My friend and colleague in ministry Chuck Ridley recently posted some thoughts on creating ownership of ministry on www.churchplanting.com. He observes that this is one of the most significant weaknesses many church planters face. Definitely worth checking out the blog entry if you haven’t seen it already.
Chuck and I are currently at work on a different area of research: creating a template of a disciple. It’s too early in the process to know what will come of it yet, but I’m hoping for an assessment tool that helps us assess discipleship in the same way that Chuck’s church planter assessment tool helps assess church planters.
Craig Whitney of ELI Church Planting talks about the role of relational evangelism in planter effectiveness:
“One of the four characteristics the ELI measures [in church planters] is relational evangelism. One of the things we asked in our research was what percentage of those attending a new church were previously un-churched. We discovered that the higher the ISA score in relational evangelism the higher the percentage of un-churched people in a new church – and this relationship was statistically significant.”
Over my years in ministry, I’ve recommended many different structures be put into place to help us grow and multiply healthy churches: coaching systems, church planter training and assessment, networks/cohorts of people in similar ministry roles. Those have yielded great benefits. But one piece I still haven’t seen put into place is the leadership farm system. Of all the necessary systems for church multiplication, this is the one that’s still missing right now.
If you know me, you’re probably surprised by this title. I’m not generally a big proponent of systematic theology or theological hairsplitting. My eschatology can be summed up with “Jesus is coming back,” because that’s about all I know for sure.
However, I do believe that church planters need a practical theology that they have really thought through. Church is theology lived out. Beliefs translate to actions; actions translate to identity. What we believe directly informs what kind of church we plant. Sometimes we say we believe something, but what we actually believe is different. Actual beliefs are reflected in how we live. For this reason, we need to go back to the beginning and think through what God is really asking of us as church planters and reflect on what we really believe about God, community, and the church.