That's like asking when a couple should consider having a baby. There are no precise guidelines or timeframes, but let me offer some considerations. A church-plant, like a child, is a blessing to the parent congregation. So, while we should exercise wisdom in deciding when to plant, be careful not to think simply in terms of what it will "cost" to give birth to a new church. Is there a price to pay? Absolutely! But losing some aspects of congregational life will result in new blessings for the old congregation.
The most important point of readiness is the availability of a discipling leader to pastor the fledgling flock. Without a ready pastor, it's impossible to plant a new church. Pastors who hope to plant churches should begin by discipling individuals. Intentionally developing future pastors costs nothing but time!
Second, the sending pastor must be ready to give sheep cheerfully. I told each of our church planters to "steal" my sheep. If they couldn't convince some of my followers to ...1