Ed Stetzer had a great post on Friday about trends in church planting. Below, are a some of my own observations to add to his:

Trend #1 – More Church Planting.

Like Ed, I started a new church in 1991. I remember Christians who had been in church their whole life asking me, “can you do that?” (Often followed by, “Are you crazy?”) I realize my own perspective is biased by spending my time in the church planting world – I have no doubt there is more church planting now than there was then. That’s not just a good thing – that’s a game changing thing.

Trend #2 – Growing Diversity in the ways people are planting churches.

I know this is true because I work with these leaders every day. Our most recent Online Cultivate cohort includes suburban and urban planters. Large start plans and house church plans. Funded vocational planters and bi-vocational guys who are really getting it done. Our critical measure of success isn’t how fast or how large a church grows – rather how effective it is in make disciples of those who are far away from God.

Trend #3 – Local churches are becoming the engine for church planting.

ELI is a great example of this. ELI began with one church, Gateway Community Church in Austin, TX but is now a network of leaders and churches in multiple countries on several continents planting churches. We are partnering with denominations, and greatly appreciate what they are able to do, but the engine of church planting is leaders reproducing leaders and churches reproducing churches. That’s happening in our network.

Trend #4 – A growing excellence in systems for church planting.

When I started church planting in 1991 I was recommended Peter Wagner’s Church Planting for a Greater Harvest. (I still have it on my shelf, dog-eared, highlighted and underlined) About a year in, I attended a 1 day training with Bob Logan based on the Church Planters Toolkit. Honestly, that’s all I, and everyone else in my church planting circle, knew about. It’s a whole new world. Since Ed didn’t plug ELI in his post – a little shameless self-promotion of our systems.

Church Planter Profiles is a tool that helps leaders discern their aptitude and readiness for church planting. It is used by over 90 churches, networks and denominations and over 2500 potential church planters every year. ELI’s Cultivate Training provides 8 months of online training preparing leaders to start, grow and multiply a new church out of the culture.

Church planting has come a long way in the last 20 years – I’m excited to see were God takes us in the next 20!