Church Renewal and Church Planters

Written by Keith Doornbos
October 13, 2021

Church renewal and church planting have long been considered separate disciplines, but there are lessons from church planting that leaders need to embrace.

Church renewal and church planting have long been considered separate disciplines with their own skill sets leading to success.  Increasingly, however, church leadership observers are noting that the fundamental skills for planting and renewal are very similar.  If anything, renewal demands the larger number of ministry tools given the need to navigate institutional change, leverage congregational story and manage intergenerational relationships.  Still, there are emphases in church planting that renewal leaders need to embrace if they hope to turn-around legacy congregations.

Here are 7 emphases renewal leaders should replicate from church planters:

Emphasis 1:  Courageously Follow The Spirit’s Lead

Church planting is an adventure into the unknown where Spirit promptings are key to next step investments.  An open door, an unexpected conversation, an invitation to join someone on mission are ways in which the Spirit guides ministry.  Renewal demands the courage to embrace Holy Spirit spontaneity.

Emphasis 2:  Pray Prayers Of Dependence

Church planters launch and sustain ministry on the wings of prayer.  They understand their vulnerability to Satan’s attacks and their fragility created by limited resources.  Susceptibility creates deep and sustained prayers of dependence.  Renewal leaders should embrace a similar commitment to praying prayers for protection and provision.

Emphasis 3:  Live With A Sense Of Urgency

Church planters live with a sense of urgency.  They understand the short window of opportunity to clarify vision, build a team, establish sustainable practices and create missional momentum.  No day and no opportunity are wasted.  This same sense of urgency is key to turning around legacy congregations.

Emphasis 4:  Go Local

Church planters are always searching for new ways to connect with the neighborhood.  They establish relationships with next door neighbors, local public schools, local business leaders and police patrolling the streets.  Like Jesus, they live incarnationally.  Turn-around churches should share this passion.

Emphasis 5:  Focus On Gospel-Telling And Disciple-Making Ministry

Church planters keep the main thing the main thing.  Their goal is to proclaim the good-news of Jesus and raise up disciples who make disciples.  Free from the challenges of having to sustain a complex organization, church planters focus entirely on the transformational story of Jesus.  Renewal depends on a similar focus.

Emphasis 6:  Construct A Moving Sidewalk

Church planters know they have to build a moving sidewalk that helps those disconnected from faith and faith family become connected to faith and faith family.  Church planters have plans to move people along.  Legacy churches begin turning around when they, too, have plans to move people along.

Emphasis 7:  Connect The Gospel To Culture

By God’s design, the Gospel is intended to be contextualized. Central to the work of church planting is the contextualization of the Gospel to a particular people, living in a particular place at a particular time. Turn around leaders must also become fluent in the thoughts and the language of culture.


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