Forging Church Planting Partnerships


The “Church Planting Partnership Model” is gaining momentum among churches starting churches, although not as fast as the Multi-site Model. If your church is committed to starting churches yet questions whether it has the necessary resources, look at a church planting partnership first.

A church planting partnership is two or more churches coming together to start a new church. As denominations lost momentum starting churches, the “Church Planting Partnership Model” picked up speed.  Church planting partnership can increase resources and decrease risks in starting a new church. It also carries the potential for multiple new church starts.

A church planting partnership is not just a social experiment. When a partnership dissolves it often means the new church closes. The painful stories from broken planting relationships can deter other churches from participating in a new church starts. Consider the following when forging a church planting partnership.

Ensure the partner churches have a similar philosophy of ministry.

Even churches in the same denomination can have very different philosophies of ministry. Formal, traditional worship is required in one church while another church offers only informal, indigenous services. One church establishes an environment for lifelong denominational members while another creates a culture for unchurched people. Effective church planting partners usually have similar styles of ministry.

Make sure each church has pastoral support for the partnership.

I remember a meeting between leaders of three churches about forming a church planting partnership. During the meeting each pastor was asked, “Will you lead the charge in your church for this partnership?” Two said, “Yes.” One said, “No.” It was a very awkward moment. The pastor who said “no” was attending only because of congregational pressure to participate. His church ultimately did not join the partnership.

Deal with conflict between churches before forming a partnership.

Churches become conflicted. A pastor resents a sister church for recruiting members away from his congregation. A church relocates into the same neighborhood as a sister church. Or a church leaves a changing neighborhood for the suburbs, creating hard feelings among sister churches. Resolve such issues before forming a church planting partnership.

Create a written agreement among the partners.

Before committing to the church planting process agree upon expectations to writing. How much will each church contribute financially? Who will call the church planter? Which church planting strategy will the partnership follow? In my experience more partnerships fall apart due to unmet expectations than any other cause.

Pay particular attention to theological agreement.

Churches forming partnerships solely within their own denomination have an advantage in theological agreement. Non-denominational and community churches must invest more time and effort sorting out agreement on key doctrines. Yet, this must be done. Churches without doctrinal agreement can rarely agree on a list of candidates to serve as planting pastor, let alone the new church’s statement of faith.

What lessons have you learned about partnerships between churches? Share it on social media or send me a message. Other posts in this series include:

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