My Church Planting Model Is Better Than Yours

HarvestNot really. Or at least I’m not sure. Church planting is a hot topic right now in western Christianity, and it needs to be with the spiritual condition of North America and western Europe. And when anything is a hot topic, it creates tension.

Tension can be good.

Out of tension flows a creative discussion and differences of opinion that force us to re-evaluate our viewpoints and emphases to ensure that we’re thinking biblically and effectively.

Right now, the tension in church planting discussion surrounds models. Should we launch large and fast? Should we take our time and build a strong core group? Should we start having church to make disciples? Should we make disciples and allow a church to form out of the discipleship? Should we be attractional? Missional? Uni-laterally bi-directionally intentional? And so we have megachurches, house churches, traditional churches, organic churches, plus a lot of dead and dying churches (unfortunately).

As we plant Grace Hills Church, here are three words that stay at the forefront of my mind, as well as the biblical phrases that these words reflect.

We Need to be Attractional (The “Come and See” of the Gospel)

The attractional approach gets a bad wrap for a couple of reasons. First, some churches know how to attract people to a production, but have no depth past Sunday morning. Second, we sometimes think the sound, the lights, and the technology are the attractive part.


We need to be attractional by living distinctively redeemed lives, keeping our integrity and trust with the surrounding world, leading people in genuine God-directed worship, serving in tangible and visible ways, and teaching a life-changing, absolute truth from the Word that acts like a sword, piercing to the depths of the human heart.

We Need to be Transformational (The “Come and Die” of the Gospel)

Jesus invited four fisherman to follow him one day. By the end of the gospels, they are ready to die for Him. In fact, three of them do indeed become martyrs for the faith and John suffered nearly to the point of death for the gospel. That is transformation. That is life-change. And that needs to be celebrated from the very birth of a new church.

We Need to be Missional (The “Go and Tell” of the Gospel)

God’s intention was never for us to isolate ourselves from the world or to imitate our surrounding culture. Rather He wants us to infiltrate the culture around us and demonstrate His love to the least, the lost, and the last of humanity so that the nations of the world can be brought into the enjoyment of the glory of God.

If attraction is all about gathering a church, then mission is more about scattering the church into the community, and into every possible mission field on the planet.

Perhaps we should stop arguing over models. We have plenty to learn from people who are successfully bringing new people to Jesus through this church planting movement, but ultimately, I think what we see in how Jesus trained the twelve and then how the twelve turned the world upside down one community at a time is probably a great place to start.

Photo by Jason Ewert

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About the Author

I'm Brandon. I'm the Lead Pastor of Grace Hills Church in Northwest Arkansas, which my wife, Angie, and I planted in January of 2012. I previously served as a Pastor at Saddleback Church and still manage Pastor Rick Warren's online, global ministry to pastors, I also lead a blog about blogging, a blog about social media, and a blog about men's issues. And I've written a book - Rewired, which challenges the church to adopt social media to spread the good news about Jesus. I sometimes take on church website design projects and I coach pastors and leaders as well. I'd love to hear from you!
8 Responses
  1. Rgbowman

    I have seen warnings from several different sources we are about to begin a much deeper recession, eventually a depression, in the next few months that will impact every person in our nation. Will our churches survive without adapting to the challenges? What happens when families drop out with no money or home to live in? Will the churches understand the new testament church gave to help their own as an act of mutual survival? How about doubling up families in houses? How about the elderly when social security crashes? Learn how to grow more of your own food? Teaching survival techniques to church members? Start bartering, lending tools, sharing skills, hit the alter on your knees? Even now, churches are going broke, ministries are being stopped. Is the prosperity message valid? It will be survival of the fittest for churches, and when the real ones are left, will a revival will begin? One more, and it is a big one, what about social turmoil of the lost? We need to pray!

    1. All that you have said may or may not come to pass. To assume it won’t would be presumptuous. But… Paul said plainly that “we are not as others who have no hope.” Yes, we can adapt. Yes, the prosperity gospel message really stinks and does harm to the faith in hard times. But yes, we serve a risen Savior who is in the world today.

      Be prepared, but be hopeful.

  2. Tiltawhirl Rev

    I am in the process of asking the Lord’s guidance in planting a church in my area. Can you point me towards any resources that you mentioned in “The Role of Preaching in Church Planting”?

  3. Mark

    I love the way you articulate “Attractional-Transformational-Missional” aspects of church. I’ve heard plenty of attraction and mission but much less about transformation. All the best to you and your ministry!

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