How to plant a church - in 5 steps

(this post also available as a downloadable PDF)

There are many guides out there for how to plant missional churches, but all of them seemed too complicated, philosophical, impractical, or just plain misguided. I've attempted the following things in my own ministry with varying degrees of success. What I've compiled here is a list from what I've learned (by experience and trial and error) from my own work and what I've learned in watching other's fail or succeed.

Many systems list 10 things as essential. Or 30 things. I actually firmly believe there is only one thing essential for a successful church planting movement. Prayer. Obviously planting a church is not easy. If it were many more would be successful. But it IS simple. Love the one who created you. Follow him.

If you are regularly humbly praying then you will be tuned in to God's will. You will be walking closely with the Lord. And it will be difficult to not catch His vision and follow His direction for what you're doing.

Therefore prayer is essential throughout this. First and foremost - everything listed here must be sprinkled, covered, drowned in prayer.

Some people argue prayer is first, education second, and leaders third. I would argue prayer is first, second, and third.

Prerequisites:
Love God and seek His glory first
You need to have authority in your life *1
Have a friend who will punch you in the face when it becomes about you.
Step 1 - Get Started - Pray for it
1 - Invite a crowd of 4-5 to a restaurant and start meeting weekly.
The place is unimportant
The length/type of the sermon is unimportant
The education of the preacher is unimportant *2
2 - Cast vision for church growth.
Via multiplication (not addition).
Cast a vision for evangelism
If we really believe Jesus is the BEST thing in our lives we will talk about it.
3 - It has to be about loving the Lord
Not building your own name, becoming a famous church planter etc...
Therefore
4 - Pray that it would be about the Lord
5 - Pray for converts, growth, and wisdom in your methodology.
Get your members praying with you.
Get your members praying FOR you. You need all the prayer you can get.
Step 2 - Evangelism - Pray for it
1 - Can happen before people attend the church, but non-Christians can come too if they're willing.
2 - Understand sharing as necessary
For non-Christians to have any hope in this life
For the church to grow
3 - Learn how to share your faith
Via practicing - Share regularly
Attend trainings
Read books etc...
4 - Do evangelism - Regularly
5 - Teach others to share
Pass on what you've learned
Put on your own trainings
Bring people along with you
Pass on books that were helpful to you

Step 3 - Raise up Leaders - Pray for them
(it's not about you, it's about the Kingdom)
1 - Call people to what they're called to do and enable them to succeed at it.
People are called to something
Help people understand their calling
Enabling them to do what they're called to do may mean releasing them to leave your ministry and do something else
2 - Entrust to faithful men (2 Tim 2:2)
People become responsible when given responsibility
Call people to step up in maturity
Leaders are defined in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus
Not by how much education they have
3 - Provide training (ongoing)
Leadership training
Theological development
If you cant provide this send them to someone who can
It does not have to be full time
4 - Shepherd your flock of leaders
So they can shepherd their flocks

Step 4 - Prayer - Pray that you'll know how to faithfully do it
1 - Organize prayer meetings outside of regular church time
2 - Give away leadership of prayer meetings
To those who can train others
And then give it away to others
3 - Pray yourself
Ask God for wisdom and direction
He will give it to you
Ask God that you would do His will not your own
You will be tempted to the opposite
4 - Pray with your leadership
Teach them to pray
Model prayer for them

Step 5 - Send people out - Pray for wisdom, patience, and direction in doing this
1 - Hand steps 1-5 to a member in your group
They will not be as ready as you
Hand things off before people are ready
Otherwise they will NEVER be ready
2 - It should make you uncomfortable
Because it includes people. And people are messy
Because God's Kingdom is bigger than your idea of it
This means gifted men and women may have different theology and methodology than you
3 - Make mistakes
If it's not messy then you're moving too slow
Better to plant 10 churches and 1 heresy than no churches
You pray against this but you cant control everything
*1 - This person should know the answer to the question, "What sin/s is most likely to disqualify you from ministry?" And included on your list of answers to this question should be "Pride"

*2 - The patterns you set will affect the DNA for the future of the church. If prayer is not an essential part at the start (and it should be) then it will be difficult or impossible to add in later. If you meet in an expensive building to start then others, when they are released, will think they need an expensive building before they can plant. If you meet in a house and preach 20 minute sermons then you're creating something reproducible. Think strategically.

This guide is clearly not infallible, therefore - pray.