Church Planting

The goal of Mennonite Church USA church planting initiatives is to create and nurture missional peace churches — communities of people gathered together by Jesus whose life and witness reflects the gospel of peace and who are engaged in their local settings.

Mauricio Chenlo

Mauricio Chenlo, denominational minister for church planting, is a part of the Holistic Witness team which encourages an interwoven fabric of peacemaking, evangelism, justice seeking and church planting.

Mauricio works with area conferences, agencies, constituent groups, churches and individuals. He encourages church planters, conference ministers and missional leaders to learn from each other and identify resources and practices that enhance the denomination’s capacity. He is available for resourcing in the areas listed below. He speaks Spanish and English and many of the resources are available in Spanish as well. These resources have been collected—and continue to be collected—from various sources: area conferences, pastors, and denominational staff. Please be in touch with Mauricio if you have resources to share!


Save the Date!
SENT: Sent: A gathering of Mennonites planting Jesus-centered communities, April 6 – April 8, 2017, Fort Meyers, Florida.  Gather with more than one hundred Mennonite church planters and leaders involved in planting the seeds of God’s reign in many different contexts around our country. Click here for more information.


Contact Mauricio

Church Planting Resources

Save the Date!
March 31 – April 2, 2016 (note the date change). Church planters, coaches, pastors and leaders interested in church planting will be hosted by a Mennonite church plant in New Orleans. Click here for more information.


Assessments come in different shapes and sizes. There are some that involve a week of training and psychological testing, one-on-one interviews, group interactions and follow up meetings. Others are short and simple. The purpose, in either case, is to assist the potential church planter in clarifying a sense of calling and competency for the task. Access assessment tools online.

Conference ministers, church planters and coaches helped develop these brief Shared Theological and Missiological Commitments for Church Planting in Mennonite Church USA which make the claim that God’s primary strategy for impacting our world is by birthing and nurturing Jesus-centered kingdom communities. Available in English and Spanish.

Mauricio often gets phone calls from individuals and area conferences asking for advice on how to start a church plant. There are no cookie-cutter answers. But, any church plant, no mater how simple or sophisticated the vision, will benefit from a formal written proposal. In the proposal the leader/group spells out clear goals and action plans. The proposal helps the potential planter communicate vision and get the attention of potential “sponsors”.The following link offers various forms of proposals depending on models, contexts and types of leadership: Mauricio has also created forms to help you create your proposal. The first is a series of questions in English and Spanish to help you shape your proposal. The second is a form that helps you spell out your “new church plan.”If you are considering planting a church with Virginia Mennonite Conference or Virginia Mennonite Missions, you are invited to fill out this funding request form. For other funding opportunities, contact Mauricio.

“Coaches help people develop their God-given potential so they can grow personally and make a valuable contribution to the Kingdom of God…coaching is the hands-on process of helping people succeed.” (Steve Ogne)Coaching is a relational and intentional process that empowers leaders to discover where God is working in their lives and ministries, through discerning opportunities and developing action steps to see God’s agenda become reality. For more on coaching, check out these links:

In 2009, Mauricio conducted a survey called “The Barnabas Report”, which offers information from area conferences involved in planting churches. The landscape of church planting changes constantly, so to access the latest data on new projects contact your area conference, or check out this list of New Church Plants in Mennonite Church USA in the past five years (partial listing).

Some area conferences have created their own guidelines for initiating/launching new groups. Other conferences resist the idea of having guidelines because they think regulation might inhibit the “organic/Spirit led” nature of church planting. Mennonite Church USA doesn’t have a template or protocol that regulates church planting activities. Mauricio offers three examples here, the first from Virginia Mennonite Conference and the second and third from Mauricio.

  1. Guidelines from Virginia Mennonite Conference
  2. Church Planting Guide for Fresh Initiatives
  3. Church Planting Best Practices

We offer this simple tool that is useful in assessing if your church or group is ready for multiculturalism. If you are interested in researching more on this theme, Mauricio recommends the following website:

Some think that the very notion of “strategic planning” goes against the spontaneity of a Spirit Led initiative. But, even in the book of Acts you find leaders like Paul and Barnabas making strategic plans on how to move forward with God’s mission. Mennonite Church USA encourages any group thinking seriously about church planting to consider strategic planning and building capacity as key tools. Strategic plans can include: a launch team; small groups; finances; name and logo; a meeting place; worship; preaching; spiritual formation.

How relevant is theological identity to the formation of new churches? Many non-Anabaptist groups are telling Anabaptists that our witness is quite relevant to the current trends of our culture. As Anabaptist-Mennonites we are committed to planting missional peace churches. Mennonite agencies provide a rich variety of resources. For example, check out the Missio Dei series produced by Mennonite Mission Network

In 2008 a group of area conferences from the Atlantic coast had their first retreat for church planters. As part of their efforts to grow in missional cooperation, eight conferences engaged with church planters and coaches in launching a coordinated effort to promote church planting in their region.

Missional leaders in southern Argentina form scouting teams to explore possible new sites for spontaneous/self-started, organic, non-institutional groups. They organize regional teams and send them to different regions–sometimes quite isolated places in Patagonia. We are starting to explore this concept among some leaders in Mennonite Church USA. Read the Patagonia Story and be in touch with Mauricio for up-to-date developments.

APEST is a framework for ministry based on Ephesians 4:1-16. Several current practitioners and theorists of church planting argue that much of the church’s lack of engagement and imagination related to missional entrepreneurship is due to the lack of apostles, prophets, and evangelists. Alan Hirsch, one of the leading theorists on Apostolic Imagination and Practice, argues that these types of leaders aren’t being formed in the church. Check out the following link to learn more: Forgotten Ways.