The first step in realizing this dream is the development of a church planter support system that:
- provides planters with strategic in-time training guided by adult education methodology
- facilitates holistic personal formation
- provides relational support through peer engagement
- allows for the sharing of tribal knowledge and personalized coaching
- creates space for innovative ideas to emerge and a laboratory for those ideas to be tested
- views planting through the lens of human development and tracks with planters and their team in each of the unique developmental years of the church plant
We have identified five church plant developmental stages. Each stage has a unique set of challenges and requires the church planter and team to adapt to those challenges in order for the new church community to flourish. The stages are:
- Imagine: Hear the Call
- Genesis: Clarify the Vision
- Launch: Animate the Vision
- Nurture: Embody the Vision
- Expand: Multiply the Vision
In the Imagine stage, potential planters are just beginning to think about the idea of planting. There is a sense of a call but that call has not been fully discerned. The focus within this stage is discernment and assessment. We are seeking to help the planter discern whether or not planting is for them, what sort of new faith community they feel called to, and where they may need further development.
Once planters have discerned a clear calling and been through an initial assessment process, they then move into the Genesis stage where they will focus on personal development as well as the development of a strategy. It is in this stage that the planter enters our 12-month Genesis cohort training to help them develop and execute their vision.
Leading up to the launch, the planters will have spent quite a bit of time dreaming and looking to clarify the vision of their church and strategy for launch. The launch year is unique because everything is new as they seek to give life to the vision. But like any plant that starts to grow after being put in the ground, it must be tended to and cultivated in order to flourish.
The Nurturing stage of a plant happens in years 2 to 5. During the Nurturing stage, the challenge for the church is to live into the vision it has developed. During this time, the planter and team must cultivate the life of the worshiping community, implement the processes for missional engagement, actualize the discipleship pathway and leadership development. In the midst of all of this, the team must constantly assess the effectiveness of its strategies and adapt in areas where things are not working. If the culture they are creating isn’t intentionally nurtured, then churches tend to become reactionary instead of proactive and default into negative/self-focused behavior that becomes destructive to the vision and limits growth potential.
Once the church has taken the time to live into their vision, it begins to establish a culture. As they move into the expansion stage they begin to identify potential new mission fields where they can multiply what they have done. The vision hasn’t changed, but because it has been nurtured and is healthy they can now look to start new spaces for new faces (geographic, ethnic, affinity, etc.)
For more information please email , associate director of the Center for Church Development