What is your vision as you begin planting a church? You may be starting to plant or it may seem far off and even far-fetched. Planting a second might even be a distant [pipe] dream. Starting a network seems inconceivable. But if your vision is simply to plant a church, that is the most you are likely to achieve. It is important to begin with a vision that stretches beyond the church plant, which is why it is never too early to think beyond planting a church to think about planting a network of churches and contributing to a church planting movement.
What is a church planting movement?
A church planting movement is a Spirit-directed activity which naturally builds, renews and expands the body of Christ in a given city or region through the recovery and application of the gospel. The movement produces hundreds of new believers, scores of leaders and dozens of new churches that bring spiritual, social and cultural change to the city and surrounding region.
As you begin to think through these things, or rehearse them again, here are a few foundational assumptions to consider when thinking toward church planting:
- Effective church planting needs Christians who [a] grasp the gospel and are thus saturated by a Reformation world and life view and [b] are living and city-building in the city in sufficient numbers and can thus change a major city.
- It also needs churches that are evangelistically focused and worship/discipleship oriented, and which can train and send hundreds of Christians into the marketplace. To make a difference in a city, we probably need to see one church for every 1,000 people.
- Renewing and revived churches spread the dynamics of spiritual renewal into churches of the region. These dynamics include individual renewal [repentance for self-righteousness, grasping and experiencing justification and adoption, humble-boldness, assurance and power]; corporate renewal dynamics [deep proclamation of the gospel, kingdom-centered prayer, revived leaders] and corporate renewal signs [theological depth, dynamic worship, intimate fellowship, assertive evangelism and social concern]. Without renewal by God’s grace, churches stagnate and die.
- Intentional cooperation with other churches and Christians from many major cultural institutions [community development and institutions for cultural enrichment] can impact the city or region with the gospel.
- A church-multiplying and impacting movement takes time–at least 20-50 years. Revival becomes widespread in the first generation bringing hundreds into the Kingdom of God; in the second generation Christians rise and make their influence known. The third generation really begins to see the full harvest of a multiplication movement.
This material is adapted in large part from Porterbrook Learning. The Porterbrook Network is a strong partnership and an integral component in the training of church planters and pastors around the world.