Strategic Church Planting
Pastor Douglas Crumbley

Douglas Crumbley
Douglas and Debbie have been involved in seven church launches, and are currently the pastors of Journey Church in Acworth/Dallas GA (north Atlanta area). They also coach and train pastors/leaders with the 242double principle of church leadership/management. For more information please go to

Church Planting

There has never been a time where the forces against the church are so strong or so well organized as now. We live in a world that is rapidly moving away from the knowledge of God. In America for example, the generation growing up now has less basic understanding of spiritual matters than any prior generation. With statistics showing that more people are being born again and discipled in the first five years of a new church plant, it’s easy to see why every church needs to make church planting a priority.

I believe in both church planting and the church planter. It’s a matter of my personal belief that every church should have church planting as part of their mission’s strategy, especially in their native homeland. Without new, relevant, missional churches being planted, Christianity easily slides into a mixture of current culture, religion, and pure old apathetic status quo. It’s happened in Europe. It can happen anywhere. It’s happening here in the United States right now.

Recently I had a phone conversation with the leading Missiologist of the Southern Baptist Convention. They have literally exploded in planting churches, and they are very successful at it. They understand much when it comes to reaching a community with the gospel, influencing city leaders, and partnering with local organizations such as schools and homeless shelters. Towards the end of our conversation he only had one question for me. He asked, “Douglas, with all the talk about faith, love, power and prosperity you faith guys give, when are you going to get on the ball of planting churches and help us win the world to Christ?” I hope you feel as much conviction reading this as I did when he asked me the question.

Church planting is a fast-paced, rapidly changing field. It takes people who are tenacious about their calling and their direction from God. It requires us to step out of our comfort zones and adjust our methodology without compromising our Message. It is not for the faint at heart. To set out to plant a new church is to set out to work…..hard.

For the sake of space I am going to give a brief summary of some of the most important “must do’s” as you begin your endeavor to plant a life-giving church. This summary is just that, a summary. For more information about church planting or to view a list of church planting resources you can go to my Blog at

Of the many things that should be done in preparation for planting a church, the following three are what I consider some of the most important:

1. Character must be King. What I mean by this is whatever is small in your life right now will become huge when you take the leap to start a new church. Don’t underestimate this. Weaknesses in character, bad habits, and life patterns will become a snare if left unchecked. There is much pressure that comes with launching anything, especially a work for God. Satan does not want you or anyone else for that matter starting a new church. He knows what you know. That many people will come to Christ and leave his kingdom of darkness. When God calls a Pastor and his team out you can count on being tested in the area of character. It must be solid BEFORE you try to launch a new church.

2. Plan to invest one year minimum in the city you plan to plant a church in before the church is launched. Let’s face it. The days of pioneering a church in someone’s living room are just about over. I believe it is possible to work hard the first year in preparation and launch your new church large from the first day. I have a friend that started a church in Atlanta two years ago and had over 600 in attendance that first Sunday. You will not keep all of those people and neither did he. If just a third come back you will have a much better start than if you had began in your living room. I am going to give you a bullet list of just a few of the things that will need to be done in the 12 months before launch Sunday. You will clearly see that 12 months is barely enough time to launch an effective life-giving church.

  • Move to the city
    • Hopefully you will have others going with you.
  • Find jobs suitable for your schedules
  • Start building your launch team
    • This needs to be at least 25 other people. I know many of you will not believe me when I tell you that 25 is a minimal amount to have on the launch team, but it’s true. Think about it, if you are having problems finding 25 people to go with you on the Journey to launch the church, how do you expect to grow the church after it is launched?
  • Write a budget of what will be needed and start raising funds.
    • Depending on where you are in the country, and where your church services are going to be held, this could be as low as $30,000 or as high as $250,000.
    • Look for churches that have moved or closed down for some great deals on equipment and supplies.
    • Craigslist can be a good friend
    • Be sure to include your first year of salary in the amount you are raising. I can’t underestimate the importance this is.
  • Get involved in the community.
    • Volunteer at city wide events
    • Volunteer at schools
    • Meet the city leaders and ask them how you can serve them
    • Go and meet the DJ’s at some of the local radio stations.
    • Get to know the leaders within the police department
    • Meet as many other pastors as you can
    • And tell everyone about your new church that will be launched on ______
  • Put together your music and worship team
  • Look for places to meet
    • Schools, Hotels, warehouse space etc.
  • Start having weekly discovery meeting with your launch team. You will need to have all of these things nailed down with them before the launch.
    • The vision of the church
    • The philosophy of the church
    • The mission of the church
    • The worship style of the church
    • The ministry style of the church
    • The government structure of the church
    • The leadership structure of the church
    • The financial structure of the church
    • The outreach philosophy of the church

This may seem like a lot and it really is. None of these things need to be overlooked, nor do they need to be done in haste. For example your vision statement needs to be solidified before the launch and every one of the leaders should be able to quote it, but even more, they are already doing it. When we started Journey I had to learn the hard way. In other words, I did not have anyone writing articles that I knew about in our camp about planting churches. By our 2nd birthday we had re-written our Vision statement three times. The reason we kept re-visiting it was because no one in our church was getting it. It was too long and lost its meaning in all the words. Now, it’s short, to the point, and easily remembered. I suggest that you invest much time developing the vision of your church.

3. Choosing the right people to go with you. These are the people you will choose to be a part of the launch team. They are the ones the pastor will invest the majority of time with the first year or so before the date of the church launch. If there is any one thing that will determine how successful that you will be, it is this. You must choose wisely. These are the people who you will be dreaming with, eating with, laughing with, and yes, crying with. They will be the catalyst and foundation for launching and growing the church. Their gifts are what you the pastor will mine from. Their creativity, passion and management of the vision will be the thing that sets your church apart from the beginning. They can also determine the success or failure of the new church plant. It’s important to choose your team wisely.

Journey Church’s original team of 26 has transformed from a launch team to several ministry teams of key leaders who help facilitate every aspect of the ministry. They are 100% committed to the vision and the ministry We still get together on a regular basis to plan, to dream, to manage, and yes, to have fun. The DNA of Journey was set as a very relational church in those early days, and now with many more people than our original 26, it is still the case. It will also be the case for your church as well, as you take the time to invest in, and serve the people God’s sends to help you launch your church.

I believe the greatest churches are still yet to be built.