Church Planting Time Line

While no two church planting projects emerge identically, the following is a basic outline of the key phases in a start-up with some key action areas. 


1-2 years pre-launch

  1. Initial visionary spark: parent congregation or planter.
  2. Discern a potential opportunity to reach an underserved people.
  3. Identify potential early partners. Contact the conference director of new church development. 
  4. Review all planting resource pages on the conference website. 
  5. Complete planter assessment. Planter receives appointment from the Cabinet.
  6. Attend boot camp and build an integrated launch plan with the director of new church development. Complete the pre-launch metrics table.
  7. Have first stakeholder meeting to establish relationships and draft overall business and ministry plan with specific benchmarks. Schedule follow-up meetings six times per year.
  8. Select coach and schedule coaching at least two times per month through preview.
  9. Fundraise for matching funding from the annual conference. 
  10. Refine the impact group, launch plan, budget, and specific benchmarks.
  11. Begin a prayer movement with a goal of 100 partners.
  12. Network within the community; goal is 25 new contacts per week for 10 months for a total of 1,000.
  13. Get name, website, dedicated account, articles of incorporation, and tax-exempt status.
  14. Begin scouting worship venues.
  15. Develop a simple, reproducible discipleship culture through small groups; goal is three to five groups of eight to 12 people each, meeting weekly for social time, study, prayer, and stewardship.
  16. Confirm partners with formal commitment with a minimum goal of 50 adults.
  17. Develop leadership and discipleship.   


3-6 month preview

  1. Refine your preview (three to six celebration events) and launch strategy with stakeholders.
  2. Recruit and develop the seven key teams for public worship. Hire key staff. Begin monthly coaching of all key team leaders as they develop their teams.  
  3. Secure a venue and tech equipment.
  4. Begin preview events (three to five) with word-of-mouth promotion. 
  5. Schedule three to five key bridge events.
  6. Prepare three to five additional small group leaders to start new groups at launch. Meet monthly with each small group leader to coach him or her.
  7. Develop mass marketing plan for grand launch while mobilizing your people to invite. 
  8. Refine launch teaching plan for series.
  9. Update prayer team on progress and movement toward launch.
  10. Review preview worship events for learning and refining.   
  11. Confirm readiness of all teams for launch. Convene team leaders for coaching.
  12. Continue bi-monthly stakeholder meetings and monthly coaching with key leaders. 
  13. Discern the effectiveness of your preview services. Move forward only if you have met your attendance goals and are reasonably confident you can launch large. Recognize that your launch is the one prime opportunity you have to achieve sizeable growth in a single initiative, exceeding the typical best case scenario of 5 to 10 percent annual growth in the years after launch. Make every effort to launch large.   


2-3 years indigenous leadership

  1. Coach and disciple your Sunday team leaders monthly as they develop and grow their teams for weekly worship routines.   
  2. Realign your schedule for teaching prep while still making new contacts each week. 
  3. Convene your ministry team leaders weekly for coordination and planning.
  4. Celebrate a successful launch with all of your volunteers. Show your appreciation for their hard work.
  5. Continue to plan monthly bridge events to stay connected to new people.  
  6. Meet monthly with small group leaders to mentor, coach, and encourage.
  7. Review budget and stewardship development strategy. 
  8. Continue bi-monthly stakeholder meetings and monthly coaching with key leaders.
  9. Launch new small groups to assimilate new people. Begin training new potential leaders to start new groups.   
  10. Evaluate and discern mature key leaders for council leadership. 
  11. Grow stewardship values in a focused season of commitment. 
  12. Build partnerships with local community agencies. Continue to reach outward. 


Self supporting and governing

  1. Develop leaders, develop leaders, develop leaders! Begin to give leadership titles to those who have demonstrated their integrity and ability to serve. 
  2. Set a standard for your congregation of being outwardly focused by making organizational decisions with a bias toward the outsider and non-attender.
  3. Preach and teach in ways that are relevant to newcomers while challenging regular attendees. Review services to ensure the church isn’t becoming a “club.” 
  4. Develop stewardship values. Grow people from donors to givers. 
  5. Coach staff monthly. Grow them and thereby grow the ministry.
  6. Develop council as a visionary and policy board. Create clarity around their role in governance, staff’s role in leadership, and congregation’s role in ministering.
  7. Continue to cast vision for the next challenge before the congregation. 
  8. Begin a capital campaign for your first building.
  9. Maintain a balanced life as a healthy leader. Make time for physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental well being. Keep a priority on personal integrity and family.
  10. Reach toward ecclesiastical roots and explore new partnerships where you can give back to those who helped give birth to your ministry.
  11. Notify your district superintendent to charter your ministry as a new church. 
  12. Take steps to start a second service, launch a second campus, or plant a new church. 

Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church

122 West Franklin Avenue, Suite 400 Minneapolis, MN 55404

(612) 870-0058