Franchise Model for Church Plants

I own a Medicine Shoppe pharmacy.  Med Shoppe’s are franchises and in the years I have owned the store, I have come to see the many great aspects of the franchise model as well as the bad.  For the past few weeks, I have been working through in my mind how to take the franchise model and utilize it for church plants.

Now I am not naive enough to say that this is the end all solution or the next big trend.  I am also not saying that it is a perfect example, but rather an idea to think about as we work to grow churches and spread new plants across the state, nation and world.

I do realize there are some blatant obstacles right up front.  Because plants are designed to reach ‘indigenous people groups’  there is not a perfect box that we can fit everyone into.  There is no magic model that we can take everyone and try to force them into.  This is evidently clear as we see churches in other parts of the world.  Our Americanized church looks quite different from their church, and vice versa.

What then can we learn from the franchise model that will help our church planting efforts?

1. A franchise model is easy to duplicate.

While each church will have its own character and culture, there are a few things that we can take from a franchise model and duplicate across an operation.  By putting a process in place and duplicating that process, we can insure that new churches are being planted that will have a greater chance of success.  This process is not intended to create a box and make everyone try to fit, but rather, a system that allows for planning, development, launch and growth in a systematic way that has been time tested and proven to produce the intended results.

2. A franchise model offers planters a greater economy of scale.

One of the first things that comes to my mind when I hear the term franchise is the golden arches.  It would be difficult to find someone that has not heard about the company.  If you look at their sign, it often brags about their accomplishments, ‘over 1 billion served’.  As you drive down the road and see one red sign with golden arches disappear into your rear-view mirror, you will quickly see the next red and yellow sign down the road touting the same accomplishment.

What is it about the franchise model that makes it so appealing?  Three words – Economies of Scale. By utilizing a franchise system, the company is able to reduce their costs of distribution so low, they can provide their product at a price so low, and still make a profit.  How then can we apply this concept to church planting?

By using a franchise system, where we have an easily duplicated model, we can bring the costs of operations down to where the financial burden on a planter is greatly reduced.  I am sure most planters will find this news very appealing as they are seeking out sources of support.

3. A franchise model offers the ability to share resources.

A great aspect of a franchise model is the ability to share resources across the system.  Often, the cost of these resources will put them out of reach for an independent organization.  By deploying a franchise system, the cost or resources can be spread across the organization enabling the resources to be available in ways that otherwise would have been cost prohibitive.

One huge resource that could be available from (Shamless Plug!).  Our resources are designed to help churches by taking care of the administrative tasks of the organization.  Everything from bookkeeping and web design to answering the phone, we have systems designed to help.  Our system was designed to be easily duplicated while flexible enough to meet the needs of individual churches.

As you can see, there are many advantages in utilizing this model for church planting.  I welcome your comments, thoughts or experiences to help us refine this concept.