Church Planting Models

The topic of church planting models has always interested me, since first becoming aware of the topic several years ago during undergrad. There are several models that get a lot of attention among church planters, some of the more prominent ones are discussed here.

Sending-sent” – aka “Mother-daughter” model. This approach generally involves a larger, more established church sending a group of people off to start a new church in a different place. The “Sending/Sent” terminology is preferred to the “Mother/Daughter” language because we believe in the autonomy of the local church. The latter terminology tends to reflect a different authority structure, where the “Mother” church has more authority than does the “daughter” church. It is for this reason that the expression “Sending church” and “sent church” are preferred, because it doesn’t infer a hierarchy of authority between self-governing churches. One of the specific strengths of this model is that when the “sent church” arrives at its destination and begins to assemble regularly for worship, fellowship, and the ordinances, it arrives as a “full-scale church.” I’ve known of teams as large as fifty moving together from various places in the country to one centralized location to plant a church. One of the greatest benefits of this is that when they show up, they’ve got a church. There are thousands of churches throughout the country that are made up of less than fifty people, and are every bit as legitimate as their larger counterparts. This approach provides enough stable, working-class families to financially provide for a full time lead pastor and his family, which is vital for the long-term staying ability of the pastor.

Team” approach – This method is similar to the first in its group strategy, yet it is more-so built on the strategy of having a leadership team and doesn’t necessarily involve including a group of church members also starting out with the church. While the first approach often has several dozen people on day one, this team approach often involves two, three, or four aspiring church planters going in together to see a new church established. This approach has the strengths of fellowship and encouragement through what essentially amounts to a plurality of elders in its ecclesiology, and sharing the load among the various men that are leading the charge. This approach is more difficult than the first because it doesn’t inherently involve a congregation moving with you to start with an established church with Biblically and theologically mature believers.

Bi-vocational” or “tent making” church planting – The name for this method is more focused on its financial support than its ecclesiology. Rather than spending years traveling around and visiting a bunch of churches, those who use this approach have a much shorter gestation period from their commissioning to arrival at their destination. This time factor is the great and obvious benefit of this approach. Looking from a human perspective, those three years that are generally required to travel the country on deputation could be spent preaching the gospel and making disciples – In other words, people are dying and going to hell while you’re trying to convince people to buy into your calling. The bi-vocational approach requires much less time from takeoff to landing. In defense of the deputation model I’ve heard several church planters say “we needed that time of growth and bonding as a family before going to the field” – and I wouldn’t necessarily disagree, however God could easily have used those three years to grow the church planter just as effectively through the struggle that is a job search, looking for an apartment, moving, working a job and building friendships and contacts, and reaching out to your neighbor and the man at the bagel shop. God can use whatever means he wants to use to grow His children. I fully believe the Biblical doctrine of sovereignty and election, yet from a human perspective, I see enormous value in getting to the target field sooner than later because “good news is only good news if it gets there in time.” The apostle Paul practiced this model at various times during his ministry and this is where the name “tent making” comes from. The obvious drawback to this approach is that it requires the church planter spend large amounts of time and energy on tasks other than the “ministry of the word and prayer” (Acts 6).

Pioneer church planting – Often in this approach a pastor and his family will move to a place where there is no gospel witness, and they will go alone, without the benefit of a ministry team or group of established believers moving with them. This method is almost certainly the hardest because the very act of going to an unreached place means that no one has cut a trail before you.

There are certainly many other approaches that can be found through a quick Google search, but I chose these because of their proximity to our ministry. We are not a pioneer church plant, but rather are a “re-plant” or revitalization of existing ministries. This information has been well documented in previous blog posts and videos on our website and our page At this stage, our ministry is a combination of two existing ministries which both date back to the 1800’s. The New York Mission to the Jews dates back to the 1890’s and the Manor Community Church has roots to its founding in 1855. As it relates to church planting, our strategy today is a combination of the other models explained above. We are sent and called. Each of the three heads of households that are a part of the leadership team have home churches or sending churches, and each were called by the ministry in NYC to come and be a part of the work that God is doing. As I mentioned, this is also a “Team” approach. There are many benefits, but I believe one of the greatest is that nothing rises and falls on one person. If any of the three of us dropped dead tomorrow, the work would go on because the structure is not set up such that only one person does the preaching, or drives the van, or organizes and communicates with supporting churches. It’s also a church planting approach that is at least somewhat bi-vocationally supported. I receive 25% of my support through investments that are tied to jobs I’ve worked since I was a kid and my goal is to see that percentage increase through strategic and secure investments. There have also been opportunities for the more construction-oriented staff members to subsidize their income through occasional side jobs doing carpentry and other projects for people around town.

With all of that being said, we urgently need to find additional supporting churches and individuals, to enable Galen and me to be in this ministry long-term and be able to provide for families. If you are interested in learning more about the ministry here in NYC or looking for ways to support, click here