Planting a church is easy. At least when compared to developing disciples. Developing disciples is tough! It’s a lifelong process that seems to need constant attention and tweaking. Therefore, it’d be wise to learn from those who’ve had success.
Doug Paul is Director of Content at 3DM (3 Dimensional Ministries) and is out on the front lines of development and disciple-making. Here are a few distinctives on how 3DM is planning to train and plant this coming year:
1. Only plant 100 churches
We aren’t trying to plant as many churches as possible. We are looking at planting on the 100 most influential colleges in the United States, with each one becoming a training and sending center in their own right. We want multiplication and we believe we get that by focusing on only planting a few and doing them incredibly well.
2. Immersion training for two years
Before going to plant a church, we want to train church planters to do everything they are going to be doing . . . before they do it. Training will require planters to move and participate in two years of immersive training in all of the tools, vehicles and practices they will launch in the future. In many ways, we are taking a page from the Missional Schools that missionaries participate in before going overseas. Too often church planters feel like they are flying the plane, while building the plane, while getting their pilots license. It doesn’t have to be that way.
3. Train couples
If you’re married, we don’t just train you, we train your spouse. With the Biblical understanding of covenant, that the two have become one, we don’t know any other way of doing it.
4. Provide information
Sociologists will say that there are three ways that humans learn to do something, and our training will do all three:
- Through receiving pure information (lecture style, reading, etc)
- Apprenticeship to a specific skill set
- Immersion in a particular kind of culture
5. Economic engines
By the time one of our church planters heads for the field, they will have an economic engine to take with them. We believe the future of the church is in Give (tithes/offerings), Share (amongst family when there is need) and Make (each church has economic engines). This is certainly a model we see at work in the New Testament. A substantial portion of their two year training will revolve around learning this economic engine.
6. Plant an oikos
Rather than parachuting a lone church planter or a couple, they will plant with a fully functioning spiritual extended family from the beginning. Each church starts with at least 15 adults who are already missional ninjas (ha), ready to lead.
7. Train leaders in how to use proven vehicles
Huddles and Missional Communities are vehicles of discipleship and mission made in the crucible of post-Christian Europe. In addition, we will teach leaders how the weekly worship service (which should still be highly valued) can be used when you are a scattered and gathered reality.
8. Buy a house
It’s not just about having a functioning extended family, but having a place where that central leadership family can orbit in and out of. In other words, Greek Row got it right. Rather than giving large amounts of seed funding, we will rent/buy a houses on or close to campus for that family to live in.
9. Health insurance
We will be doing our best to provide a group plan for church planters to buy into that is both affordable and with quality care.
As you’re probably gathering, if you choose to go for only 100 churches planted in the next 10-15 years, it requires an assessment process that really works.