Toward Viral: What Exponential Growth Might Look Like: The Summit Church
The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham has been planting churches in both North America and Internationally since the beginning. Over the years they have planted 23 churches in North America and 47 churches internationally. They have recently made an intentional shift in strategy to be a sending church. This means they will train a planter and send him out with 20+ people to plant a new church in a new city.
Their strategy is to plant multiplying churches by raising lead planters, training them, and sending them out with a team of people from our church. They identify potential church planters and putting them in a leadership development pipeline. At the end of that, most will go through a 9-month residency where they remain on staff while being trained to plant, refining their vision, raising money, building a team, and developing a strategy before they're sent out.
The Summit Church has a different strategy for their International plants. Most of their International church plants are among unreached people groups. The strategy is to send out missionaries from the church that will live and work among these people with the goal of sharing the gospel, making disciples that make disciples. They try to find and train indigenous leaders to plant indigenous, self-replicating churches. The pastors identify potential International church planting leaders about a year from when they're ready to go to the field and take them through a yearlong training process, and then in most cases they send them out in teams that operate like small house churches.
Financially, The Summit Church devotes 16.2% of our budget is dedicated to missions. For their North American plants The Summit provides a residency and 3 years of financial support. They invest about $100K in each church they plant. They also encourage our planters and anyone who commits to their team to begin directing their tithe to the plant as soon as they join the team. Because most people sent out are committed givers, if they send out a team of 20 that's typically $50K+ in giving that they send out. Internationally they financially support all of their missionaries at some level and many of the teams.
The Summit sacrifices their leadership, talents, and people to see these new churches survive. A former staff person leads most of the churches planted, and they take some of their best people with them. One of their plumb lines is that they send their best people. They have sent some of their best campus pastors, elders, associate pastors, and small group leaders. Over the years they have sent out 230 people with their North American plants, 185 people with their International teams, averaging 20 people a plant in North America over the past 4 years.
The Summit Church has a goal to plant 1000 churches in this generation. To do this are planting about 3-4 churches a year, and plan to double that in the coming years to reach their goal. They have also launched a network to help them partner with the churches they have planted, and to help continue in their efforts of planting 1000 churches in this generation.