Church Transplanting vs Church Planting

The words church planting have been buzzwords in Christian circles in the last few years. It has become trendy for churches to plant new churches in some part of the world or even on the other side of town.

From watching churches plant new churches, the latest craze is to take a sizable group of people ranging anywhere from 15  to 100 people from the current church and send them out to plant a church somewhere else. If you ask me, from a UK perspective that’s already a large church even before the church plant opens for business!

Is this really church planting?

I think it is more accurate and honest to label the latest trend as church transplanting rather than church planting for several reasons.

Point #1: For starters, it doesn’t do any justice to church planters who are actually planting church communities without the aid or support of church organistions and without  a group of people to begin with. In some ways, it feels like cheating.

Point #2: Often times when a church sends out a team of people to plant a church on the other side of town, they usually end up transplanting their brand of church and Christianity to their new location (By the way, is this the 21st century version of colonialism in church land?).

Instead of throwing some seeds out into the wild and see how the new church will grow and take shape in light of its new environment (a.k.a. being missional), they split a small piece of the existing plant and trans-pot it into its new environment. There is nothing organic or natural about the process.

Point #3: Church communities that are transplanted are backed and sent by churches that are usually loaded with money. And churches with money usually have clout to go along with it.

There are lots of people out there who are planting church communities out in the wild without the backing of a church and with little or no money whatsoever. And because they have little or no money, most of us will never get to hear about them because those with money are usually heard the loudest.

These are just some of the differences between church planting and church transplanting. I’m sure we can come up with some more differences. I’m not knocking either streams of church planting or church transplanting.There are pros and cons that needs to be considered for both methods. It begins with an honest look at the way we understand missions and start local church communities.

There needs to be a distinction that respects the work of both streams.


1st Image: Photo by Unknown. Lifted from here.

2nd Image: Photo by Unknown. Lifted from here.

3rd Image: Photo by Unknown. Lifted from here.

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6 Responses to Church Transplanting vs Church Planting

  1. Justin April 11, 2011 at 3:12 pm #

    Man, great words Rob! I think the transplanting process is very dangerous to cultures everywhere. Your colonialism reference is sharp and accurate. I’m not sure what the pros are of Church transplanting??? Nope, can’t think of any besides: its easier and more comfortable for those doing it 🙂 Oh yeah, all that money helps in the proselytizing process with supplies.

    • Rob Schellert April 11, 2011 at 10:27 pm #

      Hey Justin!

      Thanx for your comment!

      I’m not so sure about the pros of Church Transplanting either.. But I wanted to be gracious and give the benefit of a doubt on that one and see if anyone could offer some pros about it.

  2. vickie April 11, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

    I might be a bit biased but love this!

  3. Craig Tucker April 13, 2011 at 8:30 am #

    First and foremost i would like to say- ROB SCHELLERT- U R A LEGEND! Im really looking forward to reading more of your blogs!!!

    Ok, so this was an interesting blog for me to stumble across.
    My church, Kingfisher, is a non-denominational church. The pastor was an anglican vicar, but realising that his church was not missional, realised that, with the help of 12 people, he needed to start a new church.
    Its mission is to reach lost people and see them transformed into fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

    With all this in mind, after 6 years of going strong and growing, they planted (or transplanted!) a church in malawi. This happened as there was a build up of relationships with some people there, etc etc etc. There is now a few kingfisher churches in malawi, and a Bible college.

    Two years ago, me and my wife planted/transplanted a church in the area we live, still in the same county as the first church.

    Our main church does not have much money at all, (to go against that stereotype 😉 ) but we genuinely felt that this is what God wanted us to do, he even gave us the location!

    In regards to the cheating comment. True, we havent truly started from scratch, but in some ways, we are in a harder position, having to be a independant church, but working with the original church as well. We have had some serious hardships and spiritual battles in the last two years, so although it may not appear as hard to those really starting from scratch, it still is VERY difficult!

    As for the idea of planting a new church and seeing how it goes, or transplanting a new church a forcing it into an area, well my wife had planted/transplanted a church before our current one, into an area. With this example, it didnt fit! So the church was relocated to where we are now.

    Anyway i feel i may be deteriorating with my arguement, i have just woken up!!!

    Thanks for listening! and i hope it sounded less like the rant of a mad man, and more a reasoned response! 😀

    • Rob Schellert April 13, 2011 at 9:42 am #

      Hey Craig!

      Thanx for your reply.. Your thoughts from your perspective adds a much needed dimension to the discussion!

      I would probably think that 12 is a reasonable number to start with. It isn’t that big of a group in most scenarios.

      I would say that maybe you guys are in the grey zone – meaning not quite church planting but also not quite church transplanting – a mixture of both? I say this because a) you with a group of other people are sent out by a church (although small compared to others, b)started with little or no money like most church plants), c) Kingfisher church is a particular brand of Christianity (like most church transplants)..

      I find your words

      “With this example, it didnt fit! So the church was relocated to where we are now.”

      very interesting. You said it didn’t fit. With that I have to ask, is this because the particular brand/way of doing church,etc is more important than local people in the area? If its about people, then maybe we need to keep trying different things to see what works with people?

      Not having a go at you 🙂

      • Craig Tucker April 13, 2011 at 9:52 am #

        lololol!!! Can i just say im epically loving this convo!!! You need to get ur butt down to glouceter so we can have a proper convo on all things church!!

        Ok, basically let me give you some details. I wasnt there at the time, i was at LST with some awesome peeps 😉 But yea, my wife planted a church in an area. It was in a school, and completely open to the community and its needs. However, the community were completely closed off. They had no interest whatsoever in church. obviously, we didnt focus on getting bums on seats, but were focused on community work, serving the community, etc.
        It is true, maybe it was the brand. Maybe they would have benefited from a high anglican church on the doorstep. But then thats a grey area of maybes. Kingfisher is a church for all, especially for those, like your self, and your heart, for those who are looked down upon.

        I think, we also have to realise that some people have heard all about church, and still decide to not be a part of it.


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