How Does a Local Church Become a Church Planting Church?
A 4 point Strategy:
1.) Laying a foundation
Incorporate church planting into the mission of the local church. Anything less than a complete commitment to plant churches is unlikely to yield such fruit. There are significant obstacles to planting churches both within and without the local church, and if the "Why?" question is allowed to linger, any passion and momentum that is gained will usually dissipate. As with any aspect of the life of the local church, church planting will not happen without the leadership and support of the Senior Pastor.
Pray the Lord of the harvest to send workers into His harvest. When Jesus gave this instruction, He was moved with compassion over the lost. We must be driven by the same passion if our church planting efforts are to be fruitful. Church planting must be birthed out of a passion for the lost and out of obedience, and it starts with prayer. Remember, as has been repeated often, "Prayer is not preparation for the battle. Prayer is the battle."
Recognize the need for a strategy and implement a strategy. All strategies and processes are minor compared to the power of the Holy Spirit to expand the Kingdom, yet they are critical if we are to contribute that portion to the process that Jesus requires of us. This paper offers the outline of a strategy that could be adopted and adapted to the individual values, vision and mission of a local church. The more the congregation realizes there is a process to planting a church, and comes to understand that process, the more interested they will be in participating as either team members or prayer support or financial
Create an environment and atmosphere that promotes church planting as a natural consequence of a healthy church. Incorporate references to church planting in the normal course of sharing vision and information with the congregation. Use stories of church planting from the pulpit as inspiring stories or sermon illustrations. Invite guest speakers with a experience in Church Planting. Introduce guests - Church Planters that may be visiting. Celebrate the various steps in the Church Planting process of those teams that are formed and sent.
2.) Selecting the Church Planting Team
Make church planting attainable for all in the church. Nurture the perspective that church planting is a team effort, and the most successful teams have a wide variety of giftings and personalities. Emphasize the critical need for Lead Planters, but also highlight the wide variety of roles that are available. (Sometimes, Lead Planters will emerge from the group of those who are generally interested.) These include not only being team members, but also participating as prayer or finance supporters. Another interesting option is that for geographically proximate church plants, church members can commit to being a part of a church plant for a certain number of years, with the intent to return to the mother church after that period of time.
Arrange opportunities for those who are interested in church planting to gather in order to pray, receive instruction, brainstorm and exchange ideas. Such opportunities would include general interest meetings, specific training sessions, monthly workshops and multiple-week courses. Resources are available from the District Office to help facilitate these. One of these resources is the Church Planter’s Toolkit.
Conduct assessments on potential Lead Planters. The purpose is to determine suitability for planting, and to identify strengths and weaknesses which will help with formation of the Church Planting Team. Resources are available from the District Office to help facilitate these.
3.) Training the Church Planting Team
Define a process whereby each potential church plant is guided through the process of forming an intercessory prayer team, forming a leadership team, receiving training, establishing coaching relationships and making a financial plan. Resources are available from the District Office to help facilitate this.
Arrange for the Church Planting Team to participate in collective training with other Church Planting Teams. Such training is called a Church Planters Boot Camp and is provided through the District Office.
4.) Coaching the Church Planting Team
Provide a coach to the Lead Planter. Coaching focuses on both personal life and church life. The purpose of the coach is to provide a certain measure of expertise, but more importantly to pray, encourage and provide a sounding board for both frustrations and ideas.
Decide when the Church Plant should "go public". Some explanation of vocabulary is helpful here. "Start Date" refers to the point in time when the Church Plant becomes a legal entity for the purposes of being able to do such things as open checking accounts, receipt charitable donations, make lease commitments and insure church activities and property. Depending on the relationship with the Church Plant, the Mother Church may be able to provide a legal covering for all of these. "Launch Date" refers to the point in time when the Church Plant is ready to present itself to the community as a full-service church, offering ministry to the needs of the community.
Associate the Church Planting Team with other Church Planting Teams on a regular (monthly) basis. This creates an environment for shared learning, where the participants can fellowship, pray, rejoice and commiserate. Such coaching is called a New Church Incubator and is arranged through the District Office.
Clarify the short-term and long-term relationship of the Mother Church to the Church Plant, including particulars regarding prayer and financial support, and coaching relationships. Recognize that the nature of this relationship will develop over time as the Church Plant matures, in some ways similar to the development of the Parent-Child relationship.
Instill in the genetic code of the Church Planting Team the intent and expectation of being a Church Planting Church, with a suggested guideline of birthing a church plant within 3 years of being birthed.