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Plant the Church—Better

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Nine leaders in the American church planting movement on what we’re doing right and what we must do better

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Church planting is such a dynamic enterprise that Outreach magazine wanted to find out just where some church planting leaders think we are in this effort. Through email and phone conversations, we put together a virtual roundtable featuring nine prominent voices in church planting today:

What encourages you about church planting in America today?

Greg Surratt: When we planted Seacoast Church 25 years ago, it was as if we were swimming upstream. Many of my friends thought we were a bit crazy to consider planting a new church rather than assuming a pastorate in an existing church. Obviously both are great options, but I think the pendulum has shifted toward the planting of new churches.
Greg Surratt is senior pastor, Seacoast Church, Mount Pleasant, S.C., and president, Association of Related Churches.

Ed Stetzer: When I planted my first church in 1988, there was this sense of “Why are you doing that? Could you not get a real job?” Now we actually have to encourage people to pastor established churches sometimes because they’re so passionate about church planting.
Ed Stetzer is president of LifeWay Research.

What is the catalyst for that passion?

Brent Storms: In our experience, some of the brightest young leaders today are drawn to the pioneering aspect of church planting. They are using solid theological training and previous ministry experience on staff at healthy churches to inform the culturally appropriate expressions of the Gospel in their church planting setting.
Brent Storms is president and CEO of Orchard Group.

Dave Ferguson: Many new churches are now starting with a leadership resident (church planter in training) from the first day. These leaders are also thinking in terms of, “How do I start not just a church, but a network of churches or a movement of churches?”
Dave Ferguson is lead pastor, Community Christian Church, Chicago, and movement leader, NewThing.

Are we truly experiencing a movement in church planting?

Matt Chandler: It feels like there’s a real movement—networks are popping up everywhere. I couldn’t name those networks a few years ago.
Matt Chandler is lead pastor, The Village Church in Dallas and president of Acts 29

Geoff Surratt: Church planting doesn’t have to be the loneliest job on the planet anymore. There are multiple church planting networks, coaches and resources available for church planters regardless of the planter’s tribe.
Geoff Surratt is director, Exponential.

Dave Ferguson: We are now seeing more new churches started than existing churches close in the United States. The net gain of new churches through church planting gives me great hope for the church in the U.S.

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