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Ed Stetzer: 5 Future Trends of Church Planting

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Today, I’m looking at 5 Future Trends of Church Planting. If you’re a new planter, first starting the process, or still praying it through, I hope this is helpful to you.

In my research role, I’m always taking in data and observing practices and trying to note patterns and trends. This is challenging and fun at the same time. I also see it as informational, as noting trends help churches and Christians see what is current, what practices are working or not working, what we are dealing with, where we are, and where we are headed.

Thom Rainer has stated, “Trend prediction is both an art and a science.” The science is the data and the art is the practice. And by putting the two together we can see current trends and predict future movement.

With culture seemingly changing at the speed of light, church planters (and those who train and support them) cannot be over-aware of the trends new churches will face. Here are five things we are seeing now and will continue to see as we move further along in 21st century post-Christian America.

Each trend has a brief caution—not to indicate that I do not affirm much of the trends—but to acknowledge possible unintended side effects to consider.

Becoming more technical and strategic.

When I planted my first church in Buffalo, NY, there were no church planting assessments for me to take or boot camps for me to attend. In fact, not many resources were available on the subject of church planting. But that has certainly changed over the past 25 years.

Now there are myriads of books, articles, websites, networks, associations, and denominations putting out information on church planting. If you plan on planting through a network, association, and/or denomination you must prepare yourself to be assessed, trained, coached, and mentored. I am grateful for the strides many have made to invest in church planters and help prepare them for the challenges that they will face. However, I have two particular cautions associated with this trend.

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Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., is a professor and dean at Wheaton College where he also serves as Executive Director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, has earned two master’s degrees and two doctorates, and has written hundreds of articles and a dozen books. He is Regional Director for Lausanne North America, is the editor-in-chief of Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited in, interviewed by, and writes for news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He is the Founding Editor of The Gospel Project, a curriculum used by more than 1.7 million individuals each week for bible story. His national radio show, Ed Stetzer Live, airs Saturdays on Moody Radio and affiliates. He serves as interim teaching pastor of Calvary Church in New York City and serves as teaching pastor at Highpoint Church.