Church Multiplication

Developing Church Planters

Developing LeadersDo you need more church planters? If not, you can stop reading now. But if your movement is like most, having a supply of effective planters and other leaders is high on your wish-list. The lack of leaders presents a real and ongoing problem and one that gets worse every year. Why is this happening? Because most movements usually focus on the number of churches they want to plant instead of the number of church planters they need. With this emphasis the pressure is to recruit existing leaders rather than investing the time and energy to develop new ones. As a result, the supply of new leaders diminishes while the demand increases.

Sustainable? Hardly. It’s like everyone trying to buy their fruit and vegetables at the supermarket but no one is doing the farming. Too many consumers and not enough producers. We all want fruit, but Jesus wants us to produce the fruit.

When we talk about developing church planters, most people think about the final stage of equipping: the intensive, pre-planting training. But really this is only the final step in a much longer process. Development of planters and other leaders begins before a person accepts Christ into their lives and continues through discipling and ministry involvement. We don’t know at the beginning who the planters will be – so treat everyone as if they might be one. Think of the whole process of development as a giant iceberg. The final more formal training stage is just the tip of the iceberg – the most visible part. The real work of developing those leaders is 90% below the surface.

So how does this development take place?When we examine the scriptures, we see that Jesus used hands-on training – a kind of teaching that is paired with experience. This is often called show-how training.

  • I do, you watch
  • I do, you help
  • You do, I help
  • You do, I watch
  • You do, someone else watches

Not only did Jesus use this method, but we also see it at work in successful Church Multiplication Movements – and the local church is the best context for this kind of hands-on development. Development is most powerful when combined with real life experience; people learn best when they have an immediate need for the information that is being imparted.

That’s not to say that formal training events should be avoided. There’s a place for skills training, theological training, and regional or national level training events. Yet coming face to face with real-life ministry situations has a way of making lessons stick.

Also as we develop leaders, we must remember that a leader, by definition, has apprentices. Without this concept, the Church Multiplication process will be limited to a linar progression – addition as opposed to multiplication – and will often stagnate within a generation. One way to ensure that leaders have apprentices is to make it a non-negotiable part of leadership expectations. But it is important to note, that having apprentices means giving them freedom and responsibility to follow the leading of God.

Here is a summary of thoughts on developing effective church planters

  • Developing future planters & leaders requires an investment of today’s leaders’ time and resources
  • Start early
  • Understand that they are not your people
  • Be willing to give away
  • Don’t develop to just fill holes
  • Make sure leaders are coached
  • Be intentional and comprehensive
  • Ready-made leaders don’t fall from heaven, they are grown on earth.
  • All healthy disciples, leaders and churches are intended to reproduce

For development that produces the desired results, there is a need to:

  • Cultivate a reproducible on-the-job training and coaching process
  • Increase the number of churches raising planters and leaders
  • Ensure that new churches retain the vision of raising leaders
  • Implement orientation and training processes
  • Identify limiting factors and develop strategies to overcome them.

For further insights into these elements, check out the other articles in this section of the Blog.

Would you like to know more? Download the free booklet on Developing Church Planters click here

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About the Editor and Primary Author

Colin Noyes

Colin Noyes is a Brisbane (Australia) based coach and consultant with extensive experience in the areas of organisational health and growth, change management, leadership development, recruiting/staff development and coaching. Read more

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