Last week I led a couple of breakout sessions at the Acts 29 South-Central Conference on becoming a church-planting church. Below are some of my notes. If you are a pastor, planter, or future planter and want to talk more about becoming a church-planting church I’d love to hear from you.
1.Ask the Holy Spirit for a Unique Church Planting Vision…
Church planting is the Holy Spirit’s idea and he is the church planting expert (see Acts 13:1-3). Ask him for a unique church planting vision for your church. “We want to be a church-planting church” is a weak vision. The Holy Spirit always leads us to specific people and places. Ask him for a specific, unique vision for church planting. Church planting can’t be the goal… reaching more people and cities with the gospel must be the goal. The Holy Spirit has called us at Redeemer to give our time, energy, and money to plant as many churches as we can in Central Texas (specifically the northern suburbs of Austin).
Consider: What is he uniquely calling you to as a church-planting church? Ask: What cities do we want to see churches planted? Identifying the city could lead you to a planter there. Ask: Who do we know that could plant a church there? Identifying the planter could lead you to a city.
2. Don’t wait until your an expert (or a large church)…
Set a church planting expectation early in the life of your church. What better way to train a future church planter than letting them see the early days of church planting along side of you. At Redeemer, we brought on our first church planting resident when we were only 40 people, 3 missional communities, and met on Sunday afternoons in a sweaty, old church building. We weren’t experts or impressive, but we knew what we had to offer, and we wanted to train and send out church planters. Here are a few other thoughts….
- Health is more important than size when it comes to preparing church planters
- You don’t have to be an expert… share what you have to give, and allow a resident or potential planter to give to you and your church
- There is a need for different types of residencies at different stages of your church (polishing school vs. developmental residencies)
- Small churches can serve and be served by a developmental resident. Our first two residents at Redeemer never went on to plant a church, but they were both developed and are leading in critical roles to this day.
- Large churches won’t have much opportunity or reps for a resident, so you only need to take on a guy within 12 months of planting for “polishing”.
Consider: What has God given us that we need to steward for church planting? Is it financial health, experience, leadership gifts, college students, facilities, reps?
3. Prioritize developing new leaders & multiplying communities (as much as you prioritize Sundays)
Early on in the life of a church plant the temptation is to put all of your focus on growing on Sundays. We often think we can’t do anything significant until we can get “critical mass”. I want to challenge you to prioritize developing leaders and multiplying communities from day one with as much focus as you put into growing numerically on Sundays. This will help you start and stay healthy, which will in turn help you multiply churches. A few things to think about as you do this:
- Develop a pathway of development from disciple to planter (Example: Leadership Pathway)
- this process must include learning communities, opportunities to lead within, and ongoing-personal development
- Don’t just train young leaders, empower and release them. Allow them to fail…they just might surprise you and blossom.
- Take inventory of your current focus as a church… what percentage of your leadership efforts (staffing, time, resources, energy, focus) are going toward growing Sundays vs. developing leaders and multiplying communities?
- You must give of your money, staff, and people to raising up leaders if you want to plant churches.
4. Partner with others…
Don’t try and plant churches by yourself. Work with others in your city that have a common vision. Collaboration is a beautiful thing. Know your strengths, admit your weaknesses and limitation, and lean into the strengths of other churches. God might ask some of you to pioneer collaboration in your cities. Tell some other churches in town that your church feels called to plant a new church, and invite them to join in on the work. Dream together, work together, train a resident together, support a planter together. As our kingdom work increases our kingdom interdependence should also increase. Ask for help so that you can spread the “church planting bug” to others. Perhaps most importantly, remember the “why” we are planting churches….not to add to your church’s resume or to build your brand…. but to see more people and more cities reached with the gospel.