7 Elements of Starting Churches

“Don’t start churches to make disciples. Start churches by making disciples.”

This past year I’ve had multiple opportunities to train and empower church planters to start new churches. Traditionally, church planter training has focused on developing plans to start worship services. The typical mindset has been: “If we worship publicly and advertise to the community, people will come.”

This approach has worked well in communities where there are a large number of formerly churched people, as well as in new suburbs where there are few existing churches. However, many church planters have discovered that advertising the start of public worship services does not guarantee that people will come.

In an effort to equip church planters as missionaries, I’ve developed a new training model that focuses on embodying the gospel in your community and making disciples, rather than moving into a community and starting public worship. Here’s what the model looks like:

Here are the 7 Elements of Starting Churches and key questions that we address in each module of the training:

Seize the Mission of Jesus!

  • What is God’s mission?
  • What is my part in God’s mission?

Adopt Missional Thinking and Behaviors

  • What shifts do we need to make?
  • What habits will we practice?

Exegete the Culture

  • What is unique about our community?
  • Who are we trying to serve?

Incarnate the Gospel

  • How will we bless our community?
  • How will we reach them?

Multiply Disciple Makers

  • How will we make disciples?
  • When and where will we start?

Form Communities → Churches

  • How will we build community?
  • How will we gather publicly?

Mobilize Leaders/Teams

  • What teams do we need?
  • How will we build them?
  • How will we raise up leaders?

If you are a church planter or part of a church planting team, start by praying together that God would direct your efforts to start a new church by making disciples. Spend time discussing the answers to these questions. Then, begin to think and act like a missionary in your zip code – right where you live.

Start making disciples and forming small groups or disciplemaking bands that meet together for support and encouragement. As you multiply groups/bands, then begin to worship together corporately. Continue to mobilize leaders and teams to multiply disciples and churches all over the place.

Contact me if you’d be interested in knowing more about this training.


Dave DeVries

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Dr. Dave DeVries is a coach, trainer, author and founder of Missional Challenge. He is passionate about coaching and training church planters and missional leaders. With 30+ years of church planting and leadership development experience, Dave brings his passion and encouragement to those he trains and coaches.
6 replies
  1. carlou2
    carlou2 says:

    Your model is great! Jesus never went to a mega church. Instead He went from town to town making disciples and encouraged them to do the same. I like that idea. Let's do that more!

  2. davitagruber
    davitagruber says:

    The visual really helps me to understand the steps, and it makes a lot of sense. It is better to have a bunch of small, efective churches, than big churches who don't look to make disciple making disciples.

  3. Rick Judd
    Rick Judd says:

    Church planting was something that I've always been aware of, but it's been a blessing to go in depth of the process of Disciplemaking within church planting.

  4. bear-dew330
    bear-dew330 says:

    I love this model. Carla is right. Jesus models discipleship not only in the 12 but in the 3. Those 12 men helped change the world by being obedient and fowolling Jesus.

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