Church planting is a priority in God’s plan. The Great Commission, as seen in Acts, is a church planting strategy, not merely outreach to individuals. And the Pauline Epistles clearly show that establishing (strengthening) churches includes engagement with God’s plan and partnership with the apostles in the progress of the Gospel. Thus, even if I’m not a church planter, I need to lead with a church planter mindset.
“… whether or not you consider yourself to be a church planter, you need to have a church planter’s mindset!”
So, what do we mean by “leading with a church planter mindset?”
- Church renewal is closely related to church planting. Many existing and emerging leaders hope to bring strength and focus to churches that are faltering badly. Although their churches already exist, leaders who believe church planting is a priority in God’s plan approach their tasks in a manner that is much like a church planter. They try to put strong leadership in place and help the churches become strong and participate in the progress of the Gospel.
- Church maintenance may need a dose of church planting emphasis. Many people find themselves in churches that may not seem to be faltering, but in reality have plateaued. These churches are focused almost entirely inward (or on causes that are only tangentially related to the progress of the Gospel). Leaders need to be trained to help these churches refocus on the core of the progress of the Gospel.
- Church planting in small groups (without even knowing it). Contemporary Western Christianity tends to be focused on “Sunday church services.” However, there is a rapidly growing emphasis on small groups. Although most churches don’t refer to their small groups as “churches,” I heard one church elder say that “my missional community is more like a church than my church [Sunday morning church service] is.” The fact is that small groups may not just be ministries of a church. According to biblical definitions of what a church is, the small groups may actually be a network of churches that share much in common, such as Sunday morning services. And perhaps the focus of the pastoral staff should be the training of the small group leaders as shepherds of churches, not just facilitators of small group discussions.
- Church planting movement support. Regardless of whether you consider yourself to be a church planter, you need to care about church planting movements because they are at the heart of God’s plan for fulfillment of the Great Commission. The more you can think like a church planter yourself, the better you will be able to provide support to others who are directly engaged in church planting.
Occasionally, I’m asked the question: “Do I have to be a church planter to enroll in the Antioch School?” The answer is “no, you don’t have to be a church planter to enroll with us.” However, even if you are not a church planter, BILD resources and Antioch School programs are designed to help you lead churches and minister with a church planter mindset.
Many students have enrolled in the Antioch School without any intention of becoming a church planter. However, as they use the BILD resources, particularly the Leadership Series course on Acts, they find themselves compelled by the priority of church planting in God’s plan. Some begin immediately to plant churches, even before they have taken the Pauline Epistles course to identify the characteristics of a strong, well-established church.
The point is that the priority of church planting is a compelling idea that may draw you into church planting whether you expect it or not. So, whether or not you consider yourself to be a church planter, you need to have a church planter’s mindset!