Strategic Church Planting: Your Master Plan

Once you’ve heard God’s personal call to plant a church that impacts the world for His Kingdom, the wrestling begins. God, did I hear you right?  Where do I plant?  How will we raise the funds?  Doubts, fear and lack of clarity can delay or even stall your church plant. After much prayer, one of the best steps you can take to bring clarity and action to your calling is to develop a Master Plan.

A Master Plan is simply a long-range strategy for achieving your objective. Once created, it becomes a treasured tool for sharing your church plant with potential partners. Whether someone is considering joining your launch team or supporting you financially, they want to see your strategy, your budget and your timeline. Every time you cast vision to a potential partner, you’ll hand them a copy of your Master Plan.

Writing Your Master Plan

Great clarity comes when you write out your Master Plan.  A prayer-covered, well-written Master Plan will include the basic elements: church name, your family picture and bio, information about the community, and a launch date. Appealing layout, photos and colorful images are a vital part your Master Plan and help tell your story. In addition, your Master Plan will:

  • Demonstrate a Clear Calling.  A church Master Plan is largely based on God’s individual calling on you and the location you are called to.  Potential partners want to know:  WHY a new church? WHY here? WHY you?  Your calling is foundational to these three questions, so you must answer them by clearly stating, “The Lord has called me to plant a church in….”
  • Communicate Vision. When God wants to impact a city through a new church plant, He will tap you on the shoulder and place a vision in your heart.  You will know when this happens.  Bruce Wilkinson once said, “When you find the vision for your life, you won’t take hold of it; it will take hold of you.”  It’s true.  A vision is unique to you and will capture your heart and life.

When communicating vision, state the need along with a clear strategy and a projected outcome: “95% of our city is lost, unchurched and without the influence of life-giving, gospel-centered churches. We want to impact eternity through a new church in this community that loves God, loves people and shares the hope found in Jesus Christ.” In other words, communicate the passion, vision and strategy that will move potential partners to action.

  • Express Core Values. You can’t fake core values because they are what you truly believe and value deep down.  Compile a short list of core values that resonate with your heart and vision. Core values guide who you are and what you do. They bring clarity to what matters most and stop you from getting lost or detoured on the journey. Teach them, quote them, and speak of them often. They are the non-negotiables for your church. Translate them into easily quotable phrases and then live them!
  • Explain Your Purpose.  A purpose statement rises out of your vision and core values. The development process itself is vital and helps you clarify your purpose, your understanding and vision for the church. When stated briefly and simply, the purpose statement becomes more powerful and memorable.
  • Define Your Community.  Research the demographics of your location. Learn all you can about the people, their needs, values, culture, political and social makeup and how and where they spend their time. What you learn will not only help you develop your launch strategy, but help you in the years to come as you plan your teaching, promotion and overall ministry strategy.
  • Provide a Timeline.  Include a detailed timeline for the first 18 months. This is a milestone action plan to get you from where you are now through launch and beyond. The best starting point is to envision your launch day. What do you see?  When is the best launch date?  Work backward and forward from the date, detailing the actions required. Then simply put dates to each action, developing a schedule or timeline that supports your launch and the months following. Your timeline will help prevent your plan and vision from jumping off the track.
  • Incorporate Your Budget.  Developing a launch plan and timeline will help you determine the funds needed to support your plan. Four specific areas of focus are operating, staffing, equipment and marketing. Remember, your start-up/prelaunch budget will differ from your normal operating budget. Once your budget is compiled, your Master Plan will be a valuable vision tool for raising funds.

Once you’ve worked through the elements, organize them into a document that is visually appealing and easily read. A few tips to make your Master Plan more effective:

  • Include pictures and graphics depicting the city and community.
  • Don’t overload with text. Leave white space to make text easily read.
  • Create budget and timeline to stand out graphically.
  • Limit length to ten pages.

A strong Master Plan will draw potential partners and will help you remain focused on God’s unique purpose for His new church as it influences the community for the Kingdom.  For sample Master Plans, visit

Ron Sylvia

About Ron Sylvia

Ron Sylvia is the founding and lead pastor of Church at The Springs in Ocala, Florida, and Director of NEXT Churches. The Springs began in an office building in 1994 with only 21 people and now with three locations averages over 3,500 in weekly attendance. While leading a fast-growing church, Ron learned firsthand the value of mentoring & coaching. As a result, Ron started NEXT Churches, an organization that equips lead pastors nationwide. Ron and the NEXT team have coached hundreds of church planters & pastors to start & lead healthy churches. Ron also leads networks with Intentional Churches helping build Intentional GrowthPlans to help pastors think & act strategically in the local church. Ron is the author of Launching a Purpose Driven Church conference curriculum and authored his story and methods in the book, Starting New Churches on Purpose.

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