Friday, August 17, 2007

Preparing for church planting in year 2:
Imagining the perfect training event

In conversations with other church planters and with our assisting organization Kairos, it is becoming increasingly apparent that what the church planter does in the second year is very different from his tasks in pre-launch or his first year.

I recently attended a Stadia conference entitled "Church Planting at the Next Level" which aimed its content at addressing the the concerns of the church planter in years 2-10. It was a comprehensive lecture-style event, two and half days long. Stadia brought in a world-class group of speakers to talk about the various concerns: developing leadership, handling conflict, beginning a building or capital campaign, clearly communicating the vision, and others. Breakfast and lunch were provided on-site; in the evenings, we went to a baseball game or to a local church for a BBQ dinner. I came away with a lot of information about tackling the challenges I am facing at Cascade Hills, thankful for the insights I gained from seasoned men and women who have faced and overcome similar challenges.

Along the way, I got to thinking, if Kairos ever hosted an event like this, what would we want to do with the same allotment of time? What ideas would we take from the Stadia event? What content areas would we expand? What other objectives would we set for the event besides delivery of information and what methods would we want to use to accomplish those objectives?

First, we'd need to think through what overall model for the event would best accomplish the task of preparing church planters for their second year and beyond. Would the model be a conference? Workshop? Retreat? Each of these imply certain methods and concerns. Conference implies information delivery; workshop implies something to be accomplished while the attendees are present, allowing their specific concerns to inform the agenda; and retreat implies aspects of healing, worship, restoration, and reflection. While all of these models are important, my preference would be for a workshop approach, while allowing generous time for content delivery, worship, and reflection.

In terms of content areas to be addressed, here is a short list derived both from my own concerns as a church planter in my second year as well as from the content I found most helpful from the Stadia conference:
  • Leadership: building teams; creating a shared ownership of vision and mission; developing leaders and coaching skills; leading in a determined pursuit of the vision; handling leadership backlash and overcoming resistance; the changing nature of leadership in a church plant in its second year; preparing for a future team of elders; the continuous process of revisiting, refining, and re-communicating vision and mission; managing drift between stated vision/mission and actual behavior; discerning, surfacing, and shaping valuesbrought by new people into the church
  • Discipleship and spiritual formation: creating and maintaining community in a growing church; creating a culture of obedience to the Lordship of Christ; creating places for people to learn, fail, and try again in their steps of discipleship; assimilating people into communal processes of discipleship and service; mobilizing disciple-makers
  • Financial concerns: strategies for increasing offerings; transitions from outside support to congregational support; capital campaigns; the changing nature of managing the finances of a growing congregation, staff, and leadership team
  • Evangelism, marketing, and reach: creating a culture in which evangelism is the norm; training a leadership team for outward focus; strategies for creating and sustaining visibility in a local neighborhood or region
  • Pastoral ministry and conflict resolution: normalizing conflict and a grace-filled, cross-centered response to it; mobilizing teams for pastoral ministry; methods for handling the most common pastoral concerns; tools for handling large-scale conflict
For the workshop format to be most effective, it would need to be organized in such a way so as to provide enough time for the church planters and any team members with them to interact with and understand the content, think through the specifics of their own context, and then prepare an action plan with which to return to their church and implement the new concepts and behaviors. Here is a possible schedule:

  • Monday/travel day: critical to provide enough time for all attendees to arrive.
  • Travel all day, settle into accomodations
  • Evening: meet and greet session, some worship and spiritual preparation for workshop

  • Tuesday/first workshop day
  • 7:30-8:00 breakfast
  • 8:00-8:30 morning devotions
  • 9:00-12:00 Leadership workshop session
  • 12:00-1:00 lunch
  • 1:00-2:00 reflection, "sabbath", and prayer time
  • 2:00-5:00 Discipleship/spiritual formation workshop session
  • 5:00-6:30 dinner
  • 6:30-9:00 fellowship time, optional fun event planned
  • 9:00-10:00 evening worship (focused on healing, restoration, and peace)

  • Wednesday/second workshop day
  • 7:30-8:00 breakfast
  • 8:00-8:30 morning devotions
  • 9:00-12:00 Financial workshop session
  • 12:00-1:00 lunch
  • 1:00-2:00 reflection and prayer time
  • 2:00-5:00 Evangelism/reach workshop session
  • 5:00-6:30 dinner
  • 6:30-9:00 fellowship time, optional fun event planned
  • 9:00-10:00 evening worship (focused on inspiring, encouraging, and sending)

  • Thursday/half day and travel
  • 7:30-8:00 breakfast
  • 8:00-8:30 morning devotions
  • 9:00-12:00 Pastoral ministry/conflict resolution workshop session
  • 12:00-1:00 lunch and sending devotional/ceremony
  • 1:00 release for travel

And lastly, the individual 3-hour workshop sessions might be structured thus:

  • First hour: 45 minutes lecture-style content delivery, media rich with all detailed content already prepared in written form for reference, followed by 15 minute Q&A and a short break
  • Second hour: retire to small group tables each with a trained coach who knows the content well; the format is each person sharing with the group thoughts of how these concepts fit each person's individual context; the goal is to explore possibilities and share stories; short break
  • Third hour: development of specific goals and objectives along with a written action plan with the help of the table coach
Having come from an excellent conference dealing with these issues, I know how valuable such a sustained time of reflection can be for a busy church planter. These thoughts represent my initial brainstorm on the sort of event Kairos might host in the future for church planters in their second year. I'd love to hear your thoughts on other ways such an event might be structured, leave them in the comments!


DJ said...

1st the layout and content are directed at my needs (good).
2nd The worshop outline looked empowering (good)
3rd since we are talking about year 2 it would seem good to encourage pastors to bring a team (atleast 1 or 2 other people). This would help the productivity of the 3rd hour of each workshop.
4th I like the begining session and its focus on prep. A recent workshop on scripture based prayer has been a blessing for our team.

Bless you and keep me in the loop,


KMiV said...

Man that sounds great. I'm there. I find myself scrambling around talking to some of the community church plants trying to figure out what to do in the next stage. This seems like a good program for us.

What do we do after launch, discovery lab, and strategy lab?

I think that this makes sense.

Anonymous said...

Great thoughts you've got moving here. I specifically like the way that you've outlined the workshop sessions (which fit nicely following the specific session topics). DJ, I like what you said about the team aspect of lab. Most workshop/conference type things seem primarily aimed at pastors, and while this is needed, I think the most productivity comes from shared thinking. I remember taking some students with me to the National Campus Ministry Seminar when I was a campus minister, and the spiritual formation was amazing.