Want to Reach the Lost? Plant Churches!
The Nuts & Bolts of Discerning Future Plants
By Michelle Herbst
Why plant new churches? Because our King commissioned us to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…” (Mt 28:19-20). Studies have shown that new churches reach unbelievers and unchurched people at a rate of 6-8 times that of established churches of the same size. While we believe it's important for every Christian to practice evangelism, we also believe a vibrant church planting culture is essential to faithfully fulfilling Jesus’ commission!
So let’s plant new churches often and well! To that end, Canon Taylor and I recently revamped our Church Planter Assessment process (click here to check out our new assessment page). This process of communal discernment is critical to healthy church plants. In assessment, wise counsel comes alongside church planter candidates to prayerfully discern if the candidate is the right planter, in the right place, at the right time to start a new church.
Our assessment process has four phases:
PHASE 1: INQUIRY
We get to know you; you get to know us and our assessment process.
PHASE 2: SCREENING
Digging deeper into who you are, your gifts, your calling, and your experience.
PHASE 3: INTERVIEW
Prayerfully discern in community.
PHASE 4: PLANT
Discerning steps toward beginning the church plant.
In the “Inquiry” phase, candidates share their sense of calling or interest in planting with a diocesan church planting staff member, and they get a sense of what planting is like in our diocese. The “Screening” phase’s online instruments gauge giftings, personality, and ministry experience; we also gather references from people all around the candidate. During the “Interview” phase, a team of trained assessors fast and prayerfully review all the data from previous phases and conduct a four-hour interview with the candidate (and spouse). The team offers their recommendation to the Bishop and Canon for Church Planting, who make the final decision about inviting the candidate to plant in our diocese. Lastly, during the “Plant” phase, the planter, partnering church(es), and diocesan leaders consider together next steps for beginning the church plant!
A good assessment process does not guarantee the success of a church plant. Only the Holy Spirit’s miraculous work can birth a new church! Rather, the process is meant to serve the planter candidate by assessing if they fit well within the planting context they feel called to. Planting is hard and, as much as is possible, we want to set our planters up for success.
If you know anyone who may be interested in church planting, please send them our assessment page link! We need more laborers in the harvest field!
Will you join me in praying for our current and future church planters?
King Jesus, you have all authority, and you promise to go with those you send. Bless and protect our church planters and their families. Stir up the gifts of your Spirit and bring many people into your Kingdom through their churches. Raise up more planters—that you may be glorified. Stir up the gift of evangelism in all of us—may we faithfully seek to fulfill your commission. Amen!
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