CHURCH PLANTING DNA - YOU HAVE NO CONTROL OVER IT - OR DO YOU?
There is NOTHING MORE IMPORTANT than having the right DNA for a new church plant. There is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT EITHER! DNA doesn’t come from you, it comes from the parent – Jesus is the head of the Church and so he puts it within us. The challenge for us is not having the right DNA, but the challenge is how we see it encompassing and defining all that we do in the ministry. Hirsch in Forgotten Ways is as good as it gets with the Apostolic DNA – all of those 5 parts must be present. If those 5 (apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher – not so much offices as ministries) are functioning – your church will grow, be healthy, and do everything it needs to do. Furthermore, the unique things each church does will grow out of that DNA – so some churches will be big others small, some different characteristics – but all from the same head – Jesus Christ.
Having said that, there are some behaviors that will help you dramatically develop that DNA quicker and in a healthier way. It takes behaviors that lead to proper function. First, you pull up, then crawl, then walk, then run – it’s a process – you never start running first. Here are some things NorthWood & Vision360 tells its planters are critical behaviors to do in the first year of its life. If these behaviors are present – we’ve found churches will be healthy and grow and complete. If they aren’t present, they become add-ons down the line separate from the church as a whole.
BEHAVIOR #1 Disciple people in cells, and, Church Planter, your cell is the first one. The first cell is the planter discipling his leaders. Even in teaching them how to lead a cell, you are training your future cell or small group leaders how they are going to train others. Don’t do something twice. Write your manual for raising leaders as you go. I look for leaders that are people magnets. I look for leaders that can inspire and encourage. I don’t look for the great “Bible Teacher” to lead a cell. It, sadly, often becomes about their teaching and not taking people where they are. I was with a planter who was sharing with me how he’s had 200 salvations his first year and has baptized 100 of them. He’s growing fast and didn’t know what to do next. I told him, “Your number one job is to raise up 20 leaders immediately that can in turn disciple all those people that you’re bringing in or you will plateau.” In your cells, or small groups, people are pastored, evangelism takes place during the week and they’re brought to the cell, you teach them the Word of God – and you grow.
BEHAVIOR #2 Help a new church start. Multiplication is the key to apostolic ministry. You don’t have all the money you need – but you should give what you can. What you have is encouragement and counsel to provide. It’s critical to be able to do that. Churches plant churches. If the DNA is set early – you will always plant and your people will think it’s normal. I’m so proud of Kevin Cox at Heartland Church in Dallas – they are 4 years old – and have started 5 churches and don’t even run 200 yet. This is how DNA is set and is the stuff of movements. Movements are always about the replication of small units – not huge ones.
BEHAVIOR #3 Pick a place in the world to adopt and begin to work there. Pioneering is key to the apostolic ministry. The first year, you pray for the place, you tell your people stories about the place. You take up offerings for the place and you and a leader from the church go to the place. You inventory people by the vocations to see who can volunteer for a week or two the second year and go there and use their jobs. Once again – it isn’t much – but it’s not ignoring the direct command of Christ to fulfill the Great Commission. You do not have the option to wait, ignore, or pay someone else to do what God calls all of us to do. When this is planted in a smaller church, what they do as they get larger in engaging nations is so much more massive than what most churches are doing today- I’ve seen this first hand at NorthWood and other churches we started in the US where we are helping them engage.
BEHAVIOR #4 Pray, pray, pray, and then pray some more. The most critical thing many new church planters have to do is to learn to hear God’s voice. You don’t get that apart from prayer. Some people call this, the prophetic. This is where divine intersections happen as people and opportunity and ministry all converge. This goes beyond our ministry plan to divine encounters and unique opportunities. I’m convinced, if you know how to hear God’s voice – even if you don’t know what to do or you are ignorant in an area – God will make the right things happen in order to fulfill his plan. I’m living proof. This is where we get in over our heads, and God moves because we act in faith even though we don’t know all we need to know. Hear God. Have Courage. Move forward.
Bob is the founder, senior leader, and chief spokesman for Glocal.net . His primary focus is to connect leaders and estabish relationships to explore transformation. Follow Bob on Twitter at @bobrobertsjr.