Backyard Church Planting Lab

If you believe God is calling you to start a house church but you don’t know where to start, this is the place for you. This page will walk you down a pathway toward planting a house church that is aligned with biblical principles, is impactful to the community, and has the potential to reproduce to more house churches.

If that interests you, let’s get started.

There are three components of what you will find in the pathway.

  1. Information/resources (how to do it)
  2.  Community: connect with others who are planting house churches (Join our Facebook Community of other planters)
  3. Coaching: if you need further assistance beyond the information and community, get some individual or group help (Contact Matt Dabbs for more information)

Becoming a Backyard Church?

We are open handed in giving out the information to get started. You can receive this information and launch out on your own. It is also helpful to be in a network so that you aren’t out there doing it alone. If you would like to become a Backyard Church (use of our logo, get your location on our website, etc) then you can let us know and we will work on that with you. That is not a requirement for moving forward but it is something you can look into if that interests you.

Step 1 - Discern Your Calling

If you have ever watched American Idol you know there are people who feel they should be singing in front of the world who should not be singing in front of the world. Not everyone needs to be a church planter. You also don’t have to be a “super Christian” to be a church planter. God calls all kinds of people to plant churches.

Before you start, you will enter into a process of discovery to make sure church planting is something God is calling you into. Here are the steps:

  1. Prayer (personal and corporate)
  2. Conversation with others
  3. Biblical understanding (what you are committing to and counting the cost)

You can download the Step 1 Discernment Guide here.

Step 2 - Setting the Foundation

Jesus is the leader. You are not. At the same time, when God calls you to plant a church you are an example for others to follow. It is important that you get your house in some order on the front end. This takes some time. There is no set amount of time to do this. That is between you and God. You also cannot wait until you are perfect to get started – you would never start!

Like Step 1, please do this in community with others. If you have some local partners who can help you get started you will have a much more solid start than doing this by yourself.

Here is how you can set the foundation of your own spiritual formation and growth to plant a house church – You can download the Step 2 Setting the Foundation Guide here.

Step 3 - Establish A Prayer Team

Prayer has to be part of everything you do. When you need to make a decision – pray. When you are going to invite someone – pray. When you are out in the community – pray. Pray about everything and have others pray alongside you. Pray for Sunday. Pray for fruit from prayer walks. You get the idea. You cannot pray enough or have enough people praying for you in real time.

You can download the Step 3 Prayer Team Guide here.

Step 4 - Prayer Walking


We are called to go where the people are, not ask them to come where we are. Jesus didn’t stay in one place. He was on the move, interacting with people. Jesus also sent out his disciples to minister to people. When we prayer walk, we engage the community, neighborhood, and areas of influence with the good news about Jesus through prayer and conversation.

You can download the Step 4 Prayer Walk Guide here.

Step 5 - Access Ministry

Access ministry is a way to show people you are present and that you are meeting a need in the community.

You can join something already established (pre-existing non-profit work) or start something new.

Let’s say you are reaching into a specific neighborhood. As you talk with the neighbors you find out that a lot of the children don’t have English as their primary language. You could begin to volunteer to teach the children English.

It is very important that you don’t show up in a way that makes it about you, because it isn’t. We start with loving presence, just like Jesus did.

You can download the Step 5 Access Ministry guide here.

Step 6 - Find A Person of Peace

This comes from Luke 10 when Jesus sends his followers out to proclaim the good news and heal the sick. He tells them to look for a person of peace. A person of peace is someone who will connect you with the community. They are open and receptive. They may or may not come to faith (hopefully they do) but they are agreeable to you and your presence in the community. One person of peace can open you up to more relationships that you could create in years of work.

People of peace may be found through prayer walking, access ministry or just a friendly conversation on the sidewalk.

You can download the Step 6 How to Find a Person of Peace guide here.

Step 7 - Invitation to Discover

Jesus was great at invitations. Sometimes he would invite people to follow him (Mark 1:16-20) and other times Jesus would invite himself over (Luke 19:5). But the greatest invitation is the invitation to come and follow Jesus (Matt 4:19-20),

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.”

Embedded in that simple invitation is the definition of a disciple. Jim Putman may have been the first to point this out in his book DiscipleShift, that a disciple is someone who is:

  1. Invited by Jesus (Come, follow me)
  2. To be changed by Jesus (I will make you)
  3. To be on the mission of Jesus (fishers of people)

We are called to invite people to follow Jesus. This is the first step to making disciples. People don’t follow us, they follow Jesus. We point people to Jesus and we walk together on that journey.

You can download the Step 7 Invitation to Discover guide here.

Step 8 - Start Prayer/Study Groups

We don’t start by planting a church. We start by planting a prayer and Bible study group. Just like you first met some of the people on an encouraging prayer walk, you invite people to come and pray with you at a set time in the neighborhood/community. We choose to meet outside so that others can see we are there. This is the blessing of presence. We want people to see us there and know God is doing something. This allows people to know they can join in and helps us meet more people than we would meet if we met inside a house, apartment, or dorm.

You can download the Step 8 Start A Prayer/Study Group Guide here.

Step 9 - Discipleship

We are teaching people to fall in love with Jesus and follow Him. This is not about creating church attenders. This is about creating a community of disciples who make disciples who start new churches. There are a number of resources we are going to share with you on this step that will help equip you to be a disciple who makes disciples.

You can download the Step 9 Discipleship Guide here
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Step 10 - Becoming a Church

As the group grows closer to Jesus and to each other and as people turn their lives over to Jesus (conversion through discipleship) eventually this study and prayer group becomes a church! There will be some adjustments made to the organization of the group to move forward as a committed body of believers who have a vision for reaching new people and starting new churches.