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Gospel-Rich Church Planting

Resources Curated to Help Church Planters Evaluate their Readiness to Plant, Avoid Pitfalls, and Apply Wisdom from Experienced Planters into Their Own Context

In partnership with Bethlehem College & Seminary
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Course Introduction

About the Course

This course is designed to answer the key questions surrounding church planting, whether from planters, sending churches, or planting teams.

  • Why do we plant? (Matt Rogers)
  • What qualifies someone to plant? (Steve Timmis)
  • How does a church plant reach the lost? (Tony Merida)
  • How do church plants multiply disciples? (David Platt)
  • How do church plants function differently in different contexts? (Various)
  • What kind of leadership philosophy should a church plant adopt? (Joe Rigney)
  • What problems is a church plant likely to encounter? (Tim Cain)
  • How do we define success in church planting? (Tim Cain)
  • Other questions on church planting. (Steve Timmis and Tim Cain)

This course contains about 7 hours of video. Learners are encouraged to watch the video, explore the recommended links, and consider purchasing the recommended books for ongoing study.


Resources prepared by George Luke and Colton Moore from Bethlehem College & Seminary.

Additional curation by Phil Thompson for The Gospel Coalition.

Purpose for Church Planting

Churches should know why they plant and church planters should know why they leave one church to start another. In the following video, Matt Rogers articulates four reasons why planters should be sent from Acts 13:1–3.


About Dr. Matt Rogers

Matt Rogers lives in Greenville, SC and serves as the pastor of The Church at Cherrydale, a church that Matt and his team planted in 2009. Since the church’s launch, The Church at Cherrydale has launched two church plants, sent several missionaries, and assisted in many other planting endeavors. Matt is a graduate of Furman University, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and recently received his PhD from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Matt is the author of several books including Seven Arrows: Aiming Bible Readers in the Right Direction and writes for a number of evangelical organizations, speaking around the nation about the need for disciple-making and leadership development in the local church. This all pales in comparison to the joy Matt finds in being the husband of Sarah and the father of Corrie, Avery, and Hudson, and Willa.


Reflection Questions
  1. How has the need for church planting grown since the end of World War II?
  2. What factors lead people to assume that church planting isn’t necessary?
  3. Why are church partnerships necessary in church planting?
  4. What role should the church play in sending church planters?
  5. What connection does Matt Rogers see between church chaos and church planting?

  • John Piper - Plant Churches

  • David Helm - What is the Biblical Foundation for Church Planting?

  • J. D. Greear - Developing a Culture of Sending

Qualifications & Outlook for Planting

In this video, Steve Timmis offers different warnings and guidelines for aspiring church planters. Character, conviction, and competence are necessary qualifications for planting.


Steve Timmis lives in Sheffield, England where he is the Senior Elder in The Crowded House. He is the Executive Director of Acts 29 Europe. He is married to Janet and they have four married children, and eight grandchildren at last count. He has co-authored a number of books with Tim Chester, including Total Church, as well as authoring a couple all on his own – Gospel Centered Leadership and I Wish Jesus Hadn’t Said That!


Reflection Questions
  1. What is pragmatism? Why is it dangerous for the church?
  2. Discipleship vs. Mission, or Mission vs. Worship; false dichotomies are dangerous. What are some false dichotomies that you’re tempted to make as you plant?
  3. What personal character traits are required to successfully plant?
  4. What is the nature of the conviction required to plant?
  5. What kind of skills are needed to be competent?

Calling & Evangelism in Planting


About Dr. Tony Merida

Tony Merida is the founding pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. He also serves as Associate Professor of Preaching at Southeastern Baptist Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. His books include: Faithful Preaching, Orphanology, Ordinary: How to Turn the World Upside Down, Proclaiming Jesus, and eight volumes in the new Christ-Centered Exposition commentary series (B&H), of which he also serves as a general editor, along with Danny Akin and David Platt. He is happily married to Kimberly; and they have five adopted children.


Reflection Questions
  1. How did Merida determine that he was called to church planting?
  2. What role did delays in Merida’s journey to planting play in preparing him? Did you have similar delays in your journey?
  3. What does Merida think he should have done differently as a planter?
  4. What does Merida mean when he talks about “network evangelism” and “hospitality evangelism”? What are Merida’s five “networks”?
  5. Why does Merida not draw a one-to-one correspondence between church planting and evangelism?

Discipleship in Planting

In this video, David Platt explores the connection between discipleship, spiritual multiplication, and church planting.



Recommended Resources

The following two study guides are designed to equip next-generation church leaders to be discipled and to disciple others.

Contextual Strategies in Planting

The following videos address contextual considerations of planting in general and specific contexts. Consider how your church planting context demands its own contextual missional strategy.

  • D. A. Horton - The Most Common Misconception about Urban Church Planting

  • Matt Chandler - What Trend in Church Planting Would the Average Christian Find Most Surprising?

  • Nate Walker - Church Planting in the Northwest

  • Mark Peach - Church Planting in Salt Lake City

  • Stephen Um, Collin Hansen, & Jared Wilson - Don't Hate on Rural Ministry


Team Leadership in Planting

In the following video, Joe Rigney introduces a strategy for leadership in church plants that involves a team approach to preaching and responsibility. Consider ways to compare and contrast Rigney’s approach with other leadership approaches you have encountered.


About Joe Rigney

Joe Rigney serves as Assistant Professor of Theology and Christian Worldview at Bethlehem College & Seminary, where he teaches Bible, theology, history, philosophy, history, and Jonathan Edwards. When he’s not teaching college and seminary students, he spends time enjoying his lovely wife, laughing with his two sons, reading medieval theology, playing flag football, and eating fish tacos. He is the author of Live Like a Narnian: Christian Discipleship in Lewis’s Chronicles and The Things of Earth: Treasuring God by Enjoying His Gifts.


Reflection Questions
  1. How does Rigney’s church plant divide up the preaching responsibility amongst a team? How does this compare to your strategy for pastoral leadership?
  2. What benefits for the church does Rigney attribute to a team approach to preaching? Which was most impactful for you?
  3. What benefits for the pastor does Rigney attribute to a team approach to preaching? Which was most impactful for you?
  4. What objections does Rigney suggest may arise that challenge his church’s model for shared responsibility? Which have you heard most frequently?

Challenges in Planting


About Tim Cain

Tim Cain is the pastor of Kaleo Church which he planted in El Cajon, California, in 2009 after completing a one year church planting residency at Bethlehem Baptist Church. Kaleo is part of both the TCT and the Acts 29 church planting networks. Tim and his wife, Abbey, have three wonderful adopted children. Tim has a passion for preaching the Gospel, church planting, adoption, and feasting with the poor. His first book, The God of Great Reversals: Finding the Gospel in the Book of Esther, was released in 2016.


Reflection Questions
  1. What are some of the responses that Cain says are possible to those who are broken? What are the outcomes of these approaches?
  2. Why is it important to care for others without seeking to control them?
  3. What did Cain discover was lacking in his own heart as a church planter? How have you exhibited a similar void when working with people you can’t fix?
  4. What is the first result of ministering out of our own strength?
  5. Why does Cain suggest that Paul talks much about his struggles to a struggling church?

Success in Planting

Tim Cain, in the video below, adjusts expectations for church planters from working for numbers, to working for knowledge of God. We don’t want to be hitting a quota like a factory; we want to be on a quest for faithfulness to Jesus.


About Tim Cain

Tim Cain is the pastor of Kaleo Church which he planted in El Cajon, California, in 2009. Kaleo Church is part of the TCT Church Planting Network as well as Acts 29. He and his wife, Abbey, have two adopted children that they love very much. Tim has a passion for preaching the Gospel, church planting, adoption, and feasting with the poor. He is finishing up his first book, The God of Great Reversals: Finding the Gospel in the Book of Esther.


Reflection Questions
  1. How do you define success as a pastor? How have you been challenged by Tim’s definition?
  2. Are you more concerned with the fruitfulness of faithfulness or fruitfulness of factory output?
  3. Are you maturing disciples, or recording numbers of attendees?

Discussion on Church Planting

In this panel discussion, Steve Timmis and Tim Cain answer questions related to growth as church planters.



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