The Four-Stage Development Model is a highly functional and strategic framework that has been guiding churches to do what Jesus wants them to do. Regardless of country, culture, geography or history, churches go through similar and predictable phases on their way to becoming healthy and reproductive.
Stage 1: Initiate
The church starts when workers bring the lost to Christ and plant local congregations. The goal is responsible disciples who evangelize and reproduce themselves. The church at Thessalonica in Greece started this way (Acts 17:1-9; 1 Thess. 1:1-10).
Stage 2: Nurture
The church grows stronger when leaders give practical Christian teaching and train more leaders. The goal is responsible, reproducing leaders who serve their families and the local church.
Stage 3: Expand
The national church organizes to govern and support itself and to do its own evangelism in a way that is sensitive to local cultures. The goal is responsible local congregations that plant other churches. Together they become a national church movement to reach the entire country. The church at Ephesus in Turkey developed and multiplied this way (Acts 19-20).
Stage 4: Send
The national church reaches out to people of other cultures and languages. The goal is responsible national churches that send and support workers who serve other cultures and countries, and create movements of their own. In obedience to the Holy Spirit, the church at Antioch in Syria became such a church when they sent Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:1-4).