Home Glossary


Definition of Terms:

Here are some of the most common terms one encounters when talking about new church starts. If there is a term you'd like clarified, please let us know!

Book of Discipline: This fundamental book outlines the law, doctrine, administration, organizational work and procedures of The United Methodist Church. Each General Conference amends The Book of Discipline and the actions of the General Conference are reflected in the quadrennial revision. Often referred to as The Discipline.

Church Planter: This is the specific leader who is entrusted with the responsibility of starting a new church. In a Connectional New Church Start, he or she is the person who is appointed by the conference to start the church. In a Parenting New Church Start, this is the person who works on behalf of the parenting congregation to start the new work.

Coach: A specific person (usually paid) with experience and skills in congregational development who continually holds the planter and the launch team to the vision in their decisions. Learn more about Path 1 recommended coaches here.

Discipleship System: The way a congregation connects all aspects of its ministry into a process that moves people from unbelief, to faith in Jesus Christ, to spiritual leadership and maturity. Its what the local church develops and implements that moves people from before (disconnected to God and the local church/non-Christian/unbeliever, etc.) to after (fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ/spiritual leader/disciple, etc.).

Disciple-Making Faith Community: A faith community whose primary focus is to engage newcomers in such a way that they become active Christians in their local church and community.

Faith Community: When a congregation intentionally connects its worship life with a discipleship process so that it becomes a disciple-making faith community.

Launch: The first day when a new church or an existing congregation offers a new weekly worship experience that is tied to a discipleship process.

Mentor: A specific person (not paid) who is respected, trusted and selected by the planter as a sounding board and/or source of experience and encouragement.

Network of Congregational Developers: A group of staff with primary responsibility in Congregational Development in Annual Conferences who meet together for support and to resource the United Methodist Church denomination for new church development.

New Congregations: New Congregations are newly organized faith communities that are committed to making disciples of Jesus Christ and involve more than a mission project, a new worship service, or the construction of a new building. Learn more about the characteristics of new congregations here.

Path I Team: A United Methodist denominational team made up of representatives from the Council of Bishops, the Network of Congregational Developers, Discipleship Ministries, The General Board of Global Ministries, The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, United Methodist Communications, church planters, and the five national ethnic plans. The Path I team has responsibility for developing and implementing a national strategy for new church development in the United States.

Post-launch: A new phase of ministry that happens after the launch of weekly worship that focuses on offering weekly experiential worship and connecting people to the discipleship process.

Pre-launch: The work that is done in preparation for the launching of a new faith community including understanding the context of the community, the casting of a vision, the development of a discipleship process, and the creation of the weekly worship experience that will be offered. Usually a six to fifteen month process depending on the context and the strategies that are used. Learn more about the seasons of church planting here.

Preview Service: When a new church or an existing congregation offers a once a month worship experience as a way to build momentum for the launch of a new faith community.

Supervisor: In The United Methodist Church, the supervisor is the District Superintendent (DS), NOT the coach, mentor, or counselor. The DS supervises pastors' spiritual care, employment, deployment, and District funding (as per The Book of Discipline).

Turn-Around Congregation: A congregation who has been in decline over a number of years who implements a strategy to become a disciple-making faith community that engages the people in its community to become active followers of Jesus Christ.

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