July 18, 2007

Planting Missional Churches - (CH 4) Models Of Church Plants And Planters

Chapter 4 starts off with a really good disclaimer. "Many different Biblical methods are effective in planting a church. God does not bless one way more than the others."

That's good to hear because so many situations are different, and to try and force the planter into a singular method is counter-productive to the multiplication effort. On a side note, why is it that we try to force our methodologies on others? Is it because we want control and are fearful of others doing it better than we are? Just a question...

Stetzer puts together a great chapter here and explains and expounds upon THREE main models of church planting: They are:

  1. The Apostolic Harvest Church Planter
  2. The Founding Pastor
  3. Team Planting
Let's take a look at each one and the main defining characteristics of the three.

MODEL 1 - The Apostolic Harvest Church Planter
Paradigm - Planter starts churches, raises up leaders from the harvest, moves to new church
Biblical Example - Paul

Stetzer then goes on to say that this is the method most familiar in the New Testament. He gives examples of the Methodist Circuit Riders as examples of this model. He also talks a little about how the international community (particularly China) is seeing this as the most effective method. However he argues that here in the United States, this method is less prevalent today for the following reasons:
  • Paul was single - He didn't have a family to worry about moving all the time
  • Synangogues (churches) are less open today to itenerant evangelists - Paul had an instant crowd to preach to in his day. Today, not so much.
  • Paul had apostolic authority - Planters today cannot enter a community with the same authority and expect the laity to follow as they did with Paul
  • Paul established the church with miraculous signs - Those miracles instantly gained people's attention. Not so today, so garnering the interest of those you would potentially reach is more difficult.
With that said, Stetzer then argues that this method has advantages today for the following reasons:
  • Cities are larger
  • People can be reached en masse
  • Pastors are readily available for most areas (who wouldn't want to go pastor a 1-3 year old church that already has a core group meeting and established)
From how I read this, I think the author believes that this is the method that may multiply the greatest number of churches, but may not produce the healthiest. There are tradeoffs with this approach.

MODEL 2 - The Founding Pastor
Paradigm - Planter starts a church, acts as a "church planter" for a short time, stays on long term to pastor the church
Biblical Example - Peter and the Jerusalem church

This is the most common model in North America. Stetzer then says this model is prevalent because the founding pastor model has someone who truly has a pastor's heart and wants to stay long term so they don't get restless after 3 - 5 years and want to move on to another church.

Then you spend a few pages looking at different types of founding pastors (entreprenurial, the planted pastor, etc) and how different types of people fit into this second model and a few of the different variations that this can take. Does the new plant have a sponsoring church? Is the new plant on it's own? After the variations are explored, the second model is ended with a money quote that I agree with whole heartedly:

"Statistics tend to show that longer tenured pastors grow stronger churches".

Hence, why I believe picking an area and committing your life to it, in the long run, may bear more fruit than jumping from city to city.

MODEL 3 - Team Church Planting
Paradigm - A team of planters moves into an area to start a church. Often, the team has a senior pastor
Biblical Example - Paul (at times)

"The team concept is attracting a lot of attention today". That's how this model is started off. But then quickly you come to the main obstacle: "MONEY". Many of the team members aren't willing to work bi-vocationally until the church can afford multiple staff members. Stetzer then says:
"which is a shame, because that factor alone may be preventing many successful church plants"

The team model is the one Ed is currently engaged in with his church in Georgia, so this is obviously one he believes in. He then gives some inspiring examples of how the team approach has really worked and if you can do it, this approach may produce the most successful starts. Here's a statistic based on a survey that Stetzer did:
"The survey revealed that attendance was higher (almost double) in plants with more than one church planting pastor on staff. ...In fact this increased mean attendance is most present where there are two staff members"...I concluded that having two staff members initially makes the most effective church planting team"

Now why should that be a shock. Weren't the disciples initally sent out 2 by 2. Not much has changed in 2,000 years. That Jesus guy is smart.

All in all a good chapter and a good overview of the different approaches you can take. For what's it's worth, I'm a really big advocate of the team approach, for several reasons. It was the one that struck with me the most.

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