Stages in replanting a church

By Bob Bickford

Church Planting is like construction. Church Replanting is more like farming. That image may carry some baggage for driven, entrepreneurial A-type personalities. Farming is hard, slow, long, dirty, and wearisome work and the results are greatly dependent upon a force that is absolutely out of your control—the weather.

You labor away, plowing the fields, sowing the seeds and watering the rows you planted. And then you wait…..for the growth.One of the keystone verses for me as a Replanter has been Paul’s description of his role and work in the church.

“What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.” 1 Corinthians 3:5-9

Paul recognizes that he plays a part in the work of the Gospel bearing fruit. He plants, Apollos waters. God is the one who makes it grow.

I’ve found that in a church replant there are four stages:

Plowing—the work of God in preparing the ground through the preaching of the Gospel with the power and conviction of the Holy Spirit.

Planting–the work of the Pastor and Leaders to sow the Gospel deeply into the softened ground of the Church body.

Watering–the continual teaching and application of truth from God’s word that gives much needed refreshment so the seed can grow.

Growing–the fully developed seed of the Gospel springs up and is evident in the life of those inside the church. It’s marked by changed thinking and living and is evidence of God’s work in the lives of the people—spiritual growth.

Replanting begins with God’s work (Plowing) involves faithfulness on our part (Planting and Watering) and culminates in God’s work (Growth) What are your thoughts? Do you agree? Have a different take? Stay tuned—we’ll take a look at each individual stage in the next few posts.


Published November 30, 2021

P.S. Get our best content in your inbox

We send one email per month full of articles from a variety of Replanting voices.

Bob Bickford

Bob Bickford is a Replant Pastor in suburban St. Louis, serves as the Associate Director of Replant for the North American Mission Board and is the co-author of Am I a Replanter,  Pathways to Partnership and the Associational Replanting Guide. Follow Bob on twitter @bobick