The following excerpt from the article “The Road Ahead: 10 Characteristics of a Future Church Planter, Part 1” by Jeff Christopherson explains why I am so focused on starting a farm system, as sports teams do, to develop leaders in our churches. If you are a pastor and want to know more about how you can reproduce leaders in your church, please contact me, and I will send you a free copy of the book Hero Maker: 5 Essential Practices for Leaders to Multiply Leaders by Dave Ferguson and Warren Bird.
A Different Focus: From Drafting Free-Agents to Developing Disciple-Makers
Church planting numbers, despite a marked increase in network and denominational intentionality, remain relatively static. Though planters are often better resourced, equipped, and coached than any time in history, the numbers have remained significantly unchanged. The reason?
Few churches, it would seem, see it as their responsibility to produce missionaries. Instead, the comparatively small percentage of churches that actually reproduce usually do so by drafting an outsider who is pre-prepared for the task. As a result, our assessment filters are calibrated to help churches better understand their draft pick. Church planting, like everything else in the church-growth paradigm, has been limited to addition.
We must be honest that we are gaining little ground: we start around 4,000 new churches in North America annually and close 3,700 older churches. Faced with an ever-increasing population, this is hardly enough.
A future movement will necessitate capacity building though training disciple-makers, which future church planters can be uniquely positioned to provide. By focusing on the harvest, new churches are planted ‘from’ evangelism, instead of theoretically ‘for’ evangelism, and a disciple-making pathway becomes necessarily obvious. This pathway will become the source for capacity building to emerge.
Clare Jewell is national church planting coordinator for Regular Baptist Churches.