Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Dummies' Guidebook to Planting Churches

The longer I am somewhere in South America, the more I realize that I don't know much. One thing I thought I knew that now I know I do not know is the easy way to plant a church. I mean, shucks, it sounds easy; you just get a few folks (a lot, if you can) saved, get them baptized, gather them into a group, and voila! You have a church. Now I am not so sure. It's not so easy. I heard a woman Sunday morning who has been at it over in Spain for the past 18 years. In 18 years, she has been a part of forming a church with 14 baptized members. Eighteen years. Fourteen members. Whew! I thought I had it tough!

So if someone out there has written a guidebook for dummies on church planting, feel free to mail it to several hundred of us who are still looking for that magic bullet.

In the meantime, consider the following about effective church planting, shared with me by a beloved brother who must remain nameless, due to his location:
  • Prayer and fasting should be a regular practice. It should not be an occasional thing.
  • There must be extensive personal evangelism. To be clear, this means sharing the gospel in one-on-one, not mass, settings. It means sharing with as many as one's team can share with. It means being intentional, looking for a decision.
  • Train new believers and create the expectation that they are to train others.
  • Train new believers in groups; those training groups will work to become churches.
  • If you want to multiply the number of your churches, multiply the number of training groups.
  • Train as many believers as you possibly can. Get as many together as possible.
  • Training must be practical. The learner must be sent out to put his training into practice.
  • Give them one lesson at a time and send them out to put that into practice by teaching it to someone else. Whoever does not complete the lesson cannot come back into the class he or she began with. He must start over.
  • Teach your new believers to obey Scripture. Put that part of the Great Commission into practice (hint: it says, "teaching them to OBEY..."
  • Get back to the basics. Be radical. Don't bring traditions and culture into the training. Stick to the Bible.

There are more ideas. Perhaps some of you want to add your own two cents to the list.

Jesus is Lord in South America!

2 comments:

GuyMuse said...

Excelente! I continue to be intrigued with the point "If you want to multiply the number of your churches, multiply the number of training groups." The more people we have in training, the more churches will result. Neil Cole talks about starting groups of 2 and 3. If you can't multiply on this level, you will never be able to do so with larger groups.

Kevin, Somewhere in South America said...

Guy,

This is what I know about training large groups: in certain parts of the world, places where exponential church planting is taking place, they are training large groups, not just two or three at a time. What "they" seldom say is that they just about have to train one hundred to get ten faithful workers. I would have thought it would follow the 80/20 principle; but it apparently does not.

Group size notwithstanding, I think one point of weakness we face in South America is trying to train existing Christians. While we need to work with them, perhaps we need to make that a lesser priority than training the new believers we win in a given place.

I don't know if I made sense out of that, or not. I am saying that existing believers may carry some baggage that interferes with rapid discipleship/multiplication.

A case in point is one of our works in the south cone of our city. The worker, a member of an existing church, has been there close to 2 years. The bulk of his work has centered around a half-dozen people. He believes discipleship should be done slowly and deliberately. I believe it should be done deliberately, but not necessarily slowly. If we had been able to invest more efforts in finding new believers to train, instead of depending on existing workers, I wonder if our work would not have increased at a quicker pace.

Thanks for your insight.