As part of our commitment to living out a faithful witness of the Christian faith, we are very serious about doing our part to expand the reach of God’s kingdom in West Ohio.
We have learned that any denomination that hopes to grow must start new congregations and satellites at a brisk rate if they hope to keep pace with the culture.
The vision, our dream, is to have a self-perpetuating congregational multiplication movement, supported with conference systems. Here’s how it would work.
A healthy congregation begins to cultivate a vision of church multiplication. That church begins to pray, to dream and vision, to plan, to strategize, to discuss the possibilities for becoming a church planting church. After much prayer and discernment, and after going through a process of assessment, education, training, the congregation may launch a new worshipping congregation. The goal is that the parent church and/or the daughter church will launch another church within 7 years of the first launch. That is, the dream is that a particular congregation can be not only the parent of one new church, but can in effect become a church multiplication center. This dream is consistent with the Biblical process of church planting in the days of the early Christian church (Acts 13). We dream that our conference can supply the structure and resources to help local churches live into such an awesome vision.
We have a dream that within 20 years, we will have reached a launch rate of 20 new sites/congregations per year. We believe this is possible, but will take some patience in the next 5-7 years as we develop systems and leadership to make this possible.
WHERE WE ARE NOW
Rate of new starts
Right now, we have approximately 20 new worshipping congregations/worshipping sites that have begun since the year 2000. We have increased in recent years from 1 or 2 successful new starts per year to 3 or 4. This year we expect to begin approximately 3 congregations or new worshipping sites.
Team in place
We have a New Church Development Team that was established in 2005. This team which is just now expanding (’07), consists of pastors and laity, who have experience in successfully starting a new church or new site of an existing church. This expertise will be foundational to the implementation of the New Church Strategy.
NEW CHURCH STRATEGY- How to begin to achieve that dream
Our strategy focuses on congregations “birthing” new church sites. With this emphasis, parent churches give resources (e.g. leadership, people, financial, etc) to the daughter church. Having a parent congregation is an important factor that maximizes the chances for a successful start.
Additionally, we are beginning to work on implementing systems that can support church planters. The following are at various stages of development in our conference:
- Assessment of New Church Start Pastors: We are well into working out a system for assessing the gifts, graces, and readiness of a new church/site pastor.
- New Church Boot Camp and other preparatory training.
- Ongoing training: We will identify training events for current new church/site pastors and be a resource for leading and finding those events.
- Leadership Development: We will expand our work with the potential and current new site/church pastors with support systems for training, coaching, funding, etc.
- Coaching/Consulting for all new starts: We are working out a system such that there is an experienced church planter who can coach/consult with each new church start pastor in the planning, launching, and early years of that start
- Retreats for new church start pastors
- Site visits to encourage and coach new churches/new sites.
- Funding: Continue process for funding new church starts which includes pastor assessment, training, coaching, site visits
- Church Planting Network: We would like to establish a ‘church planting network’ that would include 100 congregations who are committed to either starting a second campus or satellite or providing financial, membership, or staff resources to assist with a new start (From Bishop Ough’s Episcopal Address, Annual Conference, 2001)