Scouting the Land: Tips for Fact-Finding Trips

“How did you find which city to plant in?”

“Of all the cities in the U.S., how did you choose this city?”

Those are some of the most common questions we get from potential church planters.

Dave Folkerts is the Pastor of Calvary Chapel Melbourne, Florida and he also serve as the CCPN core leader for Central Florida. He’s had 8-10 guys from their church planting group leave recently on fact finding trips, so he compiled a list of things they’re doing on their trips as a way to help others who are still in the beginning stages. Read through the list below, then make sure to pass this on to someone who may find it useful.

1. Talk to 3-4 pastors in the area.

Try to have one of them be a CC pastor closest to the target area. Learn about previous church planting efforts, culture of the people, and any insights on the area. Most of the pastors have been very supportive and cooperative. If you encounter a pastor who appears closed to the idea of a new church or is “concerned about competition,” help them to understand that you are seeking to reach the lost and enhance God’s kingdom–not build upon another man’s foundation.

2. Talk to city managers and chamber of commerce leaders.

Get a feel for the city, future growth areas, demographics etc. These have people have been very open and helpful.

3. Visit with people in local cafés, reastaurants, and even in bars.

The local people have been very open to share about their community. Find out about schools, interests, what makes the community special, and perceived needs. Find out the community’s views towards: God, the gospel, the Bible, and the need for a different kind of church where the Bible is taught, love is genuine, and that have a balanced view of the work of God’s Spirit.

4. If there is a Christian bookstore, ask the manager about the spiritual climate of the area.

They know a lot about the different churches and needs.

5. We try and study the area to see if there are other churches in the area that are teaching God’s Word with grace similar to the CC philosophy of ministry and theology.

We don’t want to plant in the shadow of someone else with a similar ministry. Our guys want to plant where people are not being fed or reached with the Gospel.

6. Does there seem to be a good fit between the community and the planter [and his family].

For example if the pastor is looking for an urban or metro area, a suburban, or even a rural area can he see he and his family assimilating into the community? Also, is there a good fit with the planter’s passions? For example, If you want to reach the next generation you may need to be near a college campus or an urban area.

7. They try to do this in various communities seeking God for direction as they go into a community.

Sometimes the direction is not here. When God closes a door it is still direction.

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