June 13, 2024

Could We Have a Church Planting Wave?


Since ECO’s inception, we have wanted to be a church planting denomination. We had people like Terry Geiger and Tim Keller speak at our early gatherings to encourage us in our church planting endeavors. I spoke about our goals of church planting in terms such as, “We want to plant more churches than we transfer into ECO.”  However, as I shared at the Synod business meeting this past year, our church planting goals have been harder to achieve than we anticipated for a variety of reasons. 

One of the huge challenges early on was tapping into a pipeline of church planters. I would say back in 2015-2016 that someone could have given me 10 million dollars to spend on church planting and we wouldn’t have had enough feasible church planting projects on which to spend that money. We simply didn’t have the pipeline of planters.

We are now in a drastically different situation. Luke Parker, our Church Planting Director has done an unbelievable job of tapping into a pipeline of planters. As of the writing of this newsletter, we have over 150 pre-screened and vetted planters. A significant number of these pastors are non-white or are women. These are people who know and agree with the basic theology of ECO, have shown some calling and gifting toward church planting, and are realistic about the finances of ECO. And they want to take their Flourishing Next Step with church planting! Their next step may be an internship, taking a full assessment, or developing a church planting plan that is consistent with their wiring. I know not all will end up planting with ECO or planting at all, but I know that if we cultivate the right environment, we could see a very high number of church plants. 

We often say that three things are critical to create the right environment for church planting. 

  1. Expertise – Planters need training and coaching to help them navigate the difficulties of church planting. Luke has excellent and effective training available with a cadre of coaches and assessors to help ensure planting success.
  2. Community – If pastoring is lonely, church planting can be even lonelier. One of the big things planters need is other churches and leaders to extend community, care and prayer for them. 
  3. Financial Resources – Church plants are start up organizations. While there are a variety of options to help make church plating cost effective, there is still some level of financial investment that is needed from the denomination, churches, and individuals.

It will take participation from all of us to increase the likelihood of successful church plants in ECO! In the fall we will talk more about some of these church planting opportunities and how we might support and encourage planters. For now, I simply ask for you to pray for church planting in ECO. I think of Jesus commissioning his disciples in Luke 10 and exhorting them that there is a much larger harvest than there are workers. We need to pray that the Lord would send more workers into the harvest. Might we join together in prayer for our church plants and planters as well as the disciples in our congregations. 

I am grateful for each of you and your churches. I am thinking of you and praying for you as you live and serve in your communities for the glory of God this summer! 

In Christ,


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