Choosing a Church Planting Site

How do you determine where to plant a church? Sometimes there are circumstances which dictate where you go as the Lord leads. In 1982 when I finished seminary there was an opportunity in Philadelphia to start a church with a handful of believers who really wanted a church or at least said they did. Many from the original group didn't stay long. They wanted something but weren't sure what they wanted. At the time, as a recent know-it-all seminary graduate, I probably did my share in driving some people away who might've stayed if I had been wiser and less autocratic, if I had listened more and spoken less, if I didn't have to be right all the time.


In returning to Philadelphia last year after a twenty-three year absence it was not that clear where to plant a church. Although my brother and I are from Philly the city had changed over the years and we did not know much about West Philly. We did not have a group of people looking for someone to help them start a church. We did not have a place to meet. We did some surveys and talked to church planters already in the city. We did not want to start a new church on top of another church. We discovered that there were two fairly recent church plants in the area of West Philadelphia that we had been scouting out. One is a PCA plant. The other is a Vineyard plant. Before we made a final decision concerning the area we met with both pastors, attended their churches, and listened to them to get a better feel for the city. Through those discussions we had a better idea for where to begin.


We had a lot to learn about the city and still do. Before you decide on an area, walk the neighborhoods, make sure your wife has a good sense of where you plan to live, speak to others who have been there and pray for the Lord's direction before you pull the trigger.

2 Responses to “Choosing a Church Planting Site”

  1. Steve,
    Without having anyone onsite with which to build, maybe you could talk a little sometime about the process you went through to initially plant. I assume you have financial support. Are you also bivocational? Was there anyone besides you and your brother (and your families)? Just curious as my family has been considering the possibility of a plant in our future as well.

  2. Hi Chip: 

    I’ll do more on this in another blog. Briefly, besides my brother and me there were three other families who shared the dream. The men met for several months, read books together, and our families got together for picnics. It was determined that John would be the lead pastor of an elder team. One of the families dropped out as we were ready to launch. We met bi-weekly for several months in rented space before beginning weekly worship services in March this year. Most of our initial financing came from individuals, from relationships we built over the years through ministry. My wife works part-time. I have not needed to work yet but that might come. Our objective is to have the lead pastor fully supported and we’d like to see other men commit to church planting and work with us before they launch. I would suggest you try to build a core of potential supporters and fellow workers. Of course, among other possibilities, you can also parachute into an area, find work, and let the church plant develop slowly with a home Bible study.





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