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 (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 ( ). 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 ) 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 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.

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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.