Church Planting Autopsy

Episode 670: Not all church plants survive and thrive. Ed Stetzer talks with Michael Crawford and Clint Clifton about the various reasons plants can fail and what planters can learn from “autopsies” of those efforts.

In This Episode, You’ll Discover:

  • The role unrealistic expectations can play in a church plant failure
  • Why an exciting vision doesn’t ensure success
  • The importance of planter and spouse being aligned in the mission
  • Why sometimes it’s good for a church plant to shut down
  • The value of shifting strategy and structure when things aren’t working out

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Sharable Quotes (#NewChurches):

One of my church planters was in Indiana and his family was from South Carolina. Culturally that was a big shift for his wife, and she actually at one point said to him, “I’m going back to South Carolina. I hope you’re going with me.” So they weren’t aligned. @EdStetzer

Any place you come to plant, there’s cultural misalignment and we want people to be and think like missionaries in that cultural context. But I think for a lot of people it’s kind of jarring how big of a deal it is. The cultural fatigue wears down the planter. @EdStetzer

Expectations matter so much in terms of your view of how fruitful and successful you are. @ClintJClifton

I’ve worked with planters who’ve seen ministry start and people get saved – but it’s time to shut the church down. And they feel like it’s a complete failure. But those people who got saved aren’t failure. The people you equipped and sent out, that’s not failure. That’s success.Michael Crawford

Sometimes the planter thinks they are a bigger part of the overall equation than they actually are. Sometimes they think they’re the linchpin but they’re actually holding it back. @ClintJClifton

Can God use failure? We know the answer is yes; we know redemptive history. So if we’re humble we can say, “Why?” and “What can we learn from that?”Michael Crawford

The difference between a successful planter and a non-successful planter is that a successful planter knows how to overcome obstacles and shift and pivot.Michael Crawford


Published May 31, 2022

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