Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Church Planting "Jugulars"
Its been a great week so far. Today I spoke to classes at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary about church planting. My friend and fellow partner in crime Dr. Jack Allen actually allowed his students to be exposed to me. I always enjoy the opportunity to be back in the classroom and interact with students.
Dr. Allen asked me to speak primarily on two things:
1. What I would reccomend potential planters do prior to their arrival in the field.
2. A few of the top mistakes I see guys making in the field early on.
What follows is a bit of fodder from those discussions.
Things to do before you get to the field to plant.
1. Pray, Pray, Pray!!!! Yeah I know, we talk about this issue so much already. Trouble is, we talk about it more than we do it, and there could be no more crucial time devoted to prayer than the time just before deploying to plant a church. If church planting is anywhere near as effective as Peter Wagner says it is, Satan must hate it more than almost anything else we do. From experience I can testify that the enemy will come after you. He will come after your family. And in the face of such warfare, prayer is the only hope you have. Pray alone. Pray with your family. Ask 300-500 folks to pray with you (these are Jack's preferred numbers) and get ready!
2. Confirm all Partners IN WRITING! Let me preface with this statement: No one I know at the North American Mission Board, our state convention, or our association would intentionally deceive a church planter about the amount of support he will receive. Unfortunately, the chief liability of multiple autonomous partners is that often, the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. In this environment, a single, innocent clerical error could mean funding cuts in the $1000s of dollars. In the event of such an error, written commitments will substantiate all that is needed for supporting partners to get their act together.
3. Research the Focus Area Before you go. Ed Stetzer suggests (and he is right)that your first day in the field, you should know as much about the history, geography, culture, and spiritual state of the area as those who have resided there for years. Such knowledge, if gained in advance of your deployment, will conserve valuable time that once you arrive, should be spent cultivating, rather than studying, your area.
4. Participate in Assessment, and if Possible, Multiple Assessments. Different church planting ministries will, by virtue of their own values, look for different things. Being assessed at least twice will give you a much more accurate picture of the "total you."
5. Secure a coach. A subscription to coachnet costs only $75 annually, and the return on investment (provided you are coached by someone who knows what they are doing, and has your best interests at heart) is immeasurable! Coaches draw out the best in you, help you "refocus" in times of confusion and discouragement, and help you work through unanticipated issues.
In a couple of days, I'll post on the top problems/mistakes I see guys making early in their church planting efforts.