Church planting is the establishing of an organized body of believers in a new location. The process of planting a church involves evangelism, the discipleship of new believers, the training of church leaders, and the organization of the church according to the New Testament model. Usually the process also includes writing a church charter and/or doctrinal statement and finding a place to meet or buying property and erecting a new building.
Church planting is a specific focus within the larger work of “missions.” Church planters are missionaries who concentrate their efforts on preaching and teaching the Word of God. Other missionaries who specialize in certain skills may not be considered “church planters” officially, but they provide valuable service to those who are. Such supporting missionaries include radio broadcasters, aviators, printers, Bible translators, and medical personnel.
The ultimate goal of most church planters is to glorify the Lord in a community by founding an autonomous, self-propagating body of believers. Once this goal has been reached and the church is able to stand on its own, the church planter will usually move on to a different community and begin the process again.
The church-planting focus is biblical. As the apostle Paul traveled through an area, he always tried to spend enough time in each city to establish a local body of believers and train the leadership (Acts 14:21-23). Later, he would try to revisit those churches to confirm and encourage them in the faith (Acts 15:41; 1 Thessalonians 3:2). The churches he established would then begin to send out missionaries themselves, and so the work of church planting continued (1 Thessalonians 1:8).