Mission Field: USA

A flexible framework for Lutheran church planting

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s Office of National Mission is working with districts to assist in their church-planting efforts.

Church planting can be accomplished through mother congregations, sponsoring circuits or church-planting networks that may simply need support to get things started.

This initiative also seeks to help develop formal partnerships between struggling congregations — in the inner city and in rural areas — and healthy congregations that desire to help these ministries restart.

 Download informational brochure

Church Planting Training

A Resource for Church Planting is a theological and practical training resource for mission work, and it provides a foundation for what it means to be a Lutheran congregation.

It offers a step-by-step approach from forming a core group to becoming a fully established congregation in the LCMS.

Learn in a way that best suits you — through online learning modules or by reading an illustrated guidebook.

Mission Field: USA online learning modules

Online Learning

The Mission Field: USA online learning resource offers four 1-hour video and audio training modules.

The platform remembers your progress so you can come back to finish at your pace.

Start Learning

Church Planting Guidebook


A Resource for Church Planting is a step-by-step guidebook that uses Witness, Mercy and Life Together as the framework to help organize and nurture a new congregation.

Download Guidebook

Church Planting podcasts

Church planting podcasts

Starting a new church can be a daunting, even scary, task. The new Mission Field: USA monthly podcast series addresses the fears and obstacles in church planting by studying not just the “why” but the “how-to” of mission development.

Listen to podcasts on demand

Church Planting

New Programs

For those congregations wanting to start their own church plant, here is how to begin:

  • Training
  • In planting a Lutheran church, it is important to understand the distinctive characteristics and marks of Lutheranism.

    In his writing, “Church and Ministry III,” Luther gives seven marks and an outward sign that can be categorized under Witness, Mercy and Life Together.

    These are key to developing a core group that form into a Lutheran congregation:

    I. Witness: Possession of the Holy Word of God

    II. Life Together: The Holy Sacrament of Baptism

    III. Life Together: The Holy Sacrament of the Altar

    IV. Life Together: The Office of the Keys Exercised Publicly

    V. Life Together: Consecration or Calling Ministers

    VI. Witness & Life Together: Prayer, Public Praise, and Thanksgiving to God

    VII. Witness & Life Together: The Holy Possession of the Sacred Cross

    VIII. Mercy: The Christian Life of Loving Our Neighbor

    These areas comprise a firm foundation to use in the planning process for church planting, and they are a beneficial guide in forming a core group to charter a Lutheran congregation.

    This training enables the core group to use Witness, Mercy and Life Together as the framework for doing missions.

    Each of these emphases is taught in a separate module to help you be deliberate as you plan. Building a Life Together involves assembling a core group, developing unity in belief and practice, managing the administrative aspects of getting started, preparing to worship, and establishing fellowship, as this core group becomes the Body of Christ in this place.

    Witness to the new community will require a well-catechized congregation to speak the truth in love in their various vocations. In our skeptical society, knowledge of apologetics is becoming increasingly important. Creating an awareness of a new congregation coming into the community also will be important.

    So, too, Mercy will be an important aspect of the life of the church and also an instrument of outreach. The church plant will need to understand their community, find ways to be a good neighbor and reach out to others through human care.

  • Funding
  • In the city setting, there are typically large groups of international immigrants, multi-ethnic neighborhoods, extreme poverty and the like. Small towns and rural areas also have great human care needs.

    For new campus missions, the transient nature of the congregation and lack of mature giving creates similar challenges. But those who serve in the midst of these complex and challenging mission fields are also worthy of our support, including financially.

    A network support model may be needed for funding to ensure that there are adequately trained workers in the field along with the resources needed to reach out to their communities.

    The stark reality is that we are losing our footprint in cities and on our campuses, and, once our ministries are lost, it is virtually impossible to get them back.

    In many of our largest cities, we have a small handful of churches for populations rapidly outgrowing their suburbs. Therefore, we need a quick and lasting response with a clear Lutheran identity.

    Mission Field: USA Grants Available

    We have training and start-up funds available for those who wish to partner with us using our approach for Mission Field: USA.

  • Sending
  • The life cycle of sending national missionaries:


    Recruiting candidates to be national missionaries will involve seminary students, called pastors who are interested in domestic missions or the conversion of an existing, interested pastor to national missionary status.


    Identification of candidates who have the qualifications for planting churches and domestic missions. This may include a desire to serve in urban, Black, Hispanic, campus and rural settings for new starts.


    Our seminaries will have a mission formation track for students and service opportunities for future church workers in various settings. The LCMS will also help with training in the WMLT Church Planting Framework built upon Martin Luther’s Seven Marks of the Church.


    Synod will work with districts to place the worker in a location that is truly a mission and requires the Network Support Model (i.e. international, campus, poverty, etc.) Through the districts, we will also work with mother churches, sponsoring circuits or mission societies.


    We will need to orient the worker to be a domestic Network Support Model missionary to ensure their ability to develop a healthy network of support.


    Some missions will require an NSM model missionary for either the short term or for the long term. In partnership with our districts, new church plants will also need support for the costs associated with starting and to have the needed facilities for a church.


Current Programs

For those congregations wanting to be involved in an existing program, here are ways to get involved:

Project Sites

Learn how our national LCMS missionaries are bringing the Gospel to unchurched areas and populations across America through Mission Field: USA.
Learn More

Pilot Programs

The LCMS is using new programs to bring the Good News of Jesus to urban areas, rural areas, college campuses and small towns, and among people of different ethnicities.

Recent Articles & Stories

COP, BOD meet in St. Louis
Tuesday, March 28, 2023 9:10:31 AM

Mission boards look to convention
Thursday, March 2, 2023 2:53:44 AM

‘Mission Field: USA’ partners with the LCMS Southeastern District to bring Christ’s Gospel to Baltimore
Friday, March 6, 2020 8:19:03 AM

LCMS convention passes four National Witness resolutions by wide margins
Sunday, July 21, 2019 2:53:12 PM

Webinars, podcasts support urban mission, church planting
Tuesday, January 15, 2019 7:03:46 AM

This feed has 10 articles on 2 pages << < 1 2 > >>

LCMS Church Planting

Rev. Dr. Mark Wood

Rev. Dr. Mark Wood
Managing Director
Church Planting, Renewal, and Support


 888-843-5267 (THE LCMS)

LCMS Church Planting
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
1333 S. Kirkwood Road
St. Louis, MO 63122-7295


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The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Inc., including Mission Central (in Mapleton, Iowa), is an IRS registered 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charity.

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