Church Planting Won't Work Anymore: Blog #2, "Conception is submission to discipleship""

In the introductory blog ( I spent some time explaining why “Church Planting” is not the most helpful language, process, and lens to use when it comes to planting a new church and coaching Church Planters.  I introduced “Church Birthing” as a more appropriate language, process, and lens for beginning new church that is consistent with scripture’s articulation of the Church as the “Body of Christ.”

In light of the extreme popularity and energy associated around “Church Planting” and the reality that our (as a church culture) results are not stellar at the current time; shifting our language, process, and lens for planting churches and coaching church planters is absolutely necessary.

In today’s blog we begin the journey of looking at this process of “Church Birthing” as an appropriate shift in language and process for planting churches and coaching church planters.  This shift will create a consistency and framework that will help us to better leverage the enormous interest in Church Planting with better, lasting results.

Conception is the starting point for beginning a new church.  As we look at scripture and specifically scriptures articulation of “conception” we see that conception is always about something that God promises; something that God delivers.

Many of the great advances of God’s Kingdom begin with the promise of a birth.  Even as we look at the beginning of the Church in Acts the disciples are told to go and wait until God sends the Holy Spirit.

Conception is not a church planting strategy; Conception is a call, a gift from God…..this is how a “body” begins and is the way a new expression of the “body of Christ” should begin too.  Conception is a necessary step of discovering where God’s grace is going before us that is often missing in church planting and where God’s grace is intersecting with our lives.

Conception is the realization of that call…

“Church Planting” as a strategy will inherently cause us to put competency before character in the selection of the Church Planter where as “Church Birthing” puts conception as the first step which is ultimately about the “called” planter going through the journey and process of character development in preparation to reproduce his spiritual DNA in to the targeted mission field.  Its Character before competency

With church planting being such a hot topic in our contemporary church culture it can look from the outside like a glamorous job that is much more attractive then leading an established church.  Because of this, many apostolic ( leaders with high competency find themselves attracted to church planting as an entrepreneur adventure and miss the necessity of the call.

Calling is a consistent necessity throughout the narrative of scripture and specifically in the beginning of something new.  In many cases God does not call the most “qualified” for the job but instead calls the unqualified and then equips them for the call.

Conception is the acceptance of that call…

Unlike “Church Planting” where acceptance of the call means a personality test, short boot camp, and getting the assignment where the planter is going….”Acceptance” in Church Birthing is the submission to doing the hard internal character work necessary to have a life that is simple, memorable, and reproducible.  Acceptance is about doing the hard work of having a life worth imitating.

When we take a high competency apostolic leader who has not submitted to a journey of internal character work and send him through a short term (2-3 weeks or less) crash course and deploy him to start a new church we are actually setting him and the mission field up for an environment where he is unlimited in the amount of harm he could do.

How many stories are there of new churches that have exploded with breakthrough and growth due to a attractive, charismatic, gifted leader only to watch the new church implode a few short years after the birth because of character, judgment, or a morality lapse on behalf of the church planter.

Conception is the submission of that call…

Unlike “Church Planting” where often the most outspoken, attractive, arrogant leader looks like the man for the job….”Church Birthing” begins with identifying a called, gifted leader who is willing to submit he and his family to a journey of developing high character to go alongside his high competency.

If a “Church Planter” is not willing to submit to a journey of character development before being deployed than he does not possess the kind of servant leadership that Jesus models and calls His disciples to imitate. 

We can only reproduce who we are; so if our lives are not worth imitating but full of chaos than we will only reproduce chaos.  We cannot take anyone where we have not been ourselves.

 It does not do a gifted, driven, high competency leader any good to attract people to him over and over again if the life he is living and the family he is leading is not simple, memorable, and reproducible in a way that others are able to grow in the character and competency of Jesus.

The Conception Process in Church Birthing

 Answering the call and submitting to the journey of the discipleship within the Church Planter and Family is the conception process in Church Birthing.  When the Planter and family submit to a journey of allowing God to do a work in them in preparation for the work God wants to do through them they are then equipped to take the next step in the journey.

It’s through this journey of discipleship and specifically, developing a life and family worth imitating that is simple, memorable, and reproducible that the heartbeat of the new church develops and begins to beat.

One of the things that my team and I spend a lot of time doing in investing into leaders and families through this journey of discipleship to help leaders and their families have a life and family worth imitating.  We simply invest in to others what has been invested in to us that have allowed us to experience and reproduce significant personal, family, and organizational breakthrough over the last 6 years.

In our next blog of this series we will look at the “heartbeat”…..everything the new church will ever be is present in the heartbeat.

Would love to hear your thoughts, feedback, and reflections.

Peace, Chad.