Planting on Purpose

By Sarah Cochran

Two pastors talk about their experiences as church planters.

Church multiplication is of high value as The Wesleyan Church seeks to have a transforming presence in every ZIP code. Following are accounts from a seasoned church planter and one new to the endeavor.

"Changed lives are our measurement."


Pastor Wayne Otto’s heartbeat is to make disciples and raise up other leaders to do the same. As a result, new churches have sprouted wherever his family has felt called to go. Otto and his wife, Amy, have planted new congregations for over 20 years. Their present calling is at Providence Wesleyan Church in the Charleston, South Carolina, area.

“Growth is not without struggle, but difficult is not our measurement,” said Otto. “Changed lives are our measurement.”

Is there a specific key value to build into a church’s DNA early on?

The idea of a “go and tell” versus a “come and see” church in order to reach the unchurched. Planting is a part of the outflow of a normal witness (e.g. Peter after Pentecost, Phillip and the Ethiopian and Paul's four missionary journeys that resulted in churches being planted all throughout Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, Asia Minor, Rome and Europe). I want people to see and experience the power of one witness.

What are your top three focus areas when you first move to a new location to plant?

Reach unchurched people. Saturate the community with news of the new plant. Ask God to send workers who will be on mission.

Who do you talk to on a discouraging day in ministry?

Nobody. The worst part of my pathology (I use that word intentionally because I am pretty self-aware of how I'm wired) is I am alone too often. My fears, frustrations and disappointments are left between me and God. I do talk to Amy, and she is a huge support.

How has planting affected your family?

Positive. Positive. Positive. Three children, all love Jesus; two are in ministry and it wouldn't surprise me if the third ends up in ministry too. My daughter and son-in-law are one of the couples who will be planting out of Providence.

Can you share your greatest faith risk?

Moving 1,000 miles away to plant with zero people in an area (the South) that is so different than where we spent the first season of our life in the North. Then buying property and getting a mortgage of a million dollars when you have no people. Then trying not only to gather people, but have them take ownership of a debt that they didn't go through the process of dreaming about and praying for and sacrificing to make happen. We are almost there.

How can we pray for you?

We are in an exciting season of change and birth. Pray for a harvest of souls, people of peace and for God to rain down his favor and power on the South Carolina Lowcountry region. Our vision is to reach 10,000 people by planting 50 new churches in the Lowcountry.

"I believe Christ followers should be the greatest story collectors and storytellers on earth."


As college students, Spencer and Jordan Loman went “all in” when they realized their church planting call. Their first new church, United City Greensboro, Greensboro, North Carolina, launched September 10, 2017.

How did God prepare your heart for planting a church?

Church planting was in my blood. When I (Spencer) was six, my dad moved our family to Wilmington, North Carolina, to plant North Pointe Community. Once I got to Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana, I began to realize God had wired me with an entrepreneurial spirit, a desire to create and an overall sense of intrigue in new church work. It was an actual calling to step into the unknown and plant a gospel-centered community in an urban context.

What has surprised you about planting a church?

The most surprising thing is the amount of intricate details that go into actually planting a church. Everything from budget building, to understanding what type of space you can and cannot meet in, to assimilation. Also, I didn’t realize the importance of being intentional about everything you do relationally. Intentionality in relationships has been critical.

Have you faced any challenges in your first year of planting?

We have faced numerous challenges. Early on I felt the biggest one was to get people to shoulder the burden for the city with us. It requires constant vision casting and dreaming to begin to see a shift in culture. Also, being a bi-vocational church planter, managing time has been a challenge.

Is there a specific value that is key to build into a church's DNA early on?

The one thing that affects all things micro is culture—the set of values a group of people holds to. If you don’t understand how important and valuable culture is to your community, you won’t be able to have any values in the DNA. I feel often we jump directly to strategy and negate culture or see it as secondary. That is false. Culture is the single most important element in a community aside from the Holy Spirit. Certain things don’t fit our culture, so we don’t do those things even though strategically they make sense. Culture impacts the long term; strategy impacts the short term.

How do you train people on your team to share their faith with others?

Stories. I believe Christ followers should be the greatest story collectors and storytellers on earth. When we hear others’ stories, we usually can find at least one aspect that resonates with ours. When that takes place, it creates a point of relatability. When we find relatability, we then are at the final step before we can share how Christ has transformed our lives.

"I believe Christ followers should be the greatest story collectors and storytellers on earth."

How can we pray for you?

Pray that I can have continual and fresh revelation of God’s love for me as a child and not as a pastor. Pray that I love my wife in humility and self-sacrifice. Pray that United City would not simply grow to be a large church, but a church that impacts the culture of Greensboro.