In the previous two posts I talked about the benefits and the drawbacks of using the campus model as a bridge toward church planting.
The Benefits of Using the Campus Model as a Bridge to Church Planting…http://bit.ly/eVJzHY
The Drawbacks of Using the Campus Model as a Bridge for Church Planting- http://bit.ly/g02DhL
In this post I want to highlight a few convictions or priorities that I have about church planting in the future.
Establish the Church Planting Priority/Culture: As a church plant there is obviously an awareness of the priority of church planting. However, if we are not intentional, this steam can fade in time as other priorities emerge. For example, we are now looking for a more permanent location. We are raising money for this. The next step will be the land or location itself. Then we move in. You can see how, if you are not careful, the church planting momentum can slow down.
As elders we talk a lot about the expansion of ministry. We pray about it. We plan for it. In fact, one of our staff members, Josh Thiessen, (blog / twitter) was brought here with the expressed desire to plant a church in the near future. As a church we talk about that. It is important to remind ourselves that we are all missionaries and that the chief missionary organization in the world is the church. Therefore, church planting is hard wired in our DNA.
Pray: This goes without saying, but too often goes without doing. If you want to be a church that plants churches, then the leaders and people must pray.
Publicly Affirm: This is big for the sending church as well as the plant. I think it is important to make a big deal about the plant and publicly affirm the plant. Think of it like a baby dedication.
Establish Clear Timeline: Once the community and leaders are established, I think it is important to develop a clear timeline of events. This includes important benchmarks along the road toward autonomy. When the leaders see these and work towards these it builds cohesion of mission and clear measurable goals.
Joint Elder Meetings: It just makes sense to on a somewhat regular basis have the church plant elders and the sending church elders meet to talk and pray through ministry. I would envision having the plant elders being functionally under the sending elders during the ‘gestational’ period of the plant. This provides support, discipleship, experience, accountability, and some security.
Name the Church Plant: Part of establishing an identity that is separate from the Mother (sending) church is the name. In the future I think we will do this once the decision is made to plant and the community begins to meet.
Break out the Budgets Separately: As I mentioned before, this helps the planting church to know what they need to be and do in order to meet their financial needs. This also helps with the timeline and measurable goals mentioned above.
Share the Same Constitution: The church plant needs a constitution. The plant could be provisionally governed by the sending church constitution or it could adopt its own constitution that reflects the sending church. Either way the continuity through distinction is maintained.
Support the Church Plant Financially: There are obviously a number of costs associated with planting a church. These costs are far more than the small group of believers can afford. Therefore, it is important for the sending church to appropriately plan to support the plant for a period of time (based upon the clearly stated goals/timeline). It may be appropriate to have this number decrease over time in effort for it to get down to complete independence within an agreed upon period. This would seem to mitigate against the financial concerns raised in my drawbacks post while preserving the benefits in the initial post.
Provide Regular Updates or Act Like a Family: In order to maintain community it is important to continue to promote the relationship between the Mother and Daughter churches. This will help the newcomers see how dear the gospel tie is. It also helps to train the plant to see what a sending church should do while continuing to fan into flame the burden for more church plants from the sending church.
It’s like a kid going off to college or getting married. The parents want updates and the kid has a lot to share. They are beginning to live apart but they love being together, they love hearing about what is going on. In this illustration of a functional home there is a great anticipation for the enjoyment of one another’s lives and experiences. How much more in the church? This family should and must experience the joys of gospel growth together, while apart.
There is more to say on this, but this hits the objective I was after, namely: to contrast the pros/cons of using the campus model as a bridge toward church planting, and then provide a solution.
I obviously am not in favor of using the campus model as a church planting strategy. But at the same time it ‘worked’ for us. Therefore, I am saying I think there is an even better way to do this. I really like a plan that emphasizes the sending church’s involvement while recognizing the plant’s growing autonomy. If this is a plus for you then the campus model is working against you. The campus model emphasizes one identity with separate ’governments’ if you will. The church planting model would have separate churches/identities with oversight and help to reach the clearly stated, agreed upon goal of an autonomous self-reproducing church.
One resource that I have found to be very helpful is PLNTD. From their website:
PLNTD exists because we believe in the local church and embrace the call of the Great Commission. PLNTD is a decentralized network of churches and church planters fostering kingdom partnerships around the framework of being gospel-centered, missionally driven, distinctively Baptist, and confessionally Reformed.
Give them a look. Good, gospel-centered guys.