Why Waste The Time Writing A Church Planter’s Blog?

A friend asked me why I “waste time” writing a church planting blog. Good question, I’m supposed to be retired but travel at least 13 weeks a year teaching disciplemaking and church multiplication. On top of that I try (often not successfully) to post something new and interesting each week.

The answer is that I believe in the kingdom of God. But, the most important factor is that I believe in the pastors of smaller churches. These guys are my heroes—especially bivocational (freelance) pastors. They pay a price that leaders of larger churches do not. And (this is the good part) they are more productive in A. Evangelism. B. Disciplemaking and C. Church planting. For me, supporting churches with fewer than 500 members is not a task, it’s my life.

Smaller Churches as the Roots of the Tree

You read that right, these folks are at the root of the tree if mega-churches are the flowers at the top. It was in the early 1980s that George Barna discovered that small churches evangelize best because they are relational. They are relational because they can’t afford expensive programs. Big churches think they evangelize, but often glean the results of the smaller churches—people get saved in one place then discover another that has better children’s programs or more exciting worship… you get it.

The relational nature of smaller churches more naturally (though not always) leads to pastors making disciples rather than dumping the Great Commission on a staff member (unrighteous delegation).

Smaller Churches Reproduce more Effectively

The real kick in the pants is the efficiency-vs-effectiveness quotient when it comes to measuring church size against the Great Commission. Big churches are efficient. They touch masses of people with minimal effort. Smaller churches are more demanding of leadership—you work hard for every relationship. More than 20 percent of new churches come from churches numbering fewer than 100 in attendance. Congregations smaller than 500 people produce a whopping 60plus percent of church plants.

You read that right, more than 60 percent of churches ever planted came from a sending church numbering less than 500 people on their membership roles. This means for all the thousands of people attending megachurches, very few will ever be challenged to plant a church, even a microchurch.

My Three Goals

So, helping smaller churches A. Add members. B. Build disciplemaking continuums. C. Plant churches that will plant churches is worth living for—at least I hope you think it’s worth it because it takes a lot of my time.

Are you shocked that so much is done by the few? Did you think it was the purview of larger congregations to get the Great Commission done? Please do share your thoughts in the comments box below—if I have one regret it is that so many read this stuff while so few care to comment (yes, my friend, that was a guilt-trip).



30 thoughts on “Why Waste The Time Writing A Church Planter’s Blog?”

  1. Great article and information that you shared. I am a pastor that would be considered a “root” based upon your definition. We planted the congregation where I am blessed to serve in 2013 and have seen many lives touched by God. Our church did not hit the fastest growing lists and in some instances there have been very real struggles. Yet, I have discovered the faithfulness of God throughout the years and can point to the many instances where in spite of what the statistics would say, God has done a unique work.

  2. Rev. Benjamin Mondal

    This is very much healthy writing and easy to understand. Small Churches truly become very much relational. Can take care and fellowship very easily. I am blessed to read all these steps and thoughts. Please keep it continue with more effective writing that is very helpful to us to work for Kingdom work. Thanks a lot.

  3. On his death bed I remember my step dad’s last words to my oldest brother to care for his brothers/sister and mom. These words were thought to have been the most important as they were instructive in maintaining a family under the roof of a single mom situation. Understandably, people think that their last words are significant that demands attention. Why not Jesus’ last words to His disciples (Matt. 28:18-20)? They were not only instructional to make disciples that are reproducible in all the nations but more so that it was a command not a cool Christian suggestion. I think that until the believer highly values above all else the final words of our Master , of whom we are accountable to, the attention to Kingdom advancement then remains to be on the back burner. Your articles, in my opinion, serve as steps towards serious reconsiderations and sense of conviction to the greater commission. Thanks and keep it coming.

  4. Dave Del Rosario

    Hi Ralph, great post. But I’m confused (or don’t understand) your phrase “unrighteous delegation”. I agree that there is a big difference between large churches (over 500) and those that are smaller. When we did our church extension at Ahuimanu School for three years it was a very different dynamic and relationships were established much quicker. But that being said, after being at Anchor Church (Hope Chapel Kaneohe Bay) for over 11 years now I believe that it’s possible to still reach and connect people if you are intentional in that effort. (Mini-churches, developing strong volunteer base).

    Keep up the good work in supporting our church planters. This is surely your gift!

    God Bless

    Dave Del Rosario

  5. Thank you for caring about the small and the church planters of the world. Your ministry has greatly encouraged my husband and me. I believe our former senior pastor, Steve McVey, was in a cohort with you recently. He is starting Dirt Roads Network, a rural church planting network in southeast Kansas. My husband and I are the spear tip of that ministry. We moved to Iola, Kansas in August of 2018 and have been reaching out to young adults in our tiny town. My husband is a Nuclear Reactor Operator, so we like to say that the nuclear industry is funding church planting in Kansas. Anyway, we’ve had the privilege of hearing you speak twice now at Exponential and have read your book, New to Five. Your example has inspired us tremendously!

  6. Thanks for your post. We have been a church of about 250 for several years and now about 300. I am trying to foster more of a disciple making mindset and I appreciate the emphasis on relationships. We are praying about how we can foster church planting. Gary Black

  7. Loren Anderson

    Have you seen or been involved with a an established Mega Church effectively begin micro church’s as of means of planting churches. Intentionally creating pockets of relational evangelism, leadership development/ discipleship. To obey God incrementally in the face of the massive inertia of the Mega Church business. As a transition or simply as a way to release or commission those in the congregation or leadership who are chaffing for relational ministry/church growth. I am a congregant that is chaffing and sorrowful for all the called individuals I see leaving out the back door of my Mega church instead of sent out the front.

    1. Check my free ebook Mega.Multi.Multiply at Exponential.org for an incredible example of a church that grew to mega while planting micros. Many of those microchurches now number in the hundreds, though most remain small. Each is touching people otherwise unreached by the gospel.

  8. Thank you, Ralph. I’m one of the many who read but don’t usually comment. Your blogs are wonderful, and as a bivocational pastor, highly relatable to me. Blessings.

  9. I’m a pastor of a small church plant, and can very well relate with what you’ve written.
    Thanks a lot for the encouragement.

  10. Loki Bataluna

    Mahalo Pastor Ralph for this article. So often, people count small churches insignificant or “not doing well” because of their small size. I think of it as the ability to allow relationships to grow deep and meaningful. A place for trust to be established and for teams to be created! My husband and I hold close to us the model that you taught us… we build the kingdom through relationships. Mahalo!!

  11. Ralph,

    This is a great article. Thanks for posting. We are a small congregation that plants other small congregations, but most don’t understand the logic or faith behind it. Anyway, thanks.

  12. Aloha Ralph,
    Thank you for your blogs. It is full of wisdom and practical action steps. Every time I read it, it renews my energy and passsion to continue the Great Comission and multiply leaders of the next generation to go out and reach new people, disciple them and start a small group that eventually will become a church. Anything short of that is poho that we exist as a church. Till this day Barbie and I are very grateful that we have the Hope Chapel DNA in our church. We’re always so proud to share that we’re the product and fruit of the Hope Chapel movement church that started in Hermosa Beach and planted under the coconut tree.

    I forwarded this to our Hawaii Pastor’s Cluster.

    Keep on blogging, teaching and training!

  13. Dr. Moore, I am with you in my admiration for bivocational and even volunteer pastors. For me, that focuses in Africa and Asia, though as an eastern suburban pastor who retired to the rural Ozarks, I also have tremendous respect for storefront pastors and pastors of little country churches. I have written a book on the practical aspects of being a pastor and leading a church that is being used to train pastors in several African and Asian countries, even though it is not yet in print – they are teaching from digital advance review copies which I provide them free of charge. Is there any way we an collaborate?

  14. I completely agree especially regarding the hero status of small-church and bi-vocational pastors. Please keep up the good work of encouraging and equipping them.

  15. Amanda Miyamoto

    Thanks for sharing. We learn alot from you. It is God’s gift being honored when you teach. Pass on the love, care.

  16. Thanks for continuing to post wisdom in small doses! Your thoughts on bivocational are really important for the next generation of churches. I pray that megachurches begin actively seeking smaller churches that need support rather than the other way around. We’re all in this together!

  17. bobby gilbert

    I read your stuff. I appreciate that you keep winging it. I am winging it. I have been praying for a change. I might get the change this september. Beware what I pray for. One priest will be taking over 8 communities. We will be one of them. It is kind of the backwards way of church planting and campus thinking. There is not enough priests. The churches are not heavily visited. Get a bunch of catholics to visit one church building to make for a bigger worship service. Somewhere in this re-organization, I see a free hand coming.

  18. Thanks Ralph,

    Looking forward to you coming to Ireland 🙂

    One of our family phases is “Small enough to know you and large enough to serve you”. I thing the principle of C 1 – cell groups of 3 to 12, C 2 – Community groups and ministries groups of 12 upwards C 3 – Congregations that stay around the 120 -300 and C 4 City or regional celebrations (either by the one network of churches or shared values of churches)

    We can’t deny that the small discipleship model set by our master is the root of the tree or foundation blocks of our church communities and congregations.

    Thank you Ralph for showing us how it is applied in real life church planting.

    Be blessed and a blessing,

    (Foursquare Ireland)

  19. We started a “backwards church” last year in a school cafeteria in NW Florida. We are a church made up of small groups rather than… well, you know. We have more people attending our small groups throughout the week than we do in service on Sunday morning. I’m the freelance pastor and planter with the crazy vision that if we can’t fill every auditorium and stadium with people, let’s fill every living room and multiply disciples. The biggest struggle for us is adding for multiplication. Thank you for the blog posts. I read them all.

  20. I found this great confirmation for what is going on with my church home. We are focusing on relationships- internal and with our community. This is more important than snazzy programs- though of course there is a call to stewardship of the time and talents we all have.
    Thanks Ralph and Ruby for your many years serving and sharing…

  21. Thank you, Ralph, for this very important information. Could you give me the source? I would like to spread the information and maybe use it in the book I am writing on.
    Probably, it is not primarily the size of a church but the level of institutionalization that turns out to be counterproductive. And also relatively small churches can fall into that trap. The higher its level of institutionalization, the more it will produce consumers and fewer disciples. These consumers keep you busy with their expectations and are actually hindering the work of disciple-making. With more members, you certainly will have more money, but that money is mostly used in order to develop the institution, not for reaching the pagans. I wonder if we are cheating ourselves. Jesus demonstrated a totally different way.

  22. Hi Ralph, what an interesting story. I never thought about it that way, between a large church and a small church, and I think your right. Thank you.

  23. Ralph,

    I have always loved and respected you from afar. After pastoring a large church for over 35 years, I am now pastoring a small inter-city church. I am being reminded of many things I had forgotten and learning many new things from this ‘up close and personal’ church. I’m learning so much about caring for the poor and disenfranchised. Thank you for your many years of planting a sponsoring smaller churches – you are one of my heroes!

  24. I am leaving a mega church of 1600 members to plant micro churches in my area of town. People in the American church can not understand the micro church model. There are so few around and they most often see the traditional model of Western church.

    Thank you Ralph for your dedication to church planting and reaching the lost!

  25. Henk Latumaerissa

    This article confirms my belief in the strength and power of small churches. We still have a lot of work to do but what a blessing it is to serve the Head of the church Jesus Christ. Halleluja!

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