Planting 1,000 Churches in Your Lifetime

Churches need to be planted and then quickly need to plant other churches.

In order to start a movement and plant 1,000 churches in your lifetime, you need to think about church planting through the lens of rabbits and elephants. Years ago, I remember preaching at a conference where I felt like the odd man out. It was like that song from Sesame Street, “One of these things is not like the others…” The conference was on church planting, but it seemed like every speaker had started a church that had grown to at least 5,000 people—and some 25,000.

When it was my turn to preach, I decided to shoot straight and say it like it was. “Now listen. This is probably not what you’re going to experience when you plant a church. When you drove onto this campus, you drove on four lane roads called ‘Purpose Drive’ and ‘Saddleback Parkway.’ When you got out of your car, people greeted you and music was playing in the background. And now look, you’re with 5,000 people in this room.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t want to deter your faith. I don’t want to be
 that guy. But I need to be honest with you. This here can actually distract you from what God has called you to do. If you’re not careful, this conference can become ministry pornography for you—an unrealistic depiction of an experience that you’re never going to have, and one that distracts you from the real and amazing thing.”

As long as your goal is to plant a single, solitary elephant church like Saddleback, you’ll never get to 1,000 churches in your lifetime. We need more rabbits, without dismissing the elephants. (The Saddleback “elephant” has planted lots of churches, too.)

Yet, for a movement, we need rapid reproduction, not slow addition. …

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