5 Trends Forming The Future of Church Planting

Written by Josh Roberie on Oct 14, 2021 in Church Planting

Read Time: 5 Minutes

In my role at the Association of Related Churches, I get to train and coach church planters in a "launch large" model. Since I began doing this in 2014, our organization has continued to innovate and adapt to the needs of church planters in the ever-changing landscape of starting a church in modern times. 

We have seen some great success along the way and have also had opportunities to learn. As William Pollard says, "Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow." While things appeared to be going well, 2020 presented everyone with a new way of life that would challenge how we did things before. 

The pandemic became the "Great Accelerator" in many ways that would change the future, not only for church planting but for issues that touch every area of life. Churches began making immediate adjustments as shelter-in-place, and cultural upheaval impacted the local church. The questions at the time were, "How long will this last," and "What will last after this is over?"

One alternative that may need some consideration is that we are not going back. We are moving forward towards the future at a new accelerated pace. What we are learning in ministry right now and how quickly we can apply it might just determine the future of church planting.

As I see church planters making changes to their pre-launch plans, a few areas continue to come up. I do not think these are just temporary adjustments but are trends showing us how churches will be planted for the foreseeable future.

5 Church Planting Trends

1. Longer runways + Higher benchmarks = The Need for a Stronger Network

The runway is longer now than it has been in recent decades. Your runway is the time required for preparation before having your first service. What is creating this longer timeline?

  1. It is more difficult to recruit due to Covid-19 precautions.
  2. More fundraising is required due to rising prices.
  3. More financial and timing margin is needed to compensate for unexpected changes that seem to be not so unexpected anymore.
  4. Venues are harder to come by than ever before due to tighter restrictions and safety concerns. 
  5. Supply chains are backed up in several areas, creating a need for more advanced planning for ordering portable and audio/visual equipment. 

2. Starting Broadcast-Ready

More than ever before, we see church planters start their churches broadcast-ready. Many of our most qualified and experienced church planters did not have broadcast equipment before March of 2020. We actually taught our pastors not to focus on broadcasting their Sunday Morning Services because we wanted them to focus exclusively on in-person recruiting and live experiences. 

What does starting broadcast-ready look like for a church planter? The first thing to consider is adding digital broadcasting equipment to your church planting budget. You can do this with excellence and at a reasonable price. Think like a YouTuber and not like a TV show doing a studio broadcast. 

Speaking of studios, while in the past, almost all of our church planters launched in a way that would allow them to be portable, we are now seeing something different. They are still starting with a plan to be mobile on Sunday but are also leasing smaller spaces for filming and meetings. Sometimes, there is enough room for a small broadcast audience, and other times there is just enough room for the pastor to film a teaching or social media post at a bistro table. This allows church planters to have a spot to hold one-on-one meetings, prayer meetings, and broadcast or film with excellence. 

To get the ultimate step-by-step guide for live streaming, technical aspects of virtual church services, and more, check out our StartCHURCH Connect ebook here. 

3. Valuing Multi-Ethnic Ministry

More church planters see diversity as not just a box that needs to be checked but rather a value that needs to be embraced for the benefit of their community of believers and to be a better reflection of heaven. As Dr. Derwin Gray said, "The Apostle Paul didn't start one church for Jews and one church for Gentiles in the New Testament. The gospel brought people together." 

Do not just believe in diversity. Demonstrate, celebrate, and learn from it. If you do not yet have a diverse team, you can simply express your value for diversity by sharing that it is a part of the church you want to build. Celebrate diversity in how you promote your church with pictures, videos, and stories. Show minorities thriving in leadership. Learn from diversity by inviting conversations from those with different backgrounds and ethnicities. Everyone will be better for it as we see the power of the gospel multiplied through unity.

Building a strong church planting team is a foundational step in the longevity of your church. With Launch to Lead, you’ll learn how to form your church planting team and get the ultimate church planter’s guide from day one to launch day and beyond.


4. Polarizing Times Call for Sensitivity and Wisdom

Your church does not exist in a vacuum. You can expect outsiders to be interested in what you believe and what you value. How can you navigate an ever-changing culture with the unchanging truth of God's word? It requires sensitivity and wisdom.

In polarizing times pastors need to demonstrate patience and model pointing to Jesus above all else. One of the most important ways you can do this is through service-oriented outreach. Back up your message through serving. It is said that "people do not care how much you know until they know how much you care." Serving shows people your heart even if they do not yet understand everything about your message.

5. Have a Plan for Communication 

Facing a global crisis has led many churches to face uncertainty about their weekly meetings and locations. Because of this, mastering communication channels has become vital. When things change or an issue needs to be addressed, how will you ensure all affected parties get the correct information at the right time?

Consider using a communication funnel to disperse relevant information effectively. Start with your staff, then leaders, volunteers, members, and then your community at large. Even sharing updates a day before it reaches the general community can help your church feel part of the plan instead of only hearing it at the same time as everyone else. 

Something I Hope Never Changes

"Reaching out is the new outreach." Pastor JJ Vasquez, Journey Church Orlando. 

While not able to gather in person during a nationwide lockdown, many pastors began making personal phone calls. Church staff stuck at home started doing the same and seeing the impact a personal touch can make. 

I remember, as a child, working on a car with my uncle when my pastor stopped by. He had come over just to say, "Hi." He only stayed a few minutes and then drove away. After he left, my uncle turned to me and said, "That is what a real pastor does. He doesn't just preach sermons, but he also has time for people."

In a time when we are focused on what we are doing online or how we will navigate the next crisis, I hope church planters do not forget that people are the priority. A small investment goes a long way when it comes to adding a personal touch. We learned that during the pandemic, and I hope that this way of leading is here to stay. 

At StartCHURCH, we are honored to have helped over 19,000 church planters and leaders start their organization--and position to grow with the changing times. If you need help with your next steps for your church plant or ministry, please give us a call today at 877-494-4655 or click the banner below to schedule a call. We will help you discover new ways you can grow your organization.


Josh works at the Association of Related Churches overseeing the training church planters receive in the ARC Launch Process, where he has helped 581 new churches start since 2014. He has also written Believe Again: Finding Faith After Losing Religion. You can find him on Instagram at @joshroberie.

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