My journey into the scary world of church planting was an interesting one. When my friend Cliff first called me and asked me to plant a church with him my answer was a quick but courteous “no.” Several months later I was in a Uhaul driving my pregnant wife and 1 yr old son to Richmond to join him. We’re almost four years into it now and it’s been four years filled with fun and frustration, learning and loving, confusions and questions. But the one question that seemed to surface the most was – “What on earth am I doing?”
I remember starting with 6 people in a living room, with nothing but a vision and a healthy dose of ignorance. I remember when those 6 had grown to 20 and we were talking about launching our public gathering … and I remember when those 20 dropped to 15 right when we needed momentum the most. I remember telling them our heart and our vision and wondering if any of it was getting through. I remember telling some of our core that we really needed a miracle to make this vision a reality … and then realizing “I don’t think some of these people even believe in miracles.” The one thing I wanted to see was changed lives and people living on mission, but the one thing I kept asking was “what on earth am I doing?” Continue reading
Church Planting is an ever-changing landscape and with such varying terrain there is a constant need for assessment and adjustment. We hear much today about the need for the development and deployment of church planters. The real question however, is how will the church do this? In order to plant new churches at the rate needed to reach the lost and dying world around us, we must be open to reassessing older paradigms as potential models for church planting in our own time.
The statistical realities are rather shocking:
-In North America today, there are 259 million people who do not know Jesus.
-Every week, approximately 17 SBC churches in North America close their doors.
-850 to 900 SBC churches die every year.
-NAMB has stressed the fact that Southern Baptists must plant 1350 churches a year to even have a net gain of 500.
Statistics like these have driven churches and denominations across the country to set some rather staggering goals for planting churches in the next few years. I’m so thankful that Southern Baptists are taking serious the need for feeder systems that access, train, and send planters in a more efficient and effective way. However, after developing a process for such development and deployment in our own local context our congregation has discovered a painful truth. Continue reading
There are many books and articles written on church planting today. I am encouraged by the emphasis and the conversation. It is both inspiring and educational. Unfortunately with all that is being said and written on the topic, many of our church plants are still struggling and some are quietly closing their doors.
Many of the church planters that I speak with, as well as those we are training, appreciate the pragmatic help but long for the greater foundational help as well. Both are important!
Paul was one of the greatest church planters throughout church history. He provided a model of what it takes to be an effective church planter. Here is a short, encouraging Bible Study on the conviction of Paul. We hope this message encourages church planters. Continue reading
Ed Note: With Steve Wright, Jimmy Scroggins argued in a recent 9Marks Journal article that bi-vocational ministry is the future of church planting. J.D. Greear responded to that piece here.
I am always inspired by my friend J.D. and his passion for Christ’s churches. It is a passion that I share. Our church in South Florida, like Summit in RDU, is committed to seeing new churches planted and to helping them flourish. We all agree that we need thousands of new congregations in North America, especially in the densely populated urban centers where our tribe (Southern Baptists) are notoriously ineffective. And we all agree that we are going to have to pursue multiple strategies and models in order to penetrate the lostness that grows around us.
So is bi-vocational “the future” of church planting? I still think it is. Church planting movements around the world are being driven by this model, and bi-vocational has been the pervasive strategy for most of church history. I still know that we have a “math problem” when it comes to funding the thousands of churches we need to start. But I also understand that bi-vocational church planting is not the only model we need to pursue. Our church is pursuing multiple strategies simultaneously: we partner with “launch-large” churches, we are multi-site, and we are developing our bi-vocational strategy. In fact, we are partnering with Summit to help plant a church in Indianapolis right now. The bottom line is this: we need more churches planting churches, and it is going to take more than a single model or strategy to plant them. There is no disagreement here.
Jimmy Scroggins is pastor of First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach, Florida.
There has been a lot of discussion lately about bi-vocational church planting. Jimmy Scroggins and Steve Wright represent many of the arguments for bi-vocational planting in their article, The Math Doesn’t Work: Why the Future of Church Planting is Bi-vocational. It’s a challenging and timely piece. Most pastors and planters consider bi-vocational planting second-class, a stepping stone to full-time ministry. The preferred method of planting remains raising 3-5 years of funds so that the lead pastor can start full-time from the beginning.
PROBLEMS WITH THE STANDARD MODEL OF PLANTING
The problem with this model, Scroggins and Wright point out, is that it is expensive. Many church plants start with a yearly budget of $200,000 or more, which means that before they’ve even planted the church, they need to grow the church to 200+ just to become self-sustaining. For many planters, especially in difficult contexts, this is simply unrealistic. Unfortunately, most don’t recognize the mistake until year 3 when their funding begins to run out. Continue reading
I have had the opportunity to experience the blessing of being in an incubator on two separate occasions. The first opportunity was when I was born two months pre-mature, weighing a massive five pounds and spending the majority of my time in an enclosed apparatus that was constructed to control the environment for the next month. This container was just what my body needed to move me toward health.
My local church has served as the second incubator in my life. The pastors of my church have acted as doctors and nurses seeking to care for my spiritual health while leading and nurturing me toward maturity. The members of my church have spurred me on toward godliness as we have sought to live out our faith in a biblical community. If your church is going to be an incubator that trains up the next generation of pastors and planters then there are some important characteristics that need to be represented in the life of the church.
1. The Pastors of your church must be disciple makers. Continue reading
Much discussion within evangelical circles have focused on church revitalization. For good reason numerous articles have been written and now even conferences center on this hot topic. As a pastor who has been in churches that needed revitalization, I am very grateful for the attention and resources that are becoming available for churches and their pastors. The purpose of this article is not to argue why revitalization in general but to explain why this pastor is excited about church revitalization.
If you have been in tune with topics of discussion circulating throughout much of evangelicalism, you know that numerous topics have been about the gospel. This is a good thing for the Church, as it brings the glories of Christ to the front and center of all we do as individuals and as local churches. In fact, we would argue that all that we do must reflect the beauty of the gospel (i.e., how our families are structured and relate to one another). This is also true for the local church. For instance, as the gospel is declared behind the pulpit, elements of the gospel are lived out by the people who are in the pews. Within the life of the church, followers of Christ are agents of God’s love, mercy, peace, forgiveness, patience, etc. Continue reading