The Changing Role of Church Planters

Erich Baumgartner (Leadership)

The Changing Role of Church Planters in the Life Cycle of a New Church Plant

The role of a church planter is multi-faceted and unique. First, the church planter ventures out with a team with a vision of faith. As the church plant attracts members new needs emerge that have to be addressed. Successful growth often means growing pains that require new solutions and new skill sets the original planter may not have but needs to develop. Thus new church plants, like new business ventures, go through an organizational life cycle from a new venture to a mature congregation.

Each stage of growth requires considerable adjustments in the role of the church planting leader/entrepreneur with often contradictory skill sets. This is one of the reasons why few church planters are able to manage these required role transitions successfully. Even though growth pains are mentioned in the literature (e.g.: George & Bird, 1993; Warren, 1995) little reliable research has been done to shed light on these role transitions experienced by church planters in their leadership.

The purpose of this study is to understand and document the actual role changes church planters are experiencing as their congregation is growing from a new church plant to a mature and self-propagating church taking into account various contextual variables. This qualitative study will partner with successful Adventist church planters in metropolitan areas in the US in order to document the changing patterns of leadership experienced in the first five years of growth.