Challenges of Planting a Church

William JohnsonAll Enews, Planting Team

Brennan's Wave, Missoula

There is no question that every ministry has its challenges. Sometimes the success of the ministry is recognizing those challenges and being prepared to work through each and every one. The following list highlights some, but definitely not all, of the challenges of church planting. Although each point has a short description – an article could be written on each.

Spiritual Warfare

One of the most evident challenges facing any plant (and any ministry, as far as that goes), is the recognition and engaging of the enemy in battle. Sharing the gospel is a declaration of war and there will be resistance. A planter has to realize the warfare is with the enemy and not the people.

Developing Team

Oftentimes, the only people on the team are the planter and his family. Planters are encouraged to recruit a team who can help with the start of the church, but that team often-times only consists of one or two other families. The church is prayerfully birthed out of the harvest field as new believers are saved, discipled, and then eventually join the team, which at some point becomes a church.


This topic is a reality – there are costs associated with almost everything.

  • Cost of living – planters have to raise their funds or work to support their family.
  • Ministry – events, advertising, meetings, study material, etc., all have a cost.
  • Facilities – whether renting or buying, facilities are often expensive. It is not unusual for new plants to rent facilities that cost thousands of dollars for a few hours of availability per week. Often, plants utilize facilities that are used for other purposes during the week – schools, storefronts, businesses, community centers, senior centers, gyms, and the list goes on! Some of these facilities require a plant to furnish chairs, audio/video equipment, etc. – more costs.
  • Work

    This is definitely an article in itself. Planting a church is work and lots of it. Here is a “short” list of the work required to plant a church.

  • Work – this is not a mistake. Most planters have to work another job in addition to all the ministry time that they also invest. If a planter works full-time on the plant, this is still work!
  • Recruiting – planters spend time recruiting mission teams, funding partners, prayer partners, leadership team, etc. Most often, this takes many “touches” and conversations to yield a limited amount of results.
  • Planning – if a planter doesn’t plan and take the time to plan, he will be very busy and accomplish very little. What does a planter plan? A well thought out calendar is a great benefit to plan mission teams, events, meetings with people, training, studying, preaching, teaching, working, family time, rest time, etc.
  • Relationships – planning events in order to encounter people that one has not met yet, being intentional to meet people, investing time in building relationships, etc., requires time and effort.
  • Set up and tear down – when a church begins to meet, often in a facility used for other things during the week, a planter has to set up and tear down – some of the most tiring and repetitive work, yet necessary for worship services, individual ministries, etc. This can also be a requirement for block parties, sporting events, backyard Bible clubs, and any other activity they may do.
  • Etc., etc., etc., – this means there is much more. Planting requires a lot of work.
  • Time

    There are only so many hours in a day so a planter has to be a good steward of his time. A planter has to constantly evaluate what is the best use of the team’s time and individual time.

    This is only a start to the challenges facing a church planter and a church plant. So, why do people do it? A planter believes that God called them to a community to pastor it, love it, witness to the people, and totally trust on God for the outcome. In summary, it’s described as “the call.” Discouragement will come but the “call” will help a planter persevere.

    Pray for our Montana planters. Just recently I was talking with two planters. One told me that his team had had over 100 gospel conversations and had seen just one convert. I asked the second planter if that was true for him; he nodded in agreement. This is the work that is to be done if Montana is going to be reached with the gospel and churches planted from the harvest.

    Are you ready to be involved in a plant?

    About the Author

    William Johnson

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    William Johnson is the Church Planting team leader of the Montana Southern Baptist Convention.