Bill Easum

Several trans-denominational groups have begun church planting centers for the purpose of networking, developing and assisting church planters. The relationship of the organization to the planter is very different from that of the congregational-based center. Whereas the congregational-based center has a direct impact on the long-term coaching, the organizational based planting center often has little contact with the planter after they have leave the initial training.  They must rely on the denominational representatives to be the coach and provide the on going mentoring. They also do not have the ability to do on-the-job modeling and training as do the congregational planting centers.

However, because of the growing need for more equipped church planters, the parachurch group provides a vital function.  And it should be note that in many cases the congregational planting centers work closely with one or more of the organizational groups in a tight partnership.

The following are four of the best church planting parachurch groups we know.

 Dynamic Church Planting International  is committed to equipping church planters of all nations in four basic areas – planting a new church, growing a new church that is less than five years old, the reproduction of Mother/Daughter churches, and intercessors for new church plants. Their mission is “To equip leaders, churches, and associations to impact the planting of one million dynamic churches to reach the world for Christ.” DCPI works with a variety of denominations and groups to provide and implement a customized plan for each specific area or need, making sure that regular evaluation provides adequate changes as needed. DCPI offers four tracks of training.  Basic Training teaches the basics about leadership, promotion outreach, team building, and planning.  Reproducing focuses on the basics of a Mother/Daughter planting system.  Growing a New Church focuses on developing healthy congregations in their first five years of birth. The Mentor Certification Training teaches how to equip other leaders to coach, shepherd, and supervise church planters. Although DCPI provides customized service, they still provide licensing use of their wide variety of excellent resources. Paul Becker is the Founder and President.

Although New Church Specialties is endorsed by the Wesleyan and Nazarene Church, it has trained planters from fourteen denominations.  Their mission is “to assist the starting and strengthening of NewStart, ReStart, & ReFocusing churches world-wide.”  Their training system is carried out through their New Church University (NCU), which has trained over seven hundred and fifty leaders.  In 2001 alone, they trained 107 church planters. The requirements for entrance into the NCU are rigorous, including such things as agreeing upfront to formal assessment and working with a qualified coach, learning the NCU terminology prior to attending training and taking four competency exams prior to attending the NCU. Everything done at the University focuses on the completion of The Church Action Plan. One of the unique aspects of NCU is that it has standardized this Action Plan into fifteen basic components based on five years of research. The church planters do not graduate without the completion of this plan. The participants are encouraged to register far enough in advance to be able to begin working on the Action Plan prior to arrival. They receive portions of NCU’s New Church Blueprints, which is divided into fifteen segments to correspond to their standardized Church Action Plan.  The potential planter can then begin a first draft Action Plan prior to attending the University. NCU sees itself more as a training system than a training event. As such, it includes assessment, standardized terminology, first-draft Action Plan prior to training, the NCU event, and qualified coaching.  The unique issue here is that all church planters are required to commit to having a qualified coach and NCU is committed to providing those coaches. New Church Specialties trains the planters to spend six to nine months developing a core group of people before launching the worship service. Church Specialties was founded by Larry McKain.

In 1991, God planted a vision in the heart of Bill Malick and in1992 the first Church Multiplication Training Center was born with its first Church Planters BootCamp   Since then over 6,000 planting projects have been trained in English, Spanish and Korean. The goal of their training is to equip the planter to problem solve and avoid the common mistakes made in church plants. Before attending BootCamp, planters pre-read the “Get Ready” manual and at the BootCamp they work through the manual.  Although CTMC does not require the planter to write out a plan of action before leaving, the planters do leave BootCamp with a flowchart and a time implementation chart as well as the “go” manual for training launch team members at home.  When asked why they do not require the planter to write out a plan of action, Malick responded, “Our experience is that the vast majority of planters are not wired to layout exhaustive plans.” Some of the basics of CTMC are: they require that the planter and spouse to attend the BootCamp because they believe the husband and wife must work as a team. CMTC trains its planters to gather a large core group of Christians first, do a series of pre-launch worship services,  and then invite people to a main worship service;  the organization is supported by several denominations and by the support the staff generates; CMTC trains planters and coaches at the same events; and they provide training for directors and denominational leaders at The annual Church Multiplication Forum. The goals of CTMC training are that the planter; is exposed to the need for coaching; has thought through the process of the coming experience; has been introduced to intercessory prayer team development; leaves inspired with tools in hand that are transferable; and has a better understanding of what is ahead. What’s next for CMTC?  Malick is developing a comprehensive local church based system of equipping and deploying multiplication centers. The hope is to make the system reproducible to the point that every first and second tier city in the U.S. has a church-planting center.

In the past, CRM worked hand in hand with CMTC doing the church plant bootcamps .  The relationship and ministry split off three years ago as CRM decided to focus on coaching and let CMTC continue the bootcamp trainings. CRM staff began to focus more on a Revitalization ministry while many of the staff kept working with CMTC as trainers and coaches. However, in1999, Hugh Halter was brought on board to rewrite and reconfigure the church plant training for more urban-postmodern contexts.  CRM=s main church planting arm is now called ZerO Missional Church Plant Practicum, which is more of postmodern missional approach to ministry that does not focus on getting people to attend a main service. Hugh Halter is the leader of ZerO. The combined number of participants so far is around two hundred and fifty people.  The training has had such a positive response from the under thirty-five crowd that Denver Seminary is now offering this training four times a year and CRM is expanding this training to all of their International CRM staff. Their training process begins with an assessment of all the planters before coming to ZerO.  Next, the church plant teams (CRM encourage a team approach) come for a three-day intensive eight-hour a day of church plant training.  The first day is a specific training called d:frag, which is a one day primer on the changing postmodern culture, it’s distinctive shifts and the ramifications for ministry and church planting.  This d:frag sets the stage for calling them to be more missional in their approach to leadership and church planting.  This one-day is also open to local pastors who want the education but who aren’t actually planting. As part of the entire training CRM requires that each team to come with a coach who will contract to coach them for twenty-four months.  CRM also provides a four-hour coaches training on the first day so they are better equipped to coach long term. Each planter is helped to work through their “convictions,@ and coming up with a picture statement that reflects their convictions. CRM doesn’t put much emphasis on the “mission statement” as they have found them to be practically useless in steering the planter=s behaviors. The next three training sessions are on leadership and cover the following:  helping planters discover who they are, their strengths and weakness so they know who they need to gather around them; what a missional leader is and how they should be spending their time; and training on how to invite non-Christians into their mission; a piece on missional evangelism which is a study on how to form a good news community that interacts with culture and helps people decide to try out the good news; some practical pieces that help them consider all the things that need to be done to plant a church; and finally how to fund the plant. But there is never any focus on trying to get people to come to a main service. The training is conducted as a “working practicum@ with a small amount of content and a lot of time spent one-on-one with their coaches who come from a variety of sources including Individual planters, independent coaches of new church developers, pastors of growing churches, denominational executives, and mission leaders. After the training, CRM stays in touch with the teams and tries to gather them in monthly learning communities that take one aspect of church plant training and work through it with other planters from their city.  CRM emphasizes bi-vocational living as a way to stay missional.  They go out of their way to help the planters focus on missional activities rather than having to gather enough people to support a full-fledged congregation.  As do all of the groups, CRM focuses on developing planters who will plant churches that plant other churches.  CRM church planting systems provide, hands-on-training, intensive “boot camps” and personalized coaching for planters, pastors and leaders at every level.  CRM customizes each approach to the specific needs of the planter. Whether working with an individual church planter or a denominational leader, CRM Church Multiplication staff helps the planter design and implement a strategy that will work in their setting. Like all of the groups in our examples, each of CRM’s systems is reproducible so that church multiplication can be sustained. Reproducible systems include:  Strategic intercession, mobilization of leaders, assessment and selection process, coaching and empowering planters, multiplying through parent churches, and refocusing established congregations. Tom Clegg is the Director of CRM Church Multiplication.