One result of the increasing interest in missionally engaging mainstream culture by the church is a growing interest in church planting. Subsequently, new church planting networks are rising up. In April, I had the pleasure of being one of the keynote speakers at the Risk the Ride national church planting conference in Orlando, which was an encouraging gathering of many such church planting networks and support specialists.
I will briefly explain six innovative church planting trends that we are seeing:
1. Church planting is hot.
According to church planting guru Dr. Ed Stetzer, between 1996 and 2002, only two mainstream books were published on church planting. But from 2003 to 2005, at least eight were published and many more have since been published or will be in the coming months. There is a growing market of young pastors for whom church planting is their first-choice ministry.
2. Church planting networks are hot.
To provide proper assessment, training, coaching, networking and funding of church planters, various church planting networks are forming. Most of the new networks emanate from a church plant that has grown large enough to resource other church plants who look to it as a model church.
3. Church planting networks are specialized.
Most church planting networks have a unifying specialization that helps to attract like-minded leaders to them. For example, Emerging Leadership Initiative reaches postmodern generations and Xpansion Ministries plants on and near college campuses. Northwest Church Planting Center focuses on the Pacific Northwest. There are also Purpose Driven church plants, Stadia Church of Christ and Christian Church plants, North Coast Training Network video venue plants, and Acts 29 plants.
4. Church planting networks are resourced.
Undergirding emerging church planting networks is a host of specialized ministries and businesses that simply did not exist even ten years ago. Today, church planters and their networks have access to everything from coaching to marketing, worship service PowerPoint and video, banners and displays, websites, church management software, training on how to meet in a theater, and advice on how to buy the right gear so that you can plant a portable church.
5. Church planting networks are networked.
Many new church planting networks work in friendly partnerships with one another, sometimes even partnering together to best serve a church planter. Ministries such as the Global Church Advancement exist solely to pull various church planting networks in a city or region together so that the maximum number of churches can be planted in an area.
6. Church planting networks are trans-denominational.
While many entrepreneurial leaders and innovative churches are being attracted to church planting networks, those networks are not replacing denominational affiliations but are supplementing them. Subsequently, many church planters are aligning with a network for assessment, coaching, networking and friendship. But because most of the funding available for church planters remains connected to denominations, church planters are also joining denominations for such things as funding, additional training and theological education.
Because of the joint partnership that many church planters make with both a denomination and a church planting network, it is unlikely that many of these networks will become separate denominations. Their church planters bring with them multiple denominational loyalties and obligations. In some ways, today’s church planter is not unlike a NASCAR driver with multiple patches down the sleeve of his jacket in tribute to his many sponsors.
Source: The Church Report.