4 phases of church planting team development

By Mac Lake

Church planting is a process. Just as it takes nine months for a baby to grow and develop in the mother’s womb, it takes time for a new church plant to develop its systems, structures and DNA. I recommend you first decide when you would like to start having public worship services. Then work at least nine months back from that date and plan the specifics of how you will disciple and develop your team.

When we moved to plant a church in Myrtle Beach, our small team immediately began to engage in the community. We started attending high school football, basketball and baseball games. We built relationships with school administrators in the three local schools. We started volunteering in the community. We knew it would take time to get to know the people of the community, understand them and become a part of that community. At the same time, we laid out four phases we knew we would have to go through in order for the church to develop in a healthy manner.

1. Vision development phase

The vision development phase is the best place to start. Gather together to pray, discuss and define the vision for the church plant.

2. Strategy phase

The strategy phase is where you discuss how to turn the vision into reality. Plan out the logistical details, and draw out a detailed picture of the key ministries of the church. We studied the community and tried to understand the spiritual, emotional, physical and social needs.

3. Team development phase

In this stage, we took seven weeks to walk our team through a biblical definition of church. Through this study, we discovered God’s intent for the church, the purpose of church planting and how God had uniquely designed each of us for kingdom impact.

4. Expansion phase

The expansion phase is where we challenged our team, which had grown to about 40 adults, to reach out to their unchurched friends, engage them in a deeper relationship and invite them to join our gathering.

Through these phases, we saw God draw people who were called to church planting join our team. We saw unbelievers come to faith and get excited about being a part of taking the Gospel to others. And we saw God build the systems and structure needed to start a new healthy church.

Published January 12, 2017

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Mac Lake

Mac Lake is a pioneering influence in the church planting movement. In 1997, he planted Carolina Forest Community Church in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. In 2004, he began serving as Leadership Development Pastor at Seacoast Church in Charleston, South Carolina, where he served for more than six years. In July 2010, Mac Lake joined West Ridge Church to become the Visionary Architect for the LAUNCH Network. He then became the leader of the Send Network Training Team. In 2018, he joined Auxano as Lead Navigator, specializing in helping churches and ministries develop their leadership pipelines. Mac and his wife, Cindy, live in Charleston. Follow him on YouTube at Developing Leaders with Mac Lake.