Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Five Keys to Effective Church Planting Evangelism

The purpose of this blog is to stimulate thinking and exchange ideas.  The theme is church planting evangelism.  What’s that?  Simply, it’s evangelism in the context of church planting that leads to disciples in spiritual families.  My observation has been that the 5 most common mistakes in church planting evangelism are:

1. Church planting suffers when evangelism is only the first stage of the church plant.

Often evangelism is the focus initially in church planting because there is no church and no other way to grow the church but from then on it goes downhill as we get caught up caring for new believers.  Evangelism is not a stage but the lifeblood of the church (Col. 4:4-6).  When church growth is lagging behind the first question to ask is, “How are we doing in our evangelism.”

2. Church planting suffers when there is only one evangelistic approach.

We see a diversity of means and methods used by the early church.  The Scripture talks about making use of every opportunity (Col 4:5).   The research of Grady and Kendall (1992) finds that more effective church planters 1) use broadly based evangelistic efforts, 2) are flexible in their implementation, 3) combine and integrate social activity (compassion ministry) and gospel witness.  Those who focus on “the key to unlock the door” miss out – several keys are needed.

3. Church planting suffers when we rely on the trained and the gifted. 

The trained and gifted should be equipping every believer for witness.  Kenneth Strachan of the Latin America Mission tested this theorem in Evangelism-in-Depth programs in many countries in the 1960s and 1970s:  Movements grow in proportion to the ability of the church to mobilize all members in the propagation of its beliefs. (Strachan 1968)  We need to teach and train every Christian to be a witness.

4. Church planting suffers when we major on plans and programs. 

“People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.”  Most studies show that the greatest influence in people coming to Christ is the life of a friend or family member.  If we equip Christians to share their testimony and point people to Christ in the Scriptures, the evangelistic potential of the church is greatly multiplied.  If we stress programs some people feel excluded and we spend a lot of time in strategy sessions.  Programs make great supplements but poor substitutes to personal evangelism.

5.  Church planting suffers when the basics are neglected.  

Prayer and the Scriptures are the Biblical basics when it comes to evangelism.  Kendall and Grady (1992) list prayer ministry as the number one factor for effective church planting.  Surely this is because church planting is spiritual ministry and spiritual battle and our human efforts are useless without them.   Learning to listen to God, intercede for others and use Scripture to point to the Savior are the fundamentals. in church planting evangelism.  Many new ideas can be attempted. The question is: “How do they incorporate these fundamentals?”

“Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks up at the clouds will not reap… Sow your seed in the morning, and at the evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.”  Eccl. 1: 4,6

May the Lord keep us sowing until He returns. 

Reference: Kendall and Grady, Evangelical Missions Quarterly Seven keys to effective church planting. October 1992:366-373

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Training that reproduces and spreads like a vine

He who does the work is not so profitably employed as he who multiplies the doers. —John R. Mott (1865–1955).[1] In 1902 Andrew Murray widely publicized the observation that one discipler, winning one person to Christ each year and building them up to do the same in successive generations, would win the whole world in just 32 years.[2] Jesus invested in twelve and sent them to teach the world, one generation at a time. Paul includes four generations in his instructions to Timothy to pass on by investing in capable and faithful disciples (2 Tim. 2:2). So Murray and Mott were simply reflecting on the potential impact of a biblical principle.

In this Coach’s Corner, let’s look at the relationship between training and multiplication. Let’s be honest. Often our training is strong on content and weak on reproduction. I am increasingly convinced that if those who receive training don’t run to pass on the things they have learned, something is lacking. I realize some are involved in formal training that is not so easily reproduced. But something should be passed-on intentionally; trickle-down learning rarely works.
For multiplication to take place, we need intentional training with a “generational perspective.”

First generation: Outsiders launch the training in partnership with local leaders. They are catalysts, while local leaders assist and learn.

Second generation: Church planters who have put the training into practice serve as trainers and outsiders as helpers and advisors.

Third generation: The training is entirely owned and deployed by the national movement. Outsiders are distant advisors and prayer partners.
I just came across the story of Ying Kai. He started church planting in the year 2000 and, after planting one house church per year, he realized he could accomplish more for Christ by training church planters. Later he decided to train trainers of church planters. Recently he co-authored T4T (training for trainers) with Steve Smith and the book was published last year. Hope you’ll take a look at his God-sized story: http://www.missionfrontiers.org/issue/article/training-for-trainers-process

We also have our own unfolding story of training multiplication. At the 2009 Africa Conference, Dr. Craig Ott from TEDS spoke on Foundations for Church Multiplication. After the conference, he was asked to teach the same material in the Congo to almost 1,000 pastors. What an opportunity! But he replied that, David Kiamu the Church Planting Director for ReachAfrica and its president, Nubako Selenga, could develop and teach training material better suited for Africa. Not everyone agreed. But they went ahead and spoke in the conference in Congo DR.

As a result they received invitations to train church planters throughout the Congo. Dave wrote Church Multiplication Church Planter Training. With it they trained eighty-one people in Lomé Togo later that year. God blessed and multiplication has been taking place as you will see in this January 2012 report from Nubako Selenga:

"The ReachAfrica multiplication church planters training material for level 1 and 2 are already available in English, French and Portuguese. Level 3 on healthy churches is already in preparation. In 2011, we were able to use Level 1 to train 1,095 as first generation church planters in 8 countries and 136 new churches were planted. In July 2012, the training of Master trainers will take place in Liberia and Kinshasa. We have already planned to launch level 1 this year in: Burkina-Faso, Bangui, Chad, Mozambique, Kampala and Angola. The Mission Equipping Center started last year in Liberia and soon, the second will be launched in Kinshasa. In DR Congo, God is opening a big door for us through the leaders of the Church of Christ in Congo, ECC. The ECC is an association of 67 different denominations that have committed to work together as Baptist, Methodist, Evangelical, Mennonite, etc. The vision of these leaders is to double the number of churches in DRC from 2011-2016. They have asked ReachAfrica to help them with church planting training."

 The training spread from two countries in 2010 to ten by 2012. Dave and Selenga will launch the Masters Trainer training in both West Africa (Monrovia Liberia) and East Africa (Kinshasa) in July and I will have the privilege of helping them. So much has been has been accomplished with two Master Trainers. Imagine what will take place with twenty-five more!  Another example comes from Vietnam. Craig Ott, Mark Wold and Gene Wilson launched the church planter training in three cities from 2010-2012 in partnership with Bless Vietnam Initiative (BVI). During that time the leader of BVI identified potential trainers and sites for church planter training centers.

In April BVI organized a consultation with a handful of potential Vietnamese trainers (John Yoder and Gene Wilson facilitated). Trainers were chosen for most of the training centers, but it will take time to deploy them. A permanent ministry center in central Vietnam will be used to train the trainers who will then deploy the training in five church-based training centers along the coast. One recent trainee turned down a pastoral situation to set up the training center in the North as a missionary trainer. In May 2012 two Vietnamese trainers conducted the first totally Vietnamese church planter training.  

We still have a long way to go but, here are some practical lessons we have learned along the way:

1.      Reproducible training (R.T.) must be principle-based, biblically sound and should include field-tested fruitful practices. The content must be solid and avoid methodology. That is developed by the church planting teams as they apply the principles to their ministry focus people.

2.      R. T. is a process. Sequencing and timing are important. The best training is modular with time between training events to reflect and try out the principles. How much time should there be between level 1 and level 2 training? How will level 2 training build on level 1?

3.      The process of finding indigenous trainers should begin as early as possible. Trainers should have experience applying the training, so that are credible and don’t teach conflicting ideas. In Africa, Master trainers are chosen from among those who fit a profile, have applied the level 1 training and have taught it to others.

4.      R.T. must be simple and practical so that church planters can go out and begin to apply and implement it from day 1. Initially the training was wedded to T-Net Training. But proved to be too wooden and long. The workshop should include blocks of time to plan and discuss ideas with peers.

5.      R.T. should be developed “in context” or contextualized as early as possible. It should be offered in the local language with a manual that can be copied inexpensively. Only technologies (PowerPoint, etc.) that are commonly available should be used.

6.      R.T. should be financed locally. In Africa people sleep on mattresses on the floor of church buildings and cook on charcoal under a tree to keep cost manageable. Training for Trainers may require financial help to bring in key leaders and potential trainers from other regions. But local church planter training is funded locally.

7.      Success is not measured by the size of the training events, but by the successive generations of training. The average number of church planters at an event is only 30. But that makes it more manageable and accessible. Church planter training should be taken to other cities and regions, instead of having planters from those regions travel long distances.

8.      Each time the training is offered there should be an evaluation with these goals in mind: 1- adaptation to the local culture, 2- solid, reproducible content, 3- delivery style (narrative, interactive, etc.), and 4- viability and reproducibility (not primarily comfort & quality of speakers)

9.      Non-formal and informal training should be combined for greater effectiveness. How will church planters be encouraged, coached or mentored as they apply the training? One option is to select a more mature church planter as a coach for each region, another is to have a church planter network- groups come together periodically for peer-coaching.

10.  A local coordinating team is needed to prepare events. Preferably this team brings together people from different churches and denominations. This team also raise funds and finds trainers.

Reproducible training begins with discipleship and requires that DNA be built in from the start. Ying Kai’s story illustrates the potential of that. Every disciple is seen as a potential member of a church planting team and every church planter is seen as a potential trainer. Are you a reproducer? If you have recently launched reproducible training of some king, please let me know. If would like help designing it, we would be happy to help. Matt9.38@efca.org

[2] The Key to the Missionary Problem, Morrison and Gibb Limited, 1902

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The E Myth and Church Planting

The E Myth (Entrepreneurial Myth) is that successful practitioners make successful businessmen. The illusion is that technical expertise leads to business success. A friend recommended I read the book. I don’t read many business books but I saw a striking parallel to church planting. What does the E-Myth have to teach us about church planting? First I’ll let Michael Grey tell you more about the E Myth.

“Gerber observed that most people go into business for the wrong reason. They are skilled technicians - they do a good job of what the business provides to the customer. They believe they can earn more by doing it in their own business than for someone else, so they leave and open their own shop. This is what Gerber calls an "entrepreneurial seizure." These technicians believe they will find more freedom in their business, but they discover it is the hardest job in the world, because there is no escape. They are the ones who are doing the work! They are the "business!" But if they are the business, they haven't really created a business at all; they have created a job for themselves!

According to Gerber, the role of the business owner is really quite different. The role of the business owner is to create a business that works independently of himself or herself. If that is the case, there is an "end point" where the business functions independently of the business owner. At that point, the business owner may choose to sell it or not, but he or she will have created a ready-to-sell "money making machine" for which he or she may choose the effort to devote to it. The business can also be duplicated from place to place.”

The answer, according to Gerber, is for the business leader to create systems and find others to lead them. Do you see the connection with Pauline or apostolic church planting? Apostolic church planters are called to be catalysts of new kingdom communities - but not their pastor. The patterns of evangelism, discipleship, leadership development and ministry development should be set in motion and turned over to others as early as possible. The mindset is “develop, empower and release” rather than manage and maintain!

Gerber also says some things that don’t sit well with me. He says the entrepreneur should be an emperor (rather than a manager) who knows what he/she wants and is confident in his power to get it. It sounds like the polar extreme of servant leadership. However, on this point he is right: If we want indigenous churches that grow and reproduce, they must be built and based the gifting and resources of local people.

It also reminds me of the importance of selecting lead church planters who are more entrepreneurial than pastoral. I have been coaching my son-in-law about starting a young adult ministry and worship service within a stagnated church of about 400. He says “It’s a lot like starting a new church.” That is what Gerber tells divisional leaders within organizations: “Think like an entrepreneur! Run your division like a business within a business.”

The E myth applies in a different way. In some countries pastoral church planting (when the church planter stays on as the pastor) is the norm or only model. Entrepreneurial church planters may feel they have no choice but to stay on as shepherd because they see no other alternative. No one is happy. They struggle with people care and ministry maintenance. The church members feel they have a disgruntled and unwilling shepherd. One of my LATN church planting students realized this was his situation. He had the courage to explain the situation to the congregation and helped them find a true shepherd. They affirmed his calling and sent him out to focus on urban ministry and church planting.

The end of the year is a good time to assess. As missionaries we must work “on the ministry” as well as “in the ministry.” Working “on the ministry” is when we take a step back, extricate ourselves (I know that’s very hard to do) for a while and look at the direction in which we are headed. Working “on it” includes clarifying vision, strategic planning, a personal growth plan, KRAs and guiding principles. This contrast might help you visualize the difference:

Here are some questions that might help:

1. What do I need to celebrate?

2. Who do I need to thank?

3. What do I need to trust God for, like never before?

4. How do I want to grow?

5. What advances do I need to hang on to?

6. What do I need to let go of or stop doing?

7. What do I need to do differently?

8. What ceiling of complexity have I reached? (when we feel stuck - we're working as hard as ever, yet just not getting any traction. In short, we can’t seem to get to the next level.)

9. Who do I need to consult to grow or take the work to the next level?

10. What doors opportunities lie before me?

If you don’t enjoy making New Year’s resolutions, let me encourage you to write your personal guiding principles. We have guiding principles as a mission. But I never wrote out personal resolutions until I was encouraged to do so at a workshop last month. Mine cover three areas: 1) My loves: priorities I want to keep before me every day, 2) My disciplines: Things I must be intentional about every day, and 3) My struggles: Commitments I must renew to keep my flesh and its vulnerabilities in check. In order to do this in a spirit of grace and dependence on God, I wrote with the principle: who God is, who I am and the biblical basis for the principle. The pastor told us not to write the things we are successful at but those we need to work at. I came up with fifteen. For example:

Guiding Principle: I will consult God on every decision that affects others and will obey him. Scriptural Basis: James 1:5 wisdom from above, Gal 5:16, 25 walk in spirit not in flesh, Prov. 16:32, 17:17 self-control, Rom 12:1-2 He reveals his will to the yielded. Theological Truth: God is all-wise and loving. He is my shepherd. I am often self-willed and impulsive. Without direction from Him I will hurt myself and others. Therefore, I will consult God on every decision that affects others and will obey him.

I would love to hear from you about any of these disjointed ‘end-of-year’ thoughts. I wish you a fruitful and transformational New Year. And enjoy your families!

1. Grey, Michael C. Do you have a business or a job? Book Review of Michael Gerber’s The E Myth accessed Dec 13, 2011 http://www.profitadvisors.com/emyth.shtml

Friday, September 9, 2011

Comments from church planters on church planter networks

From China

When I was a church planter in Minneapolis in 1992-93 with the Baptist General Conference, I was part of a consortium of 4 church planters.  We met regularly to discuss the good and challenging parts of launching new churches.  Our churches were diverse in many regards, but it was still a positive experience to have peer validation and encouragement.

From Japan

Though the function may not be exactly what you are describing, to see what is happening in the case of Japan, you can go to http://jcpi.net (Japan Church Planting Institute), something which has been happening for about 15 years.

From Poland

Thank you for your encouraging words. I just met with 4 church planters this past week. We had a nice time and decided to look at the 8 essential qualities of Healthy Churches taken from the book “Natural Church Development” by Christian Schwarz. Please pray that I would be a blessing to these guys and that their church plants would be full of fruit.

Also, I have been in contact with Ritch and hope to be part of his network of church planters.
ASCP in Poland may be dwindling down. There is no meeting set up so far this year – we will see what happens.

From France

Thanks for the encouraging update!  I will be attending, along with several other RG-Europe colleagues, the City to City Conference with Tim Keller in October.  I feel a strong sense of alignment with Redeemer and their approach to church planting. 

From SE Asia
There is a coalition of about 40 pastors and churches here in _____ (Can't mention names or places) to whom God has given a vision for M-work and a CPing movement. I spoke at a large conference with them yesterday. This kind of vision and cooperation is quite unprecedented... The Spirit was working yesterday like I have seldom experienced. Today I consult with 20 leaders who want to start a M-outreach and CP training center. This would be akin to a church planting network for this region.
Thank you for your responses!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Coach’s Corner September 2011

Church Planting Networks and Church Planter Networks - “What’s the difference?”

One of our church planting leaders suggested we talk about church planting networks. I have been encouraging our global church planting team to develop church planter networks. I had to stop to think about the difference. How do church planting networks and church planter networks fit together?

A church planter network is a local or regional cluster of church planters that meets for peer coaching, ongoing learning, prayer, support and encouragement. Typically, a church planting catalyst brings them together and facilitates the meetings. Church planter networks are very fluid and usually have a limited lifespan. They are often cross-denominational and function like a cluster or a huddle. A church planting network, on the other hand, is an organization that promotes and facilitates kingdom cooperation in church planting. They sponsor church planter networks. For example the Purpose-Driven network selects promising church planters who have the potential of a rapid-launch and flies them together for ten weeks for guided discussions around predetermined themes. The rationale is that these gifted planters have unique gifts, challenges and can learn for each other.

A few of you are leading or have led a network like that. Charles Kieffer writes “I am a part of the Alliance for Saturation Church Planting – this is a group of missionaries meeting together with the goal of saturating Poland with churches. Officially, ASCP has closed its doors, but in Poland it lives on. Also, I meet with 5 national church planters that have a similar vision.” Charles illustrates the connection: he is part of a larger church planting network, and, in that capacity, leads a network of local planters. Sadly, as Charles points out, one of the premier catalysts for global kingdom cooperation, Saturation Church Planting has disbanded its global operation. But there are local branches still operating. ASCP spawned the Antioch Movement in 2002 as an interdenominational network of churches committed to seeing 46 Million Ukrainians given an opportunity to accept or reject Jesus Christ through the planting of 28,000 churches in Ukraine by the year 2015. In addition, they feel God has given Ukraine the unique role to be a blessing to the Russian Speaking World (RSW) by facilitating other nations in the development of a national SCP strategy.

Church Planting Networks are focused on the ungathered harvest. That is a different starting point than that of the church planter who wants to start a certain kind of church or a more relevant ministry. Great Commission church planting pulls people together in the accomplishment of vision that is God-sized. Happily, new church planting networks like the Antioch Movement are emerging in other parts of the world. In Liberia, a movement leader told me “We have never seen different churches and associations working together like this. That shows us this is something new the Lord is doing and makes us want to be part of it.” Under the leadership of ReachAfrica, five movements have come together to identify the parts of Liberia where they have the strongest presence and are helping each other saturate those regions through joint training, prayer and strategic planning.

Several USA networks have gone international recently and, in doing so, have also gone interdenominational. Redeemer Presbyterian in NYC has become a multiplication center using the network concept locally and globally. Tim Keller will be speaking in Berlin in October (http://redeemercitytocity.com/inside-the-movement/events.jsp ). Their City-to City effort brings together urban planters who have common core values for a cycle of training, internship, and coaching during the launch of the church plant. Acts 29, one of the most “avant guarde” church planting networks has gone international and is sponsoring Jay Bauman in Brazil (see http://www.restorebrazil.com/ ) among others. Church Multiplication Associates founded by Neil Cole (organic church) began in CA but has spread throughout the USA. It is also working with a movement in Honduras.

The Free Church has traditionally been kingdom-minded but, it seems to me, we are often parochial and short-sighted, especially in the early stages of church planting. There are some exceptions: Jay Pinney in Quebec has led the Quebec Network of Church Planting Canada. He could give you more insight into the values and costs of kingdom networking in church planting. One of the benefits is cooperative research. Together participants find UPGs and unreached pockets of cities and strategize to fulfill the Great Commission. Drs. Steve Beck and Johannes Grebe of the FTH (Freie Theologische Hochshule or Giessen School of Theology) are setting up a European Institute for Church Planting which will be a cooperative research effort for contextually relevant church planting.

Another benefit is cooperation in training. ASCP did a wonderful job in eastern Europe but they have left a vacuum by leaving some countries. In Vietnam, Myanmar and Ahmadabad, India we are responding to requests to partner with movements in their effort to train church planters and trainers. ReachAfrica is functioning, among other things, as a church planting network as they bring together associations to cooperatively develop, empower and release new waves of church planting.

Is there a church planting network (formal or informal) in your region of the world others should be aware of?

So what? I hope these examples encourage you toward kingdom minded cooperation. Perhaps you are new to church planting and should look into a local network. If you are an experienced church planter, will you tithe your time to coach a new generation of church planters? Please click reply and send me an email with your ideas, questions and experiences with church planting and church planter networks. I will post the benefits and best practices of local church planter networks you send on http://www.blogspot.churchplantingideas.com/ as I receive them.

P.S. Please stay with me for a minute. We need help. I am cooperating with EQUIP to help new church planting teams come together to form a four-week learning cohort when they ready to make their church planting action plan. They will benefit from the input of other new church planters in the cohort, their facilitator and a coach from their region. Part of this will be online but it will also have a face-to-face component. Here’s what we are looking for:

1. Facilitators for the online portion of the guided strategy development. You would go through the process once yourself to learn.

2. Coaches who would spend 2-days with a new team in their area. If you don’t think you would qualify, please recommend someone who helped you.

3. Region-specific church planting resources.

    a. Good church planting proposals for cross-cultural church planting. If you have one please send it to me.

    b. Brief articles (web or PDF) that a new church planting team should read to minister in your culture.

Please let me know if you can help with any of these. We're in this together for HIS sake.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Two Extremes Resource-Deprived and Resource-Driven Church Planting

Coach's Corner April 2011

The story of two German church planters

Frank Hammand is a corporate lawyer in Frankfurt whose real passion is to plant culturally-relevant, gospel-centered churches throughout the city. His vision is a movement of five churches in 10 years. His commitment is evidenced by the fact that he told his law firm he wouldn't work more hours no matter what they paid him. He and his family of three live in a cramped apartment because of the high cost of living downtown- but they wanted to live in the community. Recently the socialist party leader announced that he was the hardest working pastor in Frankfurt when it came to serving the people. Frank strikes me as a creative church planter, with a credible platform as a lawyer, in tune with his targeted community. My prognostic is that if Frank isn't successful in Frankfurt, who would be?

Yet, as we talked the tension between the big vision and the challenges of the launch of the first church became apparent. Their growth is primarily by conversion and Germans aren't looking to the church for answers. In 2009 they grew by 10% so they aimed for 20% growth in 2010. But, it turned out to be a year of consolidation without new conversions. In 2011 they are pulling all the stops in their evangelism and have started two discovery groups, one in a quaint flower shop and the other at the corner Coffee Fellows (the equivalent of Starbucks). This bi-vocational approach, exemplified by Frank, could be called: "limited investment, slow saturation." My question to Frank was "Are you going to make it? Frank said he couldn't be sure but he wanted to persevere with the bi-vocational approach because, if they can do it, it would be a replicable model and they could find planters for the next projects.

I wanted to stop in Berlin but wasn't able to. But Diet Schindler, Church Planting Director for the EFC of Germany, told me with great enthusiasm about Christian Novatski and the Berlin Projekt. Diet estimates that only 5% of church planters are apostolic (regional movement) leaders and Christian is one of them. He leads a team that is focusing on a disciplemaking movement that will yiled many churches over time. The mother church sent out members to start a 2nd generation church in a suburb called Pankow and plans are on the drawing board for an immigrant church and an international church. This effort is resource intensive. It takes a special kind of leader and a team who are supported from the start. Diet figures that 350,000 Euros (around $500,000) are needed to plant a high impact church, from start to finish. Christian's approach could be called "big investment, rapid impact" of a city. My question to Diet was: "Is this approach reproducible and sustainable?" He thought that it could be but didn't seem to have a clear idea how 2nd and 3rd generation churches could be planted with less external resources and why they would expect any less.

Let's compare the two approaches:
Limited investment, slow saturation
Big investment, rapid impact

Description: Incarnational church planting in a specific community using a bi-vocational church planter and core group.

Description: Catalytic church planting in a targeted region of several communities using a supported church planting team led by an apostolic leader.

Advantages: Not resource-driven, easier to find planters, reproducible model, could be used almost anywhere, bi-vocational worker identifies with community, culturally-relevant, ministry team of local disciples.

Advantages: Strong leadership, team approach from the start,
more visibility, more personnel for holistic ministry, more rapid development, greater potential for regional impact, diversity of target groups.

Disadvantages: Church planter has less time and resources,
development is slower initially, planter's family makes more sacrifices, higher rate of attrition.

Disadvantages: Requires a special leader, high financial investment initially, not easily reproducible, not likely to lead to 3rd generation without a shift to self-supporting planters.

This is a question of methodology that doesn't require an "either or" choice. But approaches might be effective and efficient under the right circumstances. Frank's approach is common in Latin America and Asia. Nicolas is typical of the planters in the Purpose Driven approach in the USA and the some high invest, rapid impact project in developing world cities.
Here is where I would like to go with this. In both cases there is the danger that multiplication (defined by reaching 4th generation churches) is never achieved. Sustainability must take into account the DNA of the church, the reproducibility of the model, the availability of the kind of planter that is needed and of financial resources. Would you give this 10 minutes of thought and jot down factors that would contribute to multiplication by answering three following questions:

1. "Which of the two approaches to do you think would fit your region better?"

2. "What would help the Frank Hammands of the world avoid burnout, plant reproducing churches, and achieve multiplication?"

3. "What would help the Christian Novaskis of the world to avoid dependence on external resources, plant reproducing churches, and achieve multiplication?"

P.S. The long term fruit and reproducibility of big investment, rapid impact approach was tested in Lima, Peru. It was called the Encounter with God Project. A Christian business man, R. G. Letourneau, got behind the project with his resources and mobilized others to pray and contribute. They brought in an Argentinean who was a gifted speaker and leader, built an attractive building on one of the main streets and began with a concentrated effort of evangelism and disciplemaking.

As a result, "From 1973 to 1987 the movement grew from one church with 117 members in 1973 to 20 churches and 9,127 members in 1987. By 1997 there were 38 churches with 15,870 members and a weekly attendance of 25,000. A launching grant of $300,000 was provided and a comprehensive evangelistic and church planting strategy, including local refunding of the project, was implemented. Funds were used for evangelistic outreach, advertising, the purchase of properties, and construction of church buildings (Mangham 1987, Turnidge 1999). Though the Lima project inspired many similar attempts to launch church planting movements in other countries, none have matched the remarkable results of the original project in Lima." (Ott and Wilson Global Church Planting 2011).

Althouth much attention has been placed on the heavy investment in infrastructure the greater part of their success may be linked to the cycle of prayer, evangelism and discipleship they used called "saturation evangelism."

Let me know if you have a question or a suggestion for a future article.

Gene Wilson

Friday, September 24, 2010

Dialogue: What criteria do we have for selecting a city where an Acts 19 movement is likely to occur?

What is an Acts 19 movement? In my quarterly "Coach's Corner" I suggested this definition.
An Acts 19 movement
is a place where the gospel penetrates deeply and broadly so that lives are transformed and disciples, leaders and churches are multiplied.

One of our staff responded and I found the dialogue that ensued helpful. E. is beginning work among unreached people in a difficult context, yet his vision is BIG. I tried to answer his question but am not satisfied with my answer. If you have something to add, please post it below or email me and I will pass it on.
E. writes:
I am wondering if you have put together, or know of someone/some organization that has put together objective criteria for seeking out an Acts 19 Center?.. I have put it in my 2011 KRAs to travel to at least 3 urban centers to explore if we could establish a center in the city.  It seems though we have to go beyond a gut level feeling and look with objective criteria.  For example, I wonder if when the Apostle Paul was in Ephesus he saw the spiritual dynamic and hunger of Christians, the tremendous potential for developing strong Christian leaders, the many cities in Asia Minor that were still without the gospel, and perhaps the evolution of his own ministry as an equipper of others that perhaps caused him to set his roots there for a time and create Ephesus as an Acts 19 Center.  In other words, I think there needs to be some objective criteria that can be used as we explore for potential Acts 19 Center locations. 
I do believe you are onto something. The selection of an urban center is an important factorI wouldn't want to establish a set of factors for Acts 19 places. Most occur in urban centers but not all. I think it best to think of it as a process – If you are considering several urban centers ask God "what is the particular Ministry Focus people you have prepared for us?"Below are some determining factors. It think two key things to look at a people group where God is working in a special way (Iranians for example at this juncture) and the presence of a movement leader (cultural insider) who has a passion to reach his/her them.
The Need Factor - Spiritual Need (Rom 15:20; 10:13–15)
     Communities, people groups, lasses without an indigenous, evangelizing church
     Small percentage of evangelicals
The Responsiveness Factor – Receptiveness (Matt.10:11–15; Rom. 16:9; Acts 14:27)
The likelihood that people will be receptive to the gospel and the church will be able to grow and become reproducing within a reasonable period of time.
The Strategic Effectiveness Factor– Potential for Multiplication & Influence
     Opinion leaders, high credibility persons
     Social groups or subcultures that influence others
     People groups with extended family or relationships through the region
     People groups that are industrious or entrepreneurial.
The Geography Factor – Significant Location (The cities of the Pauline mission)
     Commercial, educational, political, or transportation centers
     Locations of population growth, movement.
     Possibility of launching a regional movement from the location
The Diaspora Factor – Pre-existing core group (Acts 8:1–4; 11:19–21)
     A number of Christians living among the focus people build the core of the church plant.
The Open Door Factor – Exceptional Opportunity
     Exceptional opportunities to preach the gospel and/or exceptional responsiveness to the gospel.
     Ephesus - 1 Cor. 16:9; Macedonia - 2 Cor. 2:12; Prayer for open door - Col 4:3
The Supernatural Guidance Factor – Exceptional Leading of the Spirit
     Acts 16: the Macedonian call; Direct guidance may at time override very well reasoned plans.
E. responds:
I agree with you in that the process is dynamic.  I do believe strongly we need to develop the ability to hear more clearly the voice of the Holy Spirit for certainly Paul did.  And, as you point out, the process is exactly that, a process.  It usually takes time to see God build upon the work we have begun.  It's unfortunately we live in a day of instant successes and gratification for that isn't the Biblical model.  It seems to me a person could find great satisfaction in knowing that what they labored for over many years, even a decade or two could result in a gospel movement among a people group.

 So, a few things mentioned that stick out to me:
  1.  Which people do we sense God is working or moving among? Here the stories from others.  There remains though 1,200 people groups that are 'unengaged' so there may be a need for a seed planting ministry via salt & light missionaries.
  2. Does He providentially lead us to an indigenous movement leader?  Joseph N. was such a person.
  3. Is there a perceived hunger for God, truth, the Bible, or spiritual things among the population?  We see this in the Islamic world but still hard to engage them face to face.
  4. Among 'unbelievers' or those of a different faith, does God lead you to a 'person of peace'?  Our church from Virginia going into Cyprus found this. 
  5. Does the urban center allow for different ideas through its openness or is it closed & rigid.  I think here that urban centers with universities tend to be more open. 
  6. Is there a body of believers to work with in creating a movement?  A good sign but needs much communication in how to partner.
  7. What other mission personnel are working in the urban center?  What are they doing to reach the unreached?  I think of two things here: first, they often use ineffective methodology; second, they often don't verbalize the gospel for fear they will be kicked out.  
Well, just some thoughts to help me process more.  As you come across ideas of your own or from others please pass them along to me.  Thanks much!

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Gene is serving as Church Planting Director for ReachGlobal and has been a church planter in Quebec and a church planting coach in Latin America.