After the disciples received the Great Commission before Jesus’ ascension, they began to preach the gospel, first in Jerusalem and eventually expanding into other cultures. The book of Acts details early efforts to obey Jesus’ command. The letters of the New Testament give us an inside view of the establishment of Christianity in new territory. It may seem obvious to us now, but we should continue to contemplate the fact that everywhere Christians have gone to share the gospel churches were formed.
Church planting should not end with the establishment of one church. The process can repeat itself when a new church matures to the point of becoming a sponsoring church. The kingdom is best advanced through multiplication and not just addition. Reproduction is in the biblical DNA of churches.
Reproduction is in the biblical DNA of churches
Percentage of Churches that Reproduce
In Viral Churches, Ed Stetzer and Warren Bird shared research from an interview of senior pastors in various denominations in the United States. In that research project, they discovered that 28% of those they surveyed indicated that they had directly participated in helping a new church. While that number may sound good, upon further investigation, they discovered that only 12% of that 28% were actually churches that acted as a mother church or accepted direct financial responsibility for a new church as a primary sponsor.
Compare that to the most recent research report on church planting that we at NewChurches.com and LifeWay Research conducted on 17 different denominational and church planting network organizations. In this State of Church Planting in the U.S. report, we discovered that 22% of churches—that started in 2012 or earlier—started at least one daughter church within their first five years of existence. Although we wish that number were higher, amongst those we surveyed, we are in fact seeing a higher percentage of new churches reproduce today, than they did during the Viral Churches study close to 10 years ago. You can read the results of this research and download a specific book on our multiplication research for free at NewChurches.com.
Many readers of this article will become church planters who will work hard at planting and growing their first church from inception to maturity. Then God will nudge them to plant another, and they may think: It’s taking everything in me to make this church plant work. I don’t see how we can help start another church. But a daughter church is the best way to expand your zeal for church planting and to put into practice what you’ve learned from planting the mother church. Churches of all sizes and ages can take part in church planting.
Churches of all sizes and ages can take part in church planting
Church of the Highlands and Pillar Church
Church planters who lead their churches to plant new works usually sense a call to reach their city and beyond, not just plant a church. For example, Chris Hodges, pastor of Church of the Highlands, Birmingham, Alabama, believed he was called to a city. Chris’ family moved from Baton Rouge to Birmingham with the goal of planting a church focused on “the simplicity of the gospel and the power of an intimate relationship with a loving God.” The church’s first gathering was held in 2001 and has since grown to one of the largest churches in the country. But Chris and his team didn’t kick back and consider their work done. They almost immediately started planning to plant more churches, and they’ve started many more.
Pillar Church has the same vision, but their focus is not just to reach their city; it’s to reach and plant a church in every US Marine Corps (USMC) base in the world. When Clint Clifton planted Pillar in 2005, he planted in Quantico, Virginia, which is the crossroads and hub of the USMC. As a result this church has always had a burden to minister to both active and retired marines and their families. This love for the marines, coupled with a passion for church planting, is what led to their current vision to train marines to plant churches when they get reassigned to another USMC base. They are calling this the Praetorian Project. They’ve planted six churches so far with future plans to focus first on four of the major USMC base regions and then eventually on every USMC location across the world.
Church planters need to be the best advocates and sponsors of next-generation churches. If you don’t have in your mind and heart the plan and desire to start another church early on, by the fifth year of your church plant’s existence, then you have already forgotten how important church planting is to the kingdom of God.
Learn more about multiplication and church planting in Planting Missional Churches: Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply. This is a modified excerpt from the book. Learn more about this book and start reading the first three chapters, as well as download 30+ exclusive resources here, NewChurches.com/PMC.
 Denominations and networks which participated in the survey include: Assemblies of God, Baptist Missionary Association of America, Christian and Missionary Alliance, Church of the Nazarene, Converge, Evangelical Free Church of America, Free Methodists, International Pentecostal Holiness Church, Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, Missionary Church, New Thing Network, Presbyterian Church of America, Project Jerusalem, Southern Baptists, United Methodist Church, Vineyard Church of America and The Wesleyan Church.