Definition: Backyard Church Planting | ˈ`bakˈyärd chərch ˈplanting| verb

  • The act of establishing a religious organization in close proximity to another religious organization of likeminded faith and practice.
  • The practice of building on someone else’s foundation.
  • Akin to sheep stealing.

You know what I’m talking about?

Church planting is not over. Today is a day and age when the establishment of Bible-believing, gospel-preaching, Christ-exalting New Testament churches is still needed. But let’s think strategically about it. After all, the Bible describes the Christian faith as warfare. We are part of a Kingdom. We have a foe. Is it not incumbent upon us to be strategic as we expend our energy, spend our resources, and direct our efforts?

Which brings up an important point. Is there a place for backyard church planting? This organization, Sharefaith, provides media for the modern church, bringing high quality resources to pastors and other Christian workers. As such, we are intensely interested in the success and advance of the true church. Should we then, be engaged in backyard church planting?

There are so many factors to consider when planting a church. For example, it is entirely legitimate to establish a church near another likeminded church if the two churches are targeting two different people groups. It is entirely legitimate to establish a church close to another similar biblical church if, for example, the one is getting too big. After all, NT churches were most likely smaller groups of believers meeting in homes (not megachurches). It is also feasible, along the same lines that a church may wish to multiply–to divide and conquer–and so establish “daughter churches” nearby.

Unfortunately, however, there are some practices of backyard church planting that are flat-out wrong. For example, a denomination may notice that they don’t have a denominational church in a particular city, although there are sufficient biblical churches in that vicinity. Should the denomination establish a church there, simply to have a church in that city? Is it a wise use of kingdom resources? Has Christ’s kingdom splintered into a plethora of sub-kingdoms, each competing with one another for higher numbers, more members, and bigger revenues?

If you are considering church planting, consider a few factors…

  • Consider your gifts, situation, and disposition, and find out how they will best be used in Kingdom purposes. Some people are personally wired to reach a certain type of people. If you are born-and-bred in the deep South, speak with a rich southern accent, know southern culture, and love southern food, it is likely that you will be best suited to a southern church-planting effort. It’s not that God cannot use you in the frigid tundra of Massachusetts. It’s simply that personally, you may already be prepared for church planting in the area that you are most familiar with. Fewer cultural barriers to cross potentially means faster adjustment to your ministry context. Consider also signing up with Sharefaith.
  • Consider the need, strategically. Church planting is costly, time-consuming, and difficult. Do it where the need is greatest. Look at population metrics, growing cities, and religious demographics. Don’t assume that your own neighborhood is the best place, simply because your parents live nearby, your kids are in a good school, you finally purchased the home your wife wanted, and you have a great family doctor (plus, a membership at the local country club, but of course that’s not a factor). Instead, find out where the biggest need is, not the most life amenities and comforts. It may be that you realize the greatest need is in a foreign country–in a place, perhaps, where people have not heard the name of Christ. Now that’s a thought!
  • Consider the community, christian and non-Christian. Finally, take a look around the community where you are considering church planting. Is there a Bible-preaching, Jesus-loving, thriving church close by? Are they effectively reaching the very community where you are considering a new church? If so, then it may be best to reconsider your strategy. On the other hand, think about the non-Christian community. Is there, on the other hand, a growing population of foreign transfer students moving into the area for university training at the State college? No nearby church is equipped or able to reach them? Perhaps, then, your proposed ministry has a niche it could fill. Is there a large community of lower-income ethnic minorities who have no gospel witness in their particular neighborhoods? Again, this may be a strategic move.

When we talk of “strategy” it can become easy to elevate our strategic thinking to such a level that we tend to disregard the movement of the Spirit and the sovereign plan of God. Submit to Him. Pray. His Kingdom will not fail and His plan will succeed, regardless of whether or not it looks entirely “strategic” from our limited human perspective.

If you are engaged in church planting, keep in mind that Sharefaith offers an excellent way to enhance your media resources. It’s ideal for the small and low-budget church. Please consider obtaining a one-year membership with unlimited access to our vast library of resources for every occasion.

About The Author

Daniel Threlfall

Daniel Threlfall has been writing church ministry articles for more than 10 years. With his background and training (M.A., M.Div.), Daniel is passionate about inspiring pastors and volunteers in their service to the King. Daniel is devoted to his family, nerdy about SEO, and drinks coffee with no cream or sugar. Learn more about Daniel at his blog and twitter.

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2 Responses

  1. Tristan

    Brothers and Sisters,

    The simple fact that this article speaks of denominations speaks volumes to the already splintering of Christ’s Kingdom by man. Christ did not establish denominations, He established and empowered the People of God – a Universal Church. I don’t see how backyard church planting is any different. It’s seems more of the same to me.

  2. Florence

    I get so tired of driving down a city street and observe on every and or every other corner a church some of the same denomination practically next door to each other, each of them with 20 members a piece. If we as Christians have enough sense to see the error of such a display what must the world think of us.

    I do so agree in the strategic planning process. If we truly seek God in our planning I doubt there would be any backyard church planting.

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