Earlier I mentioned a great blog posted by Jonathan Dodson on Four Ways Church Planting Training Must Change. I’d like to offer three “tweaks” to our thinking that must accompany his points. First, here’s a quick review:
1. We need to offer both information and experience-based training.
2. We need to train planters on both traditional “core teams” and non-traditional missional teams.
3. We need to equip planters to preach and to cultivate gospel-renewing environments
4. We need to cast vision for planters who plant not isolated churches but networked churches that partner for regional and urban renewal.
Based on what we’ve learned and experienced over the last few years of church planting, I think most of us would agree that each point would be beneficial. However, of all the benefits placing these four strategies into our training will gain, success according to many of our current metric is not one of them. Bottom line, success of these things are hard to measure.
A new way of training must come with a new way of thinking. In order to create sustainable models that embrace these changes there are at least three more tweaks we need to embrace:
1. A New System/Standard for Funding: While many of our historic church planting strategies have come with a ton of up front money, the issue often comes in year three where the church has a breakthrough opportunity yet lack the resources to actually break through. The pressure to “arrive” before the money runs out can ruin a ministry and compromise a vision. Many of today’s training leaders are considering an “infusion” model of funding where the resources given up front are less but come with the understanding that more resources will be infused as growth deems necessary. Often we make early decisions based on resources we have, not on what we might have. Infusing funding along the way keeps in lean when it needs to be lean. This model of funding creates a second change we need to consider:
2. A New Time-line: Launching big happens. But it’s become more difficult to do, and is happening less and less in certain contexts. If our desire is to begin a faith community out of culture that transforms culture from the inside out, it will take time. While reaching Christians can come quickly, cultivating new relationships from those far from Christ is a slow process. If these relationships are to be authentic, it cannot be rushed.
3. A New Scorecard for Success: We often talk about this, yet it’s difficult to embrace. We tie so much credibility to a leader (and ourselves) by how church is growing. We must realize that church grows in ways beyond Sunday morning. While measuring transformation and life change is difficult, it is possible to track community groups, those serving outside the church, what and how much we commit to mission, and how often we engage in Kingdom partnerships. All are significant qualities, yet are all ignored by the attendance report from Sunday.
These are just a few things that seem to be a frequent part of the conversation, what things have YOU seen that have changed or need to change in order to embrace a new paradigm for church planting?