Planting: Principles for Starting New Churches
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The homes where people live and do life together are where the best education happens. This is biblical. We continually repeat two key principles for mobilizing more people in ministry. We have to be more intentional and more creative when it comes to reaching each new generation of lost people. There are no notes in the New Testament. We have no idea what tunes they sang to—only that they sang praises to God. It presupposes that God favors one particular cultural tradition over another, and it makes a style more important that the heart of worship.
Their counsel has come through classes, formal coaching relationships, and one-off meetings or phone calls. Now, our church Immanuel Anglican in Chicago's diverse Uptown neighborhood has launched. As I reflected on the past year, I made a quick list of the most helpful advice I was given during this first, vulnerable year of planting. Of course, this list is specific to our church's context, and most of our story has yet to be written. But I think the advice I've received could help others as well. In I was part of a church planting training.
Mark taught several classes. He said "learning agility" meaning mental and ministry adaptability so often, that by the end of the course we couldn't help but associate that phrase with him. But I'm glad he repeated himself. This piece of counsel is the key that unlocks the nine tips below. Mark warned us that many church planters are not willing to have high learning agility. They are sometimes so enamored with a particular ministry model or idea that when it does not work in the real world, they get embarrassed, defensive, and discouraged.
Mark encouraged our class to find good coaches, learn from our mistakes, and constantly adapt to the conditions. At every stage of our initiative, veteran coaches have made adaptation and growth possible for me and our church. Church planting is this vulnerable, exciting space where something is supposed to come out of nothing. Everyone, including you, constantly wants to know: How's it going?
What's happening? Where are the results?
So when we moved back to Chicago to plant a church, I felt a strong urge to start make something happen—to go fast. And there are many faithless ways to generate activity in the early days. Stewart taught me that building a community is slower than you want it to be. It takes time to develop trust, grow as a leader, and wait on the Lord together in prayer. However, once the community is in place, you have an entire team with gifts and energy that take the church so much farther than you could on your own.
Your people will have more enthusiasm about the church plant if they've helped you shape it anyway.
So go slow to go fast. Al, a church planting veteran, surprised me with this one. He taught our class that a typical church plant Core Group can be like a close-knit board meeting, made up of leaders who make executive decisions.
As such, these groups are difficult to leave there's no end date , they are difficult for the church planter to lead less freedom, more like a hired hand , and people are often wary of joining such a high-commitment group. A Launch Team is more like an ever-expanding party , where there is a winsome urgency to gather others, take risks, and be creative together.
Launch Teams are also easier to leave , because the launch of the church gives the team a defined off-ramp. In our Launch Team partied, sweated, risked and made lots of memories together. I loved leading this team.
My Top 10 Church Planting Tips
Many of them ended up staying with us after we launched in October, and those who didn't are still beloved friends. Mark spoke these words to me because I was worrying about who wasn't showing up. Mark's timely word was instrumental in my own experience of God's grace related to the makeup of my church. Since Jesus builds his church, getting certain people in the door was ultimately not my responsibility. Instead, I was called to feed, lead, and commission the people that Jesus had already brought. I can still feel the relief that washed over me when Mark spoke these words.
He was both coach and pastor in that moment. Kevin has been involved in catalyzing many New Life church plants in the city there are 19 of them.
4 Principles Every Church Planter Should Consider – CITYREACH NETWORK: Church Planting Organization
Kevin's words about worship space were prophetic. He knew what I know now: worship space is hugely influential to the development of your church, and finding the right venue can be as much a spiritual battle as it is a logistical one. On two different occasions, we were in desperate need of space. The first time was in February, when our Launch Team outgrew the largest available house in our congregation. We prayed, and God provided a perfect multi-purpose space that we used for several months.
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The second time was in August, when we were weeks from Launch Sunday but without enough space to invite more people. Our primary concern in wanting to be a church planter, or if we are looking for church planters, has to be character before charisma and grace before gifting. Far from it! We need more engaging, visionary and gifted leaders.
But without those characteristics being shaped by godly character, they are inherantly dangerous. They were the choice of the Holy Spirit when he was looking to move the gospel out into unchartered territory. They were leaders of character and calibre who were responsible for the health and vitality of the still young church in Antioch. Yet, in our world, it seems as though church planting is the almost exclusive preserve of young men. If catalytic leadership is an important principle in the planting process, then we should also encourage older men to take up the challenge.
Men who have been tried and tested in both life and ministry, passed through the fires of hardship, disappointment and success and so shaped on the anvil of providence. What usually happens though is that such leaders often move to prominent churches and bigger platforms. This could prove to be a tremendous training opportunity. Imagine the scope and benefit if the older man were to be sent to plant a new church in a new context, and have with him younger, aspiring planters. This would give us the best of both worlds: experience and vigour.
It also bears a striking similarity to the Pauline method of training and equipping for pioneer gospel ministry. For too long, formal training has been geared towards placing men in already settled churches. But church planting offers a great opportunity to train leaders in situ, who will then be equipped to lead new initiatives, because they are hard-wired to think beyond maintenance to mission. Many of us have lamented the lack of a detailed description in the New Testament of a church planter.
Most of what we assume, we do so by deduction. When Paul began his expansive ministry, he started it as part of a team and was sent out as a team Acts When the second journey began , and the altercation between Barnabas and Paul over John Mark occurs, Paul takes Silas, an emissary from the church in Jerusalem, with him. When they arrive in Lystra, they make the acquaintance of Timothy, and he accompanies them So the pattern is established. Of course, these were largely mobile teams, moving location around the region, but they were far from brief forays into major cities.
Sometimes, they stayed for years This provides us with a potentially fruitful model. The understanding of these new believers would have been shaped, not only by the apostolic message, but also by the apostolic method. They understood what it was to be church by experiencing church at first hand. They had the gospel explained to them and they saw the gospel fleshed out in the lives of the team.
The idea of the church as a body was tangible, and the reality of the church as a missionary body was self-evident. Just as a baby is, ideally, born into a family, so too new believers are, ideally, born into a family of faith. In that context, they hear truth spoken, see life lived and absorb cultural values and norms. We are often people of extremes. For us it is all too often and all too easily, one or the other. But we should not emphasise leadership more than team, and teams do not require a radical democracy.
Leaders need teams to lead into ministry and gospel opportunity, and teams need to be led by equipped leaders of character and truth so they have focus and gospel clarity.