Vital Congregations (like all healthy organisms) Reproduce

Vital Churches, like any healthy organisms, reproduce! There are many different strategies existing churches can use to start a second campus or plant a new community of faith. reproduceHere are a few:

1. Mother-Daughter (Partner) Strategy – An existing United Methodist congregation (or, perhaps, several churches) serves as an anchoring, sponsoring or parenting force in launching a new church. This could be a cluster of partner churches through a missional network or a combination of partner church(es) and another entity.

2. Multi-site Expansion Strategy A new faith community meeting at a new site remains part of a sponsoring church, even as they may develop a distinct staff and ministry team system. Multi-sites vary in pastoral and staffing strategies. They typically have a site pastor – who may or may not be the lead preacher at the site.

3. Church-Within-a-Church Strategy  In a world of very expensive real estate, many new churches will share space with other churches (both partner churches and other collegial congregations). Existing congregations choosing to share property may find that new churches may better serve their immediate neighbors, especially when the new church specializes in a certain racial-ethnic culture and/or a certain generation or social group.

4. The “Elijah/Elisha” Strategy This strategy requires a proactive discernment process with the district superintendent or conference staff. Congregations may either discover a new vision and recommit to fruit-bearing ministry or respond to God’s call to become an “Elijah” new church start (2 Kings 2:1-14 tells how Elijah passed on the legacy of his ministry to Elisha). Elijah churches intentionally choose either to (a) join another church and give their physical assets to the conference to reach a new group of people or (b) open their doors to a planter and launch team that takes over management of the facility to start a new congregation.

5. Vital Merger Strategy – Most of the time, mergers do not truly create new churches. Two declining churches typically agree to share one facility and decline together rather than alone. However, East Ohio Conference, for example, has a strategy that requires both of the merging churches to sell their buildings, pool the funds, move to a temporary location, find a new name, receive a trained planter/pastor and proceed as if they were a new church. Leadership of the planter is key.

6. Intentional Communities – The strategy is often traced back to the early church movement described in Acts 2. There have been Intentional Communities throughout most of Christian history. Typically, Intentional Communities remain small in size (3-12 people) and have no plan to “formalize” as chartered churches with land and a church facility.