choices (Romans 14:1-4)
  • Lawsuits between believers (1 Corinthians 6:1-7)
  • Twisting the Gospel (Galatians 1:6-10) 
  • Disunity between believers (Philippians 2:1-4)

These alone don’t paint the full picture of what a church planter might have to face, but the personal experience of the apostles as the original church planters (see 1 Corinthians 4:9-13; 2 Corinthians 6:3-10), might cause some to rethink before agreeing to the job and embracing the call! 

Putting aside the topic of modern-day apostleship for now, what we can say is this: the nature of church planting is apostolic. Without a clear sense of calling, both the sacrifices and challenges required of the task might end up overwhelming any would-be church planter. 

Church planting is very exciting, but it has to be more than a good idea. It has to be a God-idea that speaks of His destiny and purpose for your life as well as for others.

Growing Problems

And so, we can see from the early church planter’s experiences there are inevitable problems and challenges in church planting. Some will be the same as those others faced, some will be unique to your particular situation and circumstances.

However, here’s what you need to remember: there are going to be good problems and there are going to be bad problems. Good problems are about growing. Bad problems are about growing, too. Often, the only difference is how you see them, and ultimately how you handle them.

Inspiring an Army of Volunteers

Thankfulness

There is one challenge in particular that I want to focus on: building a church planting team with volunteers. Unlike the world of business, where making money is the goal (therefore people can be hired as well as fired), the majority of the church is made up of volunteers. 

In business, employees are paid for their work, enticed with benefits packages and often rewarded for exceptional performance. Of course, there are rewards in the church—usually through opportunities to serve and lead. But, generally, church workers are expected to serve faithfully regardless of rewards. 

This notion comes out of a shared understanding and expectation that each volunteer is ultimately serving Christ, not man or mammon, because of their deep sense of thankfulness for God’s forgiveness through Jesus’ atoning sacrifice on the cross. 

A Noble Cause

A volunteer workforce that continues to offer itself willingly needs to believe that they are giving themselves to a noble cause—that is, something that is greater than themselves, expressing both moral and spiritual excellence.

I might put it this way: a noble cause is a stirring call to do something selfless with your life, resulting in something good for others. Without this belief—without this conviction—then sustained work from a bunch of volunteers is unlikely. 

While they might remain as members in “the club”, they may pull back from their commitment and willingness to serve. Remember, disengagement happens long before people leave altogether. Some people stay for years while disengaged. Other motivators keep them showing up: fellowship with their friends, loyalty to the brand, or perhaps having nowhere else to go.

When a noble cause seems no longer attainable, or is something they cannot be part of, then uncertainty undermines the conviction that once motivated the giver to give, the server to serve, and the worker to do the work that is so badly needed.

The Vision

Proverbs 29:18 (KJV) says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” This idea is a simple one: people must be inspired. Vision inspires, both motivating the heart and stimulating the mind. Without it, people literally lose heart and begin to look for other things to give their lives for. 

To be able to see—and to see clearly—is a gift. Combine that with another gift—leadership—and people will be ready to be led. When the vision is well articulated and participation is invited (not just needed nor demanded), the volunteer army engages willingly in the mission. Not just a noble cause to give one’s life for, but believing that the sacrifice will make a difference. 

Powerful vision and strong leadership give reason and purpose to those who want to serve.

Fear, Guilt, and Shame

There are, however, other motivators—powerful forces—that cause people to serve: fear, guilt, and shame. Tragically, these are the very things that we, in the Church, should be free from. 

Unfortunately, because these three—fear, guilt, and shame—evoke such powerful feelings, they can be used to try to motivate people. The Bible teaches that fear, ultimately, has to do with death and damnation. In Hebrews 2:14-15, however, it says of Jesus, 

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” 

With regard to guilt, the Bible teaches that this is the feeling we experience when convicted of sin, that is, separated from God because of our fallen state. This speaks not only of our actions but of the state of our hearts and minds, too.  

Oddly, although feeling guilty is not pleasant, when the feeling is absent it can lead us to believe that everything is OK when perhaps it is not. The condition of leprosy is an illustration of what happens when we have no sense of guilt. The ghoulish loss of limbs characteristic of a leper results because they have lost the feeling in their extremities and can no longer detect or heed the pain warnings.

Guilt is a strong feeling and, although it can be both true and false, true guilt functions as a warning to tell us that something is wrong that God wants to make right! This is what the scriptures say about this:

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – Romans 8:1

Simply said, guilt is about sin. When it leads us to repentance, then God not only forgives us but also cleanses us, that is, makes us holy again. Condemnation is no longer ours to bear. Not because it was unfounded or unfair, but because God’s son, Jesus, died for our sin, thereby fulfilling God’s demand for a perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world.

And, finally, there is shame. Shame is a painful feeling of humiliation and embarrassment. It comes from knowing that you have done something wrong or foolish. 

Adam and Eve were perfect in all ways while they were in the garden in relationship with God. When they did the one thing that God warned them not to do, their sin caused them immediately to feel shame, and so they went away and hid themselves from God (Genesis 3:8-10). 

Biblical shame is a consequence of sin; but as with guilt, God promises to remove our shame when we turn to Him in repentance and faith. 

“As Scripture says, ‘Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.’”  -Romans 10:11

Godly Motivators

If intrinsic motivators are not powerful enough, then volunteers will cease to work. And if the things that motivate are not found within individuals, then they must come from without. 

It is a fact of life that leaders lead and those who don’t lead tend to follow. It is also true that there are more followers than there are leaders. Therefore, great things can and will be accomplished when leaders continue to motivate those who follow, as well as when those who freely choose to follow have the conviction and determination to do so. 

So what does this all have to do with church planting? Well, a church plant is not unlike a start-up in business really. In the beginning, there must be someone, usually entrepreneurial in profile, who has both vision (an idea) and conviction (determination) to make something happen. 

This person not only believes that it can be done but, more importantly, they believe in themselves to do it. Mix in a good dose of ambition and what you have is a highly motivated individual who is likely to need others (employees) to see his or her dreams come true! 

This is not much different from the church planter/pastor who has a vision from God to plant a church and believes they have been chosen by God to do it. They are usually highly motivated, enthusiastic, ambitious individuals who want to inspire others to join them in the new church they are starting. 

Some do it through selling a fresh exciting vision, while others are able to recruit volunteers just through having a charismatic personality. When the two come together—that is, an exciting vision communicated by a capable, convincing, magnetic leader—it results in people wanting to be part of it. 

That’s a good start, but usually the real test of a volunteer’s commitment comes after the works begin…when days turn into weeks, and weeks turn into months, and months turn into years, and things may not be going as planned. 

More is required from the same people who have been doing all the work, as well as faithfully giving, with the promise that when the work grows a little bit more then there will be others to share the work. (Just an aside: having a larger team does not change the 80/20 principle, that is, most of the time 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people, no matter how many people you have!) 

This brings us back to motivation. When volunteers are tired and perhaps feeling a little disillusioned, they tend to need a little more motivation from the leader they have been following. In the business world, the promise of added reward for extra effort is not as common as you might think. 

More often than not, it is the “performance evaluation” that subtly intimidates employees by highlighting “areas of needed improvement”. The ultimate fear is failure to perform resulting in dismissal, that is, “You’re fired!” This doesn’t happen in the Church, not with volunteers anyway. 

Oh, yes, there are times when people are asked to leave and, in extreme cases, excommunicated; but rarely is there a performance evaluation, let alone the setting of clearly articulated measurable goals. 

Servanthood

The temptation, at this point, is for church planters/leaders to play the “servant card”. The argument goes like this: “If we don’t hire people to work, then we can’t fire them if they don’t. And so, we have to find some other way—some compelling way—to motivate the volunteer staff.” 

So, they play the servant card! What’s the servant card? Simply, they tell people that God has called us to serve (which He has). But this reminder is not usually used to inspire, but to make individuals feel obligated. It plays on fear, guilt, and shame rather than God’s love, mercy, and grace. 

Again, the idea is that because of what God has done for you, you must now serve him. Rarely articulated but clearly understood: it is payback time! The motivation to serve, which must be understood in leading a volunteer army, should come from a heart that’s so overwhelmed by gratitude that serving is a delight and a joy.

For any thank-offering to God to be holy, it must be freely given. When we are made to feel obligated to serve then our offering is payment. We remain as servants rather than become the children of God. We find that God’s “unconditional love” has conditions. We haven’t received a free gift from God, after all, but one with strings attached. 

This is a real problem in the church. There wouldn’t be as many books written on the subject of planting and growing healthy churches if it wasn’t. But this is what I want to leave you to think about, especially if you are about to plant a church: 

Leaders—blinded by their own ambition—are often tempted to recruit people (converts and believers) in order to fulfill their own vision and ministry aspirations. The emphasis turns from building up the Body to do the work of the ministry to raising up workers to serve the Pastor to fulfill his or her own vision and ministry. 

When it comes to motivating God’s people to serve, the focus must always be that we’ve received a gift that none of us deserved: God’s love, mercy, and grace. The key is thankfulness, not a sense of obligation.

The Privilege of Leadership

But when it comes to leadership, we must always understand it as a privilege. The privilege? To lead God’s people into their destiny and purpose as the Body of Christ, believing that God, as He has promised, will build His church as you serve in rest and faith.

Believers must never be seen as a resource to get the job done, but as sheep that have been entrusted into your care to shepherd. After all, together with them, you are the Church, the Children of God, the Body of Christ, a Kingdom and Priests of the Most High God!

For more on the process of church planting, check out my introductory article “Planting a New Church”.

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Insights Tools

10 Biggest Streaming Churches And The Software They Use

Technology is rapidly changing the way churches are welcoming people to worship services and sermons. 

“Whether you are joining us in person or online, we invite you to experience our services and be a part of the Lakewood family.” This is how the nondenominational Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, welcomes those who visit the church’s website. On March 15, 2020, 4.6 million worshippers accepted this invitation and followed the church’s live streaming service. 

When the Covid-19 pandemic started wreaking havoc across the world at the beginning of 2020, church services had to be suspended in many parts of the world in compliance with government regulations. If this was a time to panic for many other businesses, the story was different for streaming platforms, businesses offering streaming software, and social media companies.

In this article, I focus on the 10 biggest live streaming churches. I will also look at the reasons the number of live streaming churches is growing. The article also identifies the software these churches use for video streaming of their Sunday service or any other services for that matter. 

Churches Have Always Embraced Technology 

Even though sermons on platforms like YouTube, Facebook Live, and Zoom may be gaining traction because of Covid-19, churches have been embracing technology for some time now. Before churches could live stream, many recorded their sermons and distributed them either for free or for a fee. Others had their Sunday services aired by major broadcasters. 

An article published by TheGuardian.com tells the story of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, and how it was already embracing basic software by 2008.

The Guardian reports that, as far back as 2008, the church was already using software to track children in church and register them for Bible studies. Congregants could also “go online to request counseling on a variety of spiritual and personal matters.”  

In 2009, Daniel Terdiman wrote an article for the technology website Cnet.com entitled “Technology and the megachurch.” He starts his article with a question: “If you’re in charge of what is thought to be one of the most powerful, influential and important megachurches in the United States, if not the world, how do you make sure that your message is reaching the largest possible audience?” 

The answer to Terdiman’s question comes easily for Brady Boyd, the lead pastor at the New Life Church: “technology.” 

In case a one-word answer was not sufficient for Terdiman, Boyd extends his answer: “Churches have to stay current. We’re in the communications business.” Adding, “The whole purpose of a church is to communicate a message of truth … We have to stay informed, and we have to realize that most of the world is rapidly advancing in their ability to communicate.” 

photo of Prestonwood Baptist Church, Texas for church streaming software
Prestonwood Baptist Church, Texas is an early adopter of streaming technologies.

Why Churches Are Resorting To Live Streaming  

Churches have always been conscious that technologies like video streaming could assist them in reaching bigger audiences. This is a view also acknowledged by the Japanese electronics manufacturer Panasonic. According to Panasonic, “Producing an immersive, remote worship experience can also extend the reach of your church beyond the local community and give congregants the opportunity to view missed services through on-demand video.”

Like all other sectors of society, churches realize that the consumption of messages is mostly happening online. This is a reality noted by commentators like Matt Binder, who writes for the digital media platform Mashable.com. The headline of his article tells the whole story: “The live streaming boom isn’t slowing down anytime soon.”    

Referring to the future of worship services after the pandemic, Binder quotes Eli Noam, a Columbia Business School professor. Noam asks some pertinent questions: “If a church, for example, continues to Livestream services after the pandemic, will the elderly, sick, and people with children just find it easier to attend virtually? Will people participate in more services because it’s easier to attend from the comfort of home?

Binder quotes Noam saying, “Maybe the churches will be emptier but people’s religious lives will actually be enriched.” Adding,  “This [live video] is not temporary; the temporary situation [pandemic] is the accelerant .” 

Live Streaming Software For Churches

If the need for real-time church service broadcasting is growing, providers of church streaming software, streaming solutions, and technical support have not been left behind. Here are some of the live streaming service providers that make it possible for both large and small churches to live broadcast their sermons and services. 

Boxcast: Live Streaming Software For All Worship House Sizes

Screenshot of Boxcast streaming for church streaming software
Boxcast is suitable for first-time and seasoned streamers.

If there is one video streaming service I see in every list of the best church streaming software, it’s Boxcast. Boxcast’s promise: “Whether your congregation has 1,000 members or 100, our features and plans have been crafted to meet the needs of both first-time broadcasters and seasoned streamers.”

You can live stream on the Boxcast free trial for 14 days before deciding whether the live streaming software is for you. If you decide that it is, pricing plans start at $99/month and go all the way to $999/month.  

Wirecast:  Best Church Streaming Software For Beginners

Screenshot of Wirecast website for church streaming software
If you’re just starting out with church streaming then Wirecast is a great choice.

Describing the Wirecast video streaming service, the Director of Music Ministries at Fredericksburg United Methodist Church, Don Doss, says, “Yes, it’s true that the ‘BIG’ churches have all the cool equipment, but it’s also true that some smaller churches with smaller budgets can now produce quality video with the help of Telestream’s Wirecast software.” 

Wirecast comes with a free 30-day trial limited to two Rendezvous guests and does not permit ISO recording (an isolated recording of one camera in a multi-camera production). The service has two paid plans for both Mac and Windows: Wirecast Studio ($599) and Wirecast Pro ($799).  

Propresenter: Best For Both Pros And Beginners   

Screenshot of Propresenter app for church streaming software
Propresenter has some powerful editing features.

“Whether you’re a Photoshop expert or technology isn’t your friend, we’ve got you covered. Create beautiful graphics with our built-in editor.” This is how the developers of Propresenter market their software. 

Among the several features, you’ll find on Propresenter is the ability to record your screen for further editing, switch video outputs, and capture and output audio. The service also presents live streaming tutorials on its website. 

Propresenter has a free version, which is not designed to be used in front of an audience. The HoW (House of Worship) plan starts at $399 per year for a new account or $275 per year when renewing.   

Dacast: Best Live Streaming Solution For Churches On A Budget

Screenshot of Dacast's website for church streaming software
Dacast’s multiple bitrate streams optimizes broadcast across devices.

Visit Dacast.com, and you will realize that this live stream software promises every feature and functionality a live streaming church service needs. The service has 24/7 support, high-quality live streaming with top-tier CDNs, an all-device HTML5 player, VODs and live video integration, and customization that allows users to monetize their videos. 

Another valuable Dacast feature is that it allows you to set up multiple bitrate streams using Wirecast video or vMix broadcasting software. These multiple bitrate streams ensure that your live streams can be watched on different devices and internet connections with varying bandwidths.    

Dacast has a free 30-day trial. Paid plans start at $39 a month.  

vMix: Best For Building A Custom Live Production System

Screenshot of vMix software video app for church streaming software
vMix captures the power of expensive hardware as software.

vMix is a software video switcher and mixer that also functions as a live streaming software that works on Windows. Some of the software’s features include “LIVE mixing, switching, recording and LIVE streaming of SD, full HD and 4K video sources including cameras, video files, DVDs, images, [and] Powerpoint.”  

The vMix software is customizable, based on the user’s production needs. All these features can be enjoyed on a free 60-day trial. Paid plans start with the Basic HD, which costs $60, and go all the way to the Pro plan that costs $1200. The software’s developers say that “Each purchase does not expire and includes Free Version Updates for one year from the date of purchase.”

Churchstreaming.tv: Best For Broadcasting A Church Service To Various Sources 

Screenshot of Churchstreaming.tv website for church streaming software
Churchstreaming.tv makes it easy to broadcast across various sources.

“Video streaming simple enough for a church plant, powerful enough for worldwide ministry.” This is how Churchstreaming.tv advertises its service. The software makes it possible for a church service to be broadcast to various sources like YouTube, Facebook, or Apple TV. 

Churchstreaming.tv also frees bandwidth with real-time transcoding. The streaming solution allows for plugins that make it possible to customize viewer layout by embedding navigation links.  

Churchstreaming.tv has a free 30-day trial. Paid plans are based on the number of hours you need per month, the resolution, and video storage capacity. The plans start with the basic plan at $79/month. The Advanced Plan is the most expensive at $139 a month. 

Open Broadcaster Software (OBS): Best Free Live Stream Software 

Screenshot of Open Broadcast Software app for church streaming software
Open Broadcast Software is a free option great for newly planted churches.

If your church is still new and wants to use free live stream software, the best place to find this is at Open Broadcast Software (OBS). Even though OBS is free, it compares well to other church streaming software out there. For example, it doesn’t restrict the number of scenes you can seamlessly switch between using custom transitions. 

The OBS project is sponsored by several tech giants, including Facebook and YouTube. 

mimoLive: Best Live Streaming Software For Mac 

Screenshot of mimoLive website for church streaming software
mimoLive is professional-grade event recording software for Macs.

mimoLive provides professional live streaming tools for live streaming to Apple products, including Mac, iPad, and iPhone. The software promises “an all-in-one live switcher, video encoder, editor, and streaming software for Mac. It enables you to switch multiple cameras, insert presentations, add graphics, overlay lower-thirds, social media comments, transparency with green screens.” 

mimoLive’s 14-day free trial allows you to test drive the product. If you like it at the end of 14 days, you can get the Studio License at the cost of $699 per year or $69.99 per month. 

StreamShark: Best For Churches That Want A Month-To-Month Solution  

Screenshot of StreamShark website for church streaming software
StreamShark focused on developing a simple, intuitive interface for beginners.

The developers of StreamShark say that they “understand the pressures involved when live streaming.” Consequently, they have designed a workflow that aims to “ease the burden on the stream operator.” 

StreamShark’s leading features include instant stream archiving, real-time statistics showing viewer engagement, and live DVR rewind that allows viewers who join late to rewind and see areas they have missed.  

StreamShark’s pricing starts at $199 per month, and the most expensive plan is $999 per month. The advantage of using this software is that you can cancel your plan anytime. 

TruthCasting: Best For Ad-Free Streaming 

Screeshot of TruthCasting website for church streaming software
Thruthcasting makes it easy to Livestream from any device.

To show how easy the developers of TruthCasting believe their software is, they say, “If you can count to three, then you can live stream.” The software can be used whether you’re streaming from a webcam or a professional video camera. 

You can also use any encoder to send your video to the streaming platform. As long as audiences have an internet connection, they can view videos broadcast through TruthCasting on any device, wherever they are. 

TruthCasting offers a 15-day free trial. Churches with less than 2,000 members pay $39.95 a month to broadcast. YouTube and Facebook Live add-ons are available at $10 per month.

10 Biggest Streaming Churches 

Here are some of the biggest streaming churches I found on YouTube. To determine how big a church is, I looked at the number of subscribers it has on YouTube. 

Lakewood Church & Joel Osteen

Screenshot of Lakewood Church & Joel Osteen YouTube Channel
Lakewood Church and Joel Osteen tops the list with 2million+  YouTube subscribers.

Together, Lakewood Church and Joel Osteen (its pastor) have 2,202,000 subscribers on YouTube. According to Osteen’s YouTube channel, “More than 10 million viewers watch his weekly inspirational messages through television, and over 60 million people connect with Joel through his digital platforms worldwide.” 

Lakewood Church’s live stream goes out every Saturday at 7 pm and Sundays at 8:30 am and 11:00 am CST. Apart from delivering the message to its 304,000-audience on YouTube, Lakewood Church also uses Facebook Live.    

Elevation Church

Screenshot of Elevation Church App
Elevation Church even have their own app.

The work of Elevation Church is evident in its mission statement: “Elevation Church exists so that people far from God will be raised to life in Christ.” This Church does not seem to only target those far from God with its live streams; it’s also connecting those far from the church or each other.

The Elevation Church’s YouTube channel has around 1.99 million subscribers. The church’s YouTube worship channel has 2.85 million subscribers. It uses Vimeo and Comcast Technology Solutions as its video hosting solutions. 

Hillsong Church

Screenshot of Hillsong Church Youtube Channel
Hillsong stream live from locations all around the world.

The mission of Hillsong Church is “To reach and influence the world by building a large Christ-centered, Bible-based church, changing mindsets and empowering people to lead and impact in every sphere of life.” If Hillsong’s online following can be used to assess how well the church is living up to its mission, then it’s clear that the church is succeeding. 

With 409,000 subscribers on YouTube, Hillsong says that it has a global audience of 150,000 every week. Its video hosting platform is YouTube and Vimeo. 

Saddleback Church

Screenshot of Saddle Church Youtube Channel
Saddleback makes effective use of Youtube with 389,00 subscribers.

Saddleback Church’s motto is “one family, many locations.” With 389,000 subscribers on YouTube, this is a motto that the church seems to be living by. Its YouTube channel has more than 53,930,000 views.

Saddleback Church uses YouTube and JW Player as its hosting services. 

Life.Church

Screensshot of Pastor Ryan Sharp from Life.church
Life.Church hosts 90 services a week on five platforms.

Life.Church has a dedicated online service. The church has a message for those searching for meaning, connection, community, truth, and answers: “This is where you’ll find it.” Through its streaming service, Life. Church invites everyone to “come to join a community of people from around the world who are discovering answers, truth, and what it means to belong.”

According to Life. Church, has more than 90 online services every week on five platforms, accessible on any device. Its video hosting service is YouTube and Wistia. 

Bethel TV

Screenshot of Bethel TV website
Bethel TV’s streaming service is super-slick.

With its live streams, Bethel TV calls itself “your front-row seat to all that God is doing at Bethel.” The church invites all to “Watch anytime, anywhere.” This is an invitation that 296,000 people have already responded to on YouTube, where it has more than 33,500,000 views. 

Bethel TV’s hosting platform is JW Player. 

International House of Prayer

Screenshot of International House of Prayer's Livestream
IHOPKC hold themselves to a 24/7 service.

The International House of Prayer‘s (IHOPKC) mission statement reads, “The IHOPKC community exists to partner in the Great Commission by advancing 24/7 prayer with worship and proclaiming the beauty of Jesus and His glorious return.” 

A church that uses 24/7 to describe anything certainly needs some streaming service. This is what IHOPKC is doing using its YouTube channel that has over 296,000 subscribers. 

VOUS Church

Screenshot of VOUS' Channel
Vous has multiple channels to cater for different audiences.

The VOUS Church says that it has a simple mission: “to bring those who are far from God close to him.” The church has a dedicated team called the Crew Live that live streams to the church’s 194,000 YouTube subscribers.   

REVERE

Screenshot of REVERE's Youtube Channel
Revere’s make good use of multiple digital channels as well as streaming.

REVERE is a community of worshippers with 181,000 subscribers on YouTube. The church says that Christianity experienced a massive shift a generation ago when “The formality of corporate worship gave way to ‘intimacy,’ and we were forever changed.”

The shift wasn’t just in the area of Christianity; it was also in the way people worship. Today, REVERE members have several options to listen to sermons and worship songs: Spotify, Apple Music, Facebook, the Church’s website, and Instagram.

John Gray Ministries

Screenshot of Pastor John Gray of The Relentless Church
Pastor John Gray of The Relentless Church.

John Gray Ministries is led by a man who lives by the mantra, “We have a limited number of days on this planet, so give as much as you can, serve as best as you can, and love as hard as you can.”

Gray emphasizes the message above to the 114,000 YouTube subscribers on his ministry’s channel. The channel has a total of 3,461,300 views and counting.  

With numbers fluctuating, the world constantly changing, how can you measure success? Here’s an article that will help you make sense of the numbers: What Every Lead Pastor Needs To Know About Church Metrics.

If you’re looking for conferences to attend this year, check this out: 10 Best Church Leadership Conferences In 2021.

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Insights

Planting A New Church

I am a church planter—not just because I have planted churches, but because I believe in church planting. It is God’s design to grow His church on the earth. Church planting advances the Kingdom of God by taking the light into the darkness. It involves going to people and places that need to experience the love and power of God through Jesus Christ.

What makes church planters is not so much the act of planting churches or a trail of church plants, but the deepest conviction that church planting is God’s intended way to win the lost, to pastor and disciple those who believe, to train and equip the army of God, and to activate and send the Body of Christ into the world to plant more churches.

Things To Consider When Planting A New Church

If you’re planning to plant and pastor a new church, then here is a short list of things you need to consider before you set out.

  • Who are you trying to reach? Where do they live? How do you plan to reach them?
  • Will you need to do language studies before you start? Will vocational or professional training come first? Have you had any cross-cultural experience?
  • Are there any churches in the area already? Do you know their story? Are you planning to build a relationship with them before you start? 
  • What’s the budget for your church plant? 
  • When will you begin? Who needs to know? How will you communicate it?
  • What style of community church and worship service will you have? 
  • Do you have team members? Do you have a plan for developing launch team members? Do the launch team members know what will be expected of them? Who will lead the team?
  • What kind of support can you expect from other churches and church leaders, such as within your denomination, movement, church network, community church, house church, cell group? What kind of accountability do those partners expect?
  • Have you set clear goals? Have you set a timeframe for reaching them?
  • Are you and your spouse in agreement on planting a church? How will the church plant affect your family? 

Clearly, this list is not exhaustive, but includes some topics church planters, lead pastors, and launch team members need to carefully consider. Though there are various schools of thought about specific details of how to plant churches, these same questions are valuable.

Related Read: Recognizing Problems That Arise In Church Planting

Before we go further in talking about church plants, though, it might be helpful to have a shared definition of what I mean by churches. 

What Do We Mean When We Talk About “Churches”?

I always go back to God’s word when there is a question about our understanding of such things. Let’s take a look at what the Bible says about churches and church planting. 

The Idea Of Vine & Branches

In John 15:5, Jesus said to His disciples, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Jesus was speaking about things to come, explaining that He was the source of all that His Father in heaven would do on the earth; if they continued to follow Jesus in everything pertaining to their life and work, they would see the results of His work through them. 

But what does the concept of vine and branches have to do with churches and church planting? 

Well, for a start, there is only one vine—not many vines, but only one. Jesus was not referring to denominations, movements, or what we call churches (of which there are many), but to himself: 

The Son of God, sent by the Father, full of the Holy Spirit, to die for the sins of the world, to be raised from the dead, to send the Holy Spirit once ascended so that his work on earth would continue through his Body, the Church! What there are “many of” is branches. One vine, many branches. Simple, right? (I wish!) 

Let me explain further: Since there is only one vine, there is only one Church. If we are talking about planting new churches, then we must talk about something that is not separate from or additional to the one true and living Church, that is Christ’s.

Planting A New Church Is About People

Planting a new church is actually bringing about church growth. We are not starting something “new” as if it doesn’t already exist. And to be clear, since Jesus is the vine, we are the branches. People, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. People, born-again, Spirit-filled. People, called by name, set apart, consecrated, Spirit-gifted, mantled with the destiny and purpose of God, to advance His Kingdom throughout the earth! People. 

As pastors and church leaders you will need buildings for the church to meet in, and equipment to facilitate the ministry—that is, running programs, holding worship services, having meetings—but none of these things together or separately are the Church. The Church is the people. 

Don’t forget this, and if you truly believe it, then as you plant churches, keep restating what you believe with your life, for the rest of your life!

A Story About “Going” To Church

For a long time, a small group met in our house week after week, year after year, every Saturday night. Those were some rich times of ministry for my wife and for me. 

Over the years, different people came, some to stay, some just passing through. One man who was a “regular” would be among the first to stand up at the end of each evening and say, 

“Well, I gotta go now ‘cause I gotta go to church in the morning.” 

As he moved to leave, I would meet him at the door and say, “Just remember, you can’t go to church, you can only be the Church!” He and I would laugh before we blessed each other and said goodbye. 

This went on for some time until one night he got up in his usual manner, saying what he always said, but before I could answer he laughed and said, 

“Yes, yes, I know, ‘You can’t go to church, you can only be the Church’. 

As warmly as I knew how, I responded by saying, “No you don’t know, because when you do know something that God has revealed to you, it changes the way you talk and the way you act. It’s called, my friend, ‘transformation’.” 

You can’t go to church because the church is not a physical address or a building on the corner of a city street. It is not a worship service, meeting, or program. The Church is God’s people. This is the truth. 

My Story Of Planting A New Church

Years ago, when I set out as lead pastor to plant and pastor my first church, the District Superintendent of the denomination that I was with said, “We are sending you to another city to ‘organize’ as a new church.” It was his way of explaining a church plant. 

He was right—it took a lot of organizing as well as personal effort to plant that church from scratch! 

From the time we “went public”, there was no turning back: No Sundays off, no excuses for not delivering weekly sermons and Bible studies, meeting with the launch team, counselling church members, doing weddings and funerals, worship service preparation, etc. Planning, scheduling, organizing? You bet! But all that activity, and all my performance did not create or sustain His Church. Organize a church into being? I think not. 

What you end up with is a Christianized organization with its members and regular activities. What is needed—what every church planter and launch team needs—is a revelation of Christ’s Church by the Spirit of God, preferably before stepping out to plant a new church.

What we say or how we talk so often expresses what we think. When our thinking changes, then how we talk changes, too. If information is meant to inform, then a revelation of the Spirit is meant to transform. Jesus was not trying to inform his disciples with regard to His Church, He was imparting a revelation to them. Later, on the day of Pentecost when the disciples received the Holy Spirit, their transformed minds understood things that they could only know by the Spirit. 

As a consequence, they talked differently—no longer confused and scared by Jesus’ bewildering departure, but clear-minded and emboldened by an infusion of the Spirit of God. Peter’s response to the gobsmacked crowd that day would mark the beginning of a transformation that continued in many others who repented, believed, and followed Jesus. 

One Church, One Church Planter

So what’s my point? The point is that it is actually wrong to think that you can plant something that already exists. As Jesus explained, just as there is only one true vine, there is only one true Church. And there is only one Church planter! He said, “My Father is the gardener,” and He has planted His Church through His Son by the Holy Spirit. The Bible makes it clear that Jesus’ Church already exists and will prevail on earth until the Lord, Himself, returns. 

This brings us back to our definition. Church planting (“new” implied), is really about the Church being fruitful. 

There is no new vine to be planted, there are just branches to be grown. The growth is the Lord’s work in us and through us. He causes us to bear fruit, rather than we make ourselves fruitful (or productive) in his name. 

When God works through us in marvelous and miraculous ways, then He gets the glory and the testimony belongs to Him, rather than to man. Remember, as the scripture says, we are all, “like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). The house is God’s work. “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1). 

And so, when it comes to church planting:

  • The planting is God’s
  • The building is God’s
  • Even our ability to bear fruit is His!

When we understand this by a revelation of the Spirit, then our transformed heart and mind come into alignment with the heart and mind of God. 

Without this kind of alignment, any new work that a man or woman begins will end up being more about their good intentions—and falsely founded on the idea that they are starting a new church. Truly God wants His Church to grow; however, we must carry a revelation of His Church in our hearts and minds in order to remain in Jesus as we step out to do His work. All church growth depends upon this, as apart from him we can do nothing (John 15:5). 

So what we really mean when we talk about planting new churches is adding branches to the true vine that will, hopefully, bear much fruit. But adding a new branch is not like building an extension onto your house. 

The only way this kind of branch is added to the vine is when an individual repents, believes in Jesus, and follows Him. It is the individual, not a community church, that is added to Jesus. The new believer, then, becomes another branch in the living vine, with great fruit-bearing potential. 

This is key to pastors and church leaders understanding what is “new” about church planting: It is not about the nation or the city or the town you go to. Nor is it about the building or equipment or programs or worship services you run in your church plants. 

It is, ultimately, about each individual you reach with the gospel who gives their life to Jesus and is born again by the Spirit of God. A dead stone that is now living! That is what makes things new. 

But?

But what about the re-grouping, re-branding, re-packaging of the saints? 

What about lead pastors discipling those who are already “in Christ”? 

What about training and equipping, activating and sending? 

These are all good, necessary and important, but this is not new church planting, but rather shepherding believers to maturity. 

The chafing point in this is that we can work hard and spend huge amounts of resources caring for and being pastors to those who already believe in Christ, yet never see them become fruit-bearers in advancing the Kingdom! In fact, we might dare to conclude that the fruitfulness of the Body of Christ when it comes to church growth is a measure of our own ministry. And the cutting edge of the Church will always be in reaching the lost with the gospel of God’s love and forgiveness through Jesus Christ—in one word: evangelism. 

Our challenge is to do both well, that is, to pastor the Church in such a way that they are activated and sent out as “fishers of men”. Any other reason for church planting suggests we’ve failed to understand the apostolic and prophetic foundations of the Church (Ephesians 2:20). 

Advice for would-be church planters? In the words of Ed Stetzer, “Don’t let your church be a cul-de-sac on the Great Commission highway.”

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Insights

What Every Lead Pastor Needs to Know About Church Metrics

There isn’t a church planter or lead pastor who doesn’t care about success. Some may not admit this, fearing that might seem “unspiritual” to others. However, the desire for success in ministry is a common driving force.

Of course there are acceptable ways of talking about success. For instance, we talk about church growth all the time. Whether through winning people for Christ and discipleship of new converts or attracting existing believers to a church plant that seems new and fresh, growing churches is what it is all about. But which church metrics do we use to evaluate success? What kind of church data and tool can determine if we have met our goals?

In this post we’re going to provide an overview of church metrics and discuss their use (and misuse):

Keep reading to learn why and how to set church metrics that matter. 

Popular Metrics Church Leaders Use To Evaluate Success

Within churches, growth is often publicly shared and showcased through testimonies: Acts of miraculous faith, servanthood, irrational generosity, fruitfulness, and transformed lives, of course, are the markers of a person’s walk with Jesus. 

Yet shoptalk between pastors most often reflects a numbers game. Some of the most commonly sought after and tracked  church data includes :

  • Attenders and attendance 
  • Membership rolls
  • Salvations 
  • Salvation follow-ups 
  • Baptisms
  • Tithes and giving 
  • Discipleship
  • Outreach programs
  • Small group numbers
  • Staffing numbers
  • Volunteers 
  • Team members

The list of church metrics goes on, from the rational (number of cars in the parking lot) to the slightly more obscure.

Back in the 80s, the senior pastor who I was serving at the time carefully tracked how many cassette tapes (remember those?) of his message were purchased each week. For him, success was measured through tape sales!

Tools You Can Use To Track Church Data

If these are the church metrics that matter to you, you can find a whole slew of tools and church management software that’ll help you set goals and track your metrics. The advantage of chms software is that it allows you to spend less time managing the data, and more time developing insights so you can make better decisions. 

For many church plants, and church leaders with rapidly changing congregations, understanding what’s happening in your church can be very valuable. With a host of free tools available, including Church Metrics from life.church, you can simply use an iPad and their iOS app (also available as a mobile app on Android) to very quickly get a much richer understanding of what’s happening in your church. 

Below is a list of some other church management software with metrics functionality:

  1. Wild Apricot 
  2. Elvanto 
  3. Breeze 
  4. Chmeetings 
  5. TouchPoint 

But before you go and check out the pricing and functionality for those tools, read on friend. 

Measuring success: a numbers game

There is nothing intrinsically unspiritual with counting numbers. Or should I say, there is neither anything spiritual nor unspiritual about analyzing and evaluating performance in relationship to established goals. The science of statistics is used worldwide to track everything from sports to world pandemics in real time. And now, with the help of social media, measuring popularity and success has soared to a new level. 

Whether you are selling merchandise, raising money through crowdfunding, building a YouTube channel, or preaching the gospel, knowing who you are aiming to reach, whether you have reached them, and their response to your message, is vital. 

You want to reach the world for Christ, right? As a pastor, you probably meet the group you pastor at least once a week. In the past (that is, pre-COVID), people typically gathered at service times. Since last year, many Sunday services are now live-streamed, which has changed everything. 

People who would normally “go to church” can stay home; but now anybody who has access to the internet and a link to your livestream can join in, too! As a pastor you’re wondering:

  • Who are these people?
  • How is the outreach of your service affecting or influencing them? 
  • What decisions and actions are they taking because of it?

Perhaps these are the same questions pastors have always asked; but now, with the help of the internet, your potential to reach people has increased exponentially. 

Sure, we have had television evangelists and Christian programming for some time, but broadcasting has become both affordable and accessible to almost every local church around the world. All of a sudden, there is a real chance for you to make a connection—a touchpoint—with more people than you ever were able to before!

Why Measurement Matters

But back to the numbers game. Putting aside important discussion about KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) we need to measure our performance. 

Of course, fear of criticism (and goodness knows, pastors get enough criticism!) can keep you from inviting any kind of feedback. But without a means of measuring performance there is no credible way of knowing, this side of heaven, if your ministry is effective. 

Mind you, as I have already said, if you have no clear, well-defined goals to begin with then you really won’t have anything to measure. With no results to measure, then the value of doing (programs, services, and events) is justified by the work you do (time, effort, and resources), rather than the results it brings.

For now, assuming that you have some clear goals in place, some form of measurement is not only helpful, but essential. Effective ministry is the result of clearly articulated goals, strategic planning, activation and empowerment, and then honest evaluation. What makes this spiritual is when we prayerfully seek the heart and mind of God for his purposes to be accomplished through our lives, for the sake of His son, Jesus.

The Misuse Of Church Metrics

So whether you are a pastor or other church leader of a church plant or nonprofit, you will benefit from tracking church metrics in real time, and using them to follow up with better decisions, and even optimize stewardship. The challenge with such things, though, is not in the measuring. Rather, it is a problem with ourselves, an issue of identity. 

Related Read: Recognizing Problems That Arise In Church Planting

An issue of mistaken identity

Our sense of self-worth is far more dependent on our performance than most of us are comfortable admitting. The outcome is that we are likely to measure our own personal value by what we do rather than who we are. We feel good about ourselves when we are performing well, and bad when we are not. Even worse, we may be tempted to believe that we are better than others who do not perform as well! 

Consequently, we look for, even crave for, anything that would indicate that we are doing a good job—a better job—the best job!

When our sense of identity is derived from being loved and accepted based on how we’ve performed, then we live not in the love of Christ but in the fear of man. We might be able to meet up to someone else’s standards for awhile, perhaps, but never God’s! 

This is why, before we turn to church metrics to measure our success, we must rest, again, in the reality of the unconditional love of God the Father. God’s love is not based on our performance but on who we are. Leaning too heavily on the numbers will always lead us astray. The trouble is that the indicators the world looks for are not the same as God’s. Numbers may result in misleading conclusions about our ministry efforts, not because the numbers are wrong, but because of the way we interpret them. 

What Metrics Really Matter—And Why

Let’s be honest: According to the world’s measuring stick (particularly in the United States), high-achievers who demonstrate an almost super-human capacity for work are not only rewarded for what they do but are also exalted as models of success. 

Again, there is nothing wrong with working hard, just as there is nothing wrong with measuring the fruit of your hard work.

However, when we apply God’s measuring stick to our lives, we find He is looking for something very different. For Him, what matters most is not the numbers but what’s in our hearts. 

Measuring success with Heaven’s ruler

While we are tempted to simply count fruit, God looks first for its quality! Faithfulness, trust, devotion, sacrifice, servanthood, humility, love—all these characteristics mark us. And though they need to be expressed through action, that is, through what we do (see James 2:20), when they are found in us, as the core of our being in Christ, God is pleased.

So, how do we strike a balance between resting in God’s unconditional love, on the one hand, and the work that He has called us to, on the other? How do we evaluate our performance and that of our team members, spiritually speaking, while at the same time not trusting the count of measurable things to inform and direct us with regard to the things that cannot be counted? 

The balance, I believe, lies between knowing who you are in God’s perfect love in Christ—fully forgiven, fully accepted—and the undeserved calling to serve God on earth so that He might do His heavenly work through you. By faith and in trust, we lay down our work to rest in the confidence of the knowledge that He will accomplish His work through us.

When I was a boy growing up I loved going to the playground. After the swings, my next favourite equipment was the teeter-totter. To play, you need two willing subjects, one at each end: one to “teet” and the other to “tot”. In the middle was a balancing point. If there was equal weight, with equal exertion at both ends, a well-calibrated instrument would stabilize, becoming still and resting in the balance. This theory is sound, but remember: Most children want to go up and down, producing endless motion rather than balancing perfectly at rest! 

Not surprisingly, knowing who we are in God and doing the work He has called us to is more like the back and forth, up and down of children playing on the teeter-totter than a theology of balance:

 What we know and experience in the world in which we live gives constant pushback against who God is and how He works. 

Our challenge is to live in a natural world ruled by natural principles and laws, yet operate instead by the rules and principles of the Kingdom of God. Sometimes these things seem to come into balance and we find harmony in the two realities, but most of the time they just seem to clash. 

The key is not so much finding a balance between what we know in the natural and what is revealed to us in the Spirit, but rather resting in God between the two.

The Art Of Biblical Church Data Interpretation

So where does that leave us? Well, it brings us to a simple conclusion: If you really want to know how you are doing, you might want to think about who you are asking and what your motives are in asking.

Once all the measuring is done and the numbers have been calculated, the results may all be the same, yet the interpretation of those results might lead to different conclusions.

The senior pastor I mentioned who counted the sales of his sermon recordings as an indicator of his success fell into adultery and lost his ministry. He was a great preacher and he did sell a lot of tapes; but this was not enough to keep him from unnecessary failure with a catastrophic outcome. He chose to look at the numbers he wanted to see with total disregard for what God wanted to show him in his heart.

Remember when Samuel went to Bethlehem to anoint a new king to replace Saul who God had rejected? He was asked to anoint one of Jesse’s sons. We know in hindsight that David was the one who was chosen; but if it had been up to Samuel, he would have picked Eliab. 

1 Samuel 16:6 says, “So it was, when they came, that he (Samuel), looked at Eliab and said, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him!'” 

When Samuel measured the man standing in front of him, he concluded that this one would be a good candidate to receive a kingly anointing. But the prophet got it wrong. What might have been a real win for Eliab ended up not to be so, because ultimately God’s measuring stick was used, rather than man’s. “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart'” (1Samuel 6:7).

In the end, Samuel anointed God’s pick: David. That day Samuel, the man, functioned in his calling, fulfilling his prophetic assignment because he acted upon God’s judgement and not his own.

Bottom line? 

How God sees and measures can only be known to those to whom He chooses to reveal such things. And so, when it comes to church metrics, let’s continue to count, measure, record, analyze, and evaluate church data. Sure, choose interactive church management software (ChMS) with the best functionality for your context. 

But don’t forget that what will matter most in your life and ministry is how God measures you and the work you have done in His name.

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What is Church Planting? (And Why it Matters in 2021)

There is no local or global disciple making without church planting. Period. The future of Christianity and of God’s mission rests on this practice.

In this post, we’re going to cover off some the biggest questions about church planting. Keep reading to find out:

What is church planting?

Simply put, church planting is starting a new church from an existing church.

Church planting fulfils the mission of God in every place, space and context in which we find ourselves. Its activity is rooted in Jesus’ instructions in the New Testament Bible.

In Discovering Church Planting, JD Payne reads this out of the Great Commission of Matthew 28. For Payne, church planting “tells us how to make disciples” and “offers a paradigm for reaching villages, tribes urban enclaves and entire cities with the gospel.” He is on-to something important here about scope and why to talk about it.

Church planting process from Missional Church Planting
Church planting process from: https://missionalchurchplanting.org/2013/11/06/cultivating-personal-discipleship/

If the church is understood as the people of God, then where on earth (or beyond) can people (boldly) go that the church cannot go? Where can nations exist without the people who establish its culture, laws and structures?

It follows that where the people are, there can be the church. Where the church is, there is Jesus Christ. If new churches are not reaching the unreached people of the future, then who will? What activity can?

What The Great Commission says about church planting

Church planting, then, is not just one of many different strategies and practices that respond to the Great Commission of Jesus. It is the best strategy and the best practice. Experienced church planters Roger McNamara & Ken Davis make this clear. In The Y-B-H Handbook of Church Planting, they suggest that:

“Church planting best fulfills the directives and goals of the Great Commission because as churches are planted in every nation, disciples are made in that nation just as Christ commanded should be done.”

Roger McNamara & Ken Davis

In the Bible these local, new churches are reproduced out of an existing church from somewhere else. The people of God in one place with one people group establish a community of the people of God in another place and another group.

Why church planting is important

It is that simple—in words. It is much more difficult when the rubber-hits-the-road. The lives of the twelve apostles, new believers, and the Apostle Paul in the Book of Acts reveal the stakes: church planting either costs or very nearly cost them their lives (c.f. Acts 7; 12; 27). 

How the Apostle Paul planted churches

The Apostle Paul’s theology and practice make church planting integral to God’s mission. The Jesus Film Project highlights in their blog how Paul’s missiology of church planting fuelled his missionary journeys. His training and appointing of local leadership in new churches filled with new believers reveals his desire to multiply the global through the local church. This emphasis is picked up by Chris Bowers and Scott Zeller in their blog too.

Dangerous as it might have been, church planting as a practice was not stopped because the future of Christianity was, for Paul, the greater cost. McNamara and Davis say that the Apostle Paul in particular “did many things, but he never neglected” the practice of “planting new churches.” In the end, Paul ran the race and fought the fight of church planting (c.f. 2 Tim 4:7)

This cursory review or preliminary Bible study on the topic strongly suggests that church planting should be at the tip of the missional spear. The Great Commission of Jesus, the Book of Acts, and the theology and practice of the Apostle Paul demand it. 

Why church planting matters in 2021

The activity and priority of planting churches in the Bible is a foundation for all disciples today, because the world still holds a very great many people who do not know or follow Jesus Christ. “Church planting is needed,” says James R. Nikkel, in Church Planting Road Map, “because new communities need to be reached for Christ.” 

This demands some understanding of the past and present of 2020 but much response of the future of 2021 and beyond. Starting with understanding the cultural moment now, Christopher James, in Church Planting in Post-Christian Soil, paints a detailed and methodical picture of the great expanse and rise of secularity in North America in the last 50 years. It seems apparent to James that in Western culture God is more fantasy than fact—believed in by the minority, not the majority of people.

Church planting is relevant

What does surprise about James’ work, however, is his analysis of the minority, Christian church. James says,

“Rather than demoralizing the faithful, the minority status of confessional Christians seems to counterintuitively contribute to the vitality of their religious identity and mission.”

Christopher James

In other words, he believes that the mission of God has never been more relevant. If the mission of God is in a context of vitality, then the same stands for planting churches. Though secularism may be dominant, James believes paradoxically it has “proved to be a rather fertile environment for fervent Christianity.” People are ready. The time for planting is now.

Church planting demands a response

But this comes down to how the church responds. The people of God today, like those of yesterday, need to establish communities of the people of God for tomorrow.

Planting churches, therefore, matters in 2021 not only because there will still be a majority of people who do not know Jesus. It matters because there will also be robust minority of Christians who can assess their role and calling in the outworking of the mission of God. 

This means that anyone, whether a follower of Jesus or not, should think in some way about how church planting impacts their personal and corporate future. Below or some areas for you to consider in this process of discernment.

5 church plants to look out for in 2021

Whether you live in the Vancouver B.C. area or not, this unique season of church online means that you can look out for a handful of new church plants that I can recommend from in my context in 2021.

  1. Tidal Church: located in North Vancouver, B.C. Tidal Church is led by John and Kate Payne, who are experienced church planters from the UK. This church emphasizes the gifts of the Holy Spirit, small groups and the word of God. While the soft launch with their core team is happening in 2020, they are looking to ramp up their gathering and online presence in 2021. Read about John and Kate here.
  2. The Way Church: located in Vancouver, B.C., The Way Church is led by Rachael and Jason Ballard, the latter of whom is a mainstay in the Youth Alpha Video Series, now showcased online. Jason’s leadership and experience with the Alpha is exceptionally relevant to this moment where digital and video is the predominant medium through which church members are reached, and the values of the Kingdom of God are on display to the world beyond Vancouver. Learn about The Way Church here.
  3. City Life Church: also located in Vancouver, B.C., City Life Church is led by Todd and Stephanie Lueck. It was recently planted by its mother church City Life Chilliwack, who believe that the mission field is not only global, but local in the city centres. Find out more about City Life Church here.
  4. C3 Manhattan: Planted out of the mega- influential mega-church of Redeemer Presbyterian Church (which has been led by Tim Keller) this C3 church is a great blend of young vibrancy and traditional orthodoxy. If you’re not based in New York City, no problem. Their online services are eclectic and Christ focused. Plus there are many different C3 church across North America, Europe and beyond. Check out C3 Manhattan here.
  5. Christ Church SF: Located in the heart of San Francisco, Christ Church SF was planted through the Acts 29 network, a church planting group led by Matt Chandler. Christ Church SF embraces the Father’s heart to see places of influence, like the city centre of SF, transformed for the glory of Jesus. Learn more about this church here.

Why should you join a church plant

If you are excited about Christian missions and you want to discover your life’s passion, then you should join a church plant in 2021. It is those who join-in and plant churches that are also the ones who establish the short- and long-term future of Christianity.

“We discovered that churches that have a DNA of reproduction are among the most effective churches at reaching the lost and unchurched across America.” 

Thom Rainer

Here, in the book Church Planting from the Ground Up, Rainer and other church planters suggest that there is no better context for fulfilling your passion in Jesus in reaching the world than in a church plant.

The passion of evangelism and multiplication naturally spills out of one new church plant and into another. It is like wild fire. David Garrison speaks as such in, Church Planting Movements. Whereas “church planters may start the first churches” he goes on to say that other “churches themselves get into the act” and the birth of a movement occurs. Local churches in these areas go the extra mile, not giving up on discipleship, spiritual development or worship.

Being part of a movement is special. For church planters and bloggers, like Steve Sjogren, it creates a momentum that should cause us to “rejoice, if you have it. The calling and passion is worth it!

Why church planting isn’t for everyone

Whereas church planting is a missional practice that every Christian should deeply consider, joining church plants as a church leader or committed member is not for everyone, and some new church plants can emphasize unhealthy long-term behaviour.

First, you should probably avoid a church plant if it is too focused on the numbers, that is, the quantity of members or attendees. John Jackson, in High Impact Church Planting, speaks plainly about the unique position church plants are in the missional lifecycle. He believes, “New churches must reach new people or they die!” If this is true, then new church plants might be tempted to over-emphasize the importance of numbers.

In an environment where numbers become the focus of growth, other elements of church planting, like spiritual and emotional growth, can be put to the wayside. Sadly, church leaders, like Karl Vaters, have gone through this experience. What you can do, however, is learn from his experience!

Related Read: What Every Lead Pastor Needs To Know About Church Metrics.

Further reading

If you found this interesting, check out this post Church Planting Advice from Hillsong’s Brian Houston. And if you’re starting a church, check out our list of the best church management software.

What do you think?

Are you interested in church planting? Been a part of a church plant? What was your experience? Have you discovered any church plants that we haven’t mentioned? Are you aware of problems in church planting?

Let us know in the comments below.

If you’ve ever wondered how the big churches do it, here’s a peek into their world: 10 Biggest Streaming Churches And The Software They Use

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Church Planting Advice: 10 Tips From Hillsong’s Brian Houston

If you’re a church planter, or a lead pastor starting a new church plant and looking for church planting advice, make sure you check out these ten tips from Pastor Brian Houston, from Hillsong. He’s the pastor of Hillsong, a network of established churches across the world, with stacks of experience of the challenges facing lead pastors and Christians when starting a new church. 

Even if you’re a Senior Pastor, or church leader of an established church you’ll find this post contains some thought provoking principles for expanding and growing your church.

In summary – here’s what this article on church planting advice covers:

  1. You must recognize your grace zone
  2. Cherish the baby steps of the new church plant 
  3. Determine to be ethical and true to yourself
  4. Expand from a position of strength
  5. Be sure you have counted the cost
  6. Pray for the right people, in the right place, at the right time
  7. Not just easy places or nice places, but right places
  8. Avoid the perils of shortcuts, or individuals who promise the world
  9. Value connection and relationships
  10. Church planting can be part of the answer or part of the problem

It was in 1999 when Bobbie and I were given the opportunity to do something — which for us at that time was a bold and innovative step. We were asked to take on the leadership of my parents’ inner-city church in ADDITION to the church we were already pastoring in the Northwest of Sydney — Hillsong Church.

Bold and innovative because although today in 2013 there are countless models of incredible multi-site churches, back in 1999 it was totally new territory in which we knew of few, if any, role models to look to for guidance.

Fourteen years on, our City Campus is an established church, a thriving and integral part of Hillsong Church and along the way we have learned a great deal about multi-site expansion and global evangelism and  church planting; as Hillsong has spread to some of the worlds most influential cities. I am not called to plant churches everywhere, but where we do, my hope and prayer is that we can build significant churches whose impact for the Cause of Jesus Christ spreads far beyond their own walls. When we started Hillsong London many years ago, impact and influence seemed like a far away fantasy –and yet that is exactly what has and is unfolding through a healthy local church congregation in that city.

I’m no expert, but I have been asked many times what are some of the keys to successful expansion, and so here are ten principles for church planting that I have learned on our own journey:

Church planting advice for church leaders

1. You must recognize your grace zone

Church planting is a GRACE and if you stay “within the sphere of the grace God has given you,” His holy spirit, favor and blessing will be on your endeavors. Not every opportunity is a GOD opportunity and I find that people struggle when they don’t recognize this. It is important to stay in your lane and run your own race.

2. Cherish the baby steps of the new church plant

Christian church planting is PIONEERING and that means you have to recognize the old adage that “you can’t run be before you can walk”. The first time I was at one of our ‘Heart and Soul’ nights at Hillsong New York City, the worship team had a mid-song train crash. Perhaps I made them nervous, as apparently it had never happened before, but we had to start the song all over again. That is just one of the examples from some of the great memories that just two years on, we can all look back on and laugh about. 

Since then, the worship team in New York City has taken giant strides forward and even in those early days the services were electric. But just like when your baby starts to walk, those ‘crashes’ are the precious memories in pioneering that we should always cherish, learn from and laugh about.

Even when Hillsong churches have started with great crowds (such as in Cape Town and New York City), it has taken time for leadership to emerge — to find out who really is ‘in it for the long haul’ and for the crowd to become a family who carry the heart and vision of our church.

Need help getting your worship team on the same page? Check this article out: How To Create Worship Team Guidelines (with Examples & Template)

3. Determine to be ethical and true to yourself

Church planting must be INTEGROUS and though we might all have varying ethics and values, it is important to be true to God, true to ourselves and considerate of others in our approach to church planting. It really is a case of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

For example, when expanding Hillsong Church Australia into Brisbane and Melbourne, we have been very deliberate in our early communications and gatherings, to encourage those from other congregations to stay in their own local church. We gave people opportunity to register their interest in being part of our church online and we have limited our communications to that group of people. The foundations on which we start our churches are critical if we intend to establish healthy and life-giving campuses long-term.

4. Expand from a position of strength

Church planting is CHALLENGING, in fact sometimes starting something new is the easy part. Building and progress depends on momentum. Planting or expanding is an exciting idea, but don’t underestimate the challenge of planting well AND keeping home strong. The extra pressure on your greatest resource can be underestimated and your greatest resource is not facilities or finances — it’s PEOPLE.

Starting another service, opening another campus, or planting another church will test the quantity and quality of your leadership in most areas of church life. Don’t weaken your home base by expanding too quickly. Because weakening your base is not a momentum builder — it’s a momentum stopper. Lost momentum is very difficult to regain and wise church planting is not done prematurely.

5. Be sure you have counted the cost

Church planting is COSTLY and can be very difficult if you are unable to invest sacrificially into the work you are starting. Faith is essential in any new venture and there is no doubt that dependence on God and His miraculous supply is part of the adventure. However, many years of pain and heartache can be avoided if you have counted the cost and sacrificially invested into the new ground you are claiming.

6. Pray for the right people, in the right place, at the right time

Church planting involves LEADERSHIP and it will be more successful when you sow some of your best people into your launch team core group. If you are solving a problem by repositioning someone who is causing frustration, you are only transferring the problem. It is when you give your best that you can expect the best outcome — which is again why planting or expanding should be done from a position of strength and not vulnerability.

7. Not just easy places or nice places, but right places

Church planting is STRATEGIC and for Hillsong that has rarely meant going to the ‘easy’ places. We have prospered by planting in Europe — a continent steeped in church history yet in many respects, so Godless.

When I first spoke at Hillsong Paris, I remembered numbers of conversations where people simply couldn’t get their heads around us preaching about Jesus as someone other than just a historical figure. Today, I love seeing so many young churches beginning to flourish in various European cities. Its easy to think that perhaps ‘Bible belt cities’ would be easier than the heart of Manhattan; but with the right people, in the right place, at the right time, it’s amazing what God can do!

Likewise, when my parents started their ministry in the city of Sydney, it was regarded by some people as a ‘preachers graveyard.’ But that ‘preachers graveyard’ has become home to Hillsong Church — Hillsong College -Conferences and Music; influencing more people than we could have ever have imagined over the last three decades. God is faithful and I believe that the best is still yet to come!

8. Avoid the perils of shortcuts, or individuals who promise the world

Church planting is TEAMWORK, which means building a leadership team and core group who are there for the long haul. My experience is that often the people who promise the most, don’t always come through with the most. Great churches are built with a core group of people who are faithful in the little things. I’d take a group of ordinary people devoted to an extraordinary God, over a charismatic someone that talks a big game, but hasn’t proven faithful in the ‘day of small beginnings’.

We have had some amazing miracles with land and buildings in our history, but we have also said no to numbers of opportunities and partnerships because there were ‘strings attached’. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is!

Related Read: 10 Best Church Leadership Conferences In 2021

9. Value connection and relationships

Church planting is LONELY, and many a church planter has perished through isolation.

Proverbs 18:1 says, “The man who isolates himself is not wise” and if you disregard your friendships and relationships when planting churches, your world can get small very quickly. Perhaps you can start churches anywhere, but wisdom is sensitive to relationships — while still refusing to be ruled by the insecurities of others.

Our mandate is “to champion the cause of local churches everywhere”, and the greatest way we can do that is exemplifying what God can do, by partnering and being in good relationship with other churches in our city, and without building on other people’s foundations.

10. Church planting can be part of the answer or part of the problem

Church planting is TRENDY and in the twenty first century, technology and opportunity enable us to expand in ways that were unthinkable to generations past. Does the world need more churches? The short answer is yes, but the world doesn’t need more mediocre churches. The world needs healthy and vibrant churches that are genuinely fulfilling the Great Commission in their cities, towns, villages and nations. Churches that are filled with life, worship, biblical teaching and healthy, accepting community — churches that point people to JESUS. Evangelism, and discipleship matters as we fulfill the Great Comission.

I pray that together, we can ‘champion the cause of local churches everywhere,’ and stay committed to the building of what Jesus Christ said He would build — His Church!

This post was originally posted on Medium: https://medium.com/the-mission/10-principles-of-planting-and-expanding-through-the-lens-of-a-pastor-66edd39e8f03

What do you think?

What church planting advice do you have? What’s worked for you, and what hasn’t? Are you aware of the problems that arise when church planting?

Is your church growing and you feel the need to start gathering data to measure your levels of success? This article is a good place to start: What Every Lead Pastor Needs To Know About Church Metrics.

Let us know if the comments below, and come and join our Lead Pastor Community to lead, and help others lead better.