A different type of church plant

Posted: September 4, 2013 by efenster in Ideas, Stories
Tags: , , ,

church-plantingThe Indiana Conference has a number of church planting projects.  For example, Rev. Daniel Payton is planting Riverside UMC in Jeffersonville.  The congregation will be launching public services in the Clark County YMCA.  Rev. Alex Hershey is planting The Branches Community UMC in Avon.  It launches public worship this fall.

The Church Development Committee of the Indiana Conference just approved a grant for another church plant.  This one, called Kristo’s Hands and Feet, is located in a highly multi-ethnic community on Fort Wayne’s south side and is being led by St. Joseph UMC.   Rather than using an attractional planting model, however, Kristo’s is using a disciple-making model.  This model is highly relational, developing relationships with those living in the target area through contacts that happen naturally rather than through attractional events or worship services.  The intent is that the relationships will  foster disciples making disciples who make disciples, and out of these relationships will come regular opportunities for corporate worship.

There are seven key elements that will be used to assimilate and disciple those being reached [provided by Kristo’s leadership]:

  • First . . . We will seize the Mission of Jesus . . . Tim Dearborn writes, “It is not the church of God that has a mission in the world, but the God of mission who has a church in the world.”  To be successful, from the very beginning, we must help our sending church, our team of volunteers, our developing team of leaders and staff, and those we are discipling, truly understand how we can align ourselves so that we will start a church with God’s mission and not our own. God is the initiator of the mission, Jesus Christ is the embodiment of the mission, the Holy Spirit is the power of the mission and we the church are the instrument of the mission.  The church does not have the function of mission.  It exists for mission. Therefore, we must understand that we do not start churches that will make disciples as one of its functions. We will make disciples that will plant churches.

John Edmond Kaiser said this, “The object is not to find them, gather them, or improve them.  The object is to make them.”  Strategically, according to Matthew 28:19-20, we will do five things:

  1. We will Go . . . Get out there.  We have been sent. Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, I also send you.”  John 20. “Jesus was a friend of sinners.”  We must go to them, hang out with them, serve them, and bless them.
  2. We will Make Disciples . . . Jesus said to Peter and Andrew in Matthew 4:19, “Come follow me and I will show you how to fish for people.”  He didn’t say, follow me and your life will be easy, or follow me and I will meet your needs, or follow me and you will experience great community together.  We conclude that if we are truly following Jesus, we will make disciples.  Every person on our team and every person who will become part of the church will be taught that from the very beginning of their journey, even before they come to faith.
  3. We will Baptize . . . On the authority given to Him by His Father, Jesus told us to do it and we will.
  4. We will Teach . . . All that Jesus commanded starting with the Gospels, reading about the life of Jesus so that those who are learning to follow Jesus, would pass on what they are learning to others. “Making disciples who make disciples.”
  5. We will teach them to Obey . . . As leaders we ourselves will obey the commandments and teach others to do the same. John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”  “He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.”
  • Second . . . We will Adopt Missional Thinking and Behaviors . . . Missional transformation is a process of discovery that begins when believers recognize their responsibility to align themselves (passions, desires, behaviors, habits) with the missionary purpose of Jesus. This is a critical part of our strategy.  Before we can transform any community, the sending church, as well as those being sent to the harvest field, and the very people we will disciple, need to understand that there must be a shift in the way they think and the way they behave. This is not a minor shift. Therefore, one of the first parts of our strategy is to help our expanding team make some radical shifts.
    1.  Radical Adjustment . . . in the way we relate to unreached people.   We don’t expect them to come to us.  We have been sent to them.
    2. Realigning of our Daily Activities . . . Intentionality in the way we plan our daily routines, the places we will go, and the things we will engage in.
    3. Relevant Approaches

. . . Doing things that allow us to build relationships with people that do not yet know Jesus.

  1. Redemptive Action . . . To extend God’s grace to the lost, the last, and the least.
  2. Rethinking our Approach to Evangelism . . . Focusing on alignment, not on assignment.  The Great Commission is not a task that needs to be completed or an assignment we must finish. It is an alignment with the mission of Jesus.  It is a mission that involves multiple zip codes, and multiple circles of influence and accountability.  It is a mission focused on making disciples rather than recording decisions.
  • Third . . . We will Exegete the Culture . . . Hebrews 13:13 in the Message Translation says, “Let’s go outside where Jesus is, where the action is – not trying to be privileged insiders, but taking our share in the abuse of Jesus. The ‘insider world’ is not our home.”  Ministry to unchurched people, especially to those who are culturally, or socio-economically different than we are requires us to acknowledge the reality that we are not the privileged insiders, but rather we are outsiders in their world.
  1. We will strategically and intentionally seek to discover what is unique about our harvest field and those people we will serve and share the Gospel with.
  2. We will seek to understand the specific cultural groups so that we can make good decisions as we head into our mission.
  3. Reading demographic research reports is not enough. Simply finding a building to operate out of or actually living in the community is not enough.
  4. We will engage people by coming alongside them (ethnographic research) as they are doing life.  Loving them, working with them, caring about the things they care about, becoming one with them.
  5. Currently, the Kristo’s Hands and Feet team is already vitally involved in this process by walking the streets, knocking on doors, visiting with neighbors, serving and meeting needs, praying with people, offering hope, participating in community activity, and meeting other members of the harvest force who are also serving in the community.
  6. It is our belief that this work already in progress will also raise up an extended number of team members who may have a passion and the expertise, as well as, the cultural identity to serve additional circles of influence.
  • Fourth . . . We will Incarnate the Gospel. . . In John 1:14 in the Message Translation it says, “Jesus put on flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.”  Likewise, the Kristo’s Hands and Feet team will continue to intentionally move into the community and put flesh on the Gospel.
  1. We will embody the mission and message of Jesus by existing freely within the various cultures as missionaries who are faithful to the Father and His Gospel just like Jesus was.
  2. We will live within the culture, learn the language and adopt cultural ways.
  3. We will posture ourselves as servants. (John 13)
  4. We will position ourselves in humility. (Philippians 2)
  5. We will practice by imitating Jesus, doing what He did, being His hands and feet.
  6. We will serve, love, sacrifice, preach, endure, care, pray, bless and give just like Jesus did.
  7. ”We will proclaim Him admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.  To this end I labor, struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me.” (Colossians 1:28-19)
  • Fifth . . . We will Multiply Disciple Makers . . . Discipleship is not a class or a program that a new believer enrolls in. Making disciples is something that every believer has been called to do. Jesus in the Great Commission said, “As you are going (translation – Living and Breathing and Doing Life) make disciples.” Once again, it is imperative that the sending church, everyone on the team, and everyone we are reaching out to, need to understand that God has called all of us to make disciples.  He has given all of us specific circles of influence where we can personally join people on their journey of becoming a disciple of Jesus. Yet, we are not doing it, because we either don’t understand this command of Jesus, or we simply don’t know how, and we are afraid to try. We are still living in an old paradigm where we invite people to an event where a professional minister will teach them what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.  And at best it only results in a first generation disciple.

For this reason we will endeavor to teach what it means to make disciples who make disciples.  We will embrace and teach the conviction that . . .

  1. Discipleship does not begin with conversion – It begins before.
  2. Discipleship starts with the lost.
  3. If we start at the macro level it will not reproduce.
  4. Reproduction starts with the micro level.
  5. From the harvest field we will move people from:
    • The non-disciple
    • To the disciple
    • To the disciple maker
    • To the disciple  making leader
    • To the disciple making coach/mentor
    • To the pastor, church planter, missionary
    • To the leader of church multiplication movements
  6. Discipleship is a Journey. The Kristo’s Hands and Feet project has designed a multi-faceted missional communities pathway built around specific cultural circles of influence that defines how we will make disciples and when and where we will start.  This will be further defined along with projected timelines under section (g)
  • Sixth . . . We will form Missional Communities and the Church . . . Tom Cheyney reminds us in this statement. “When the Gospel is planted, as Paul puts it in I Corinthians 3:6-7, ‘It is God who makes it grow.’  When one focuses on planting the gospel among unreached people he becomes open to God’s process for building His church.  On the other hand, when we focus on the planting of a church over the planting of the gospel, our focus can become organizational, programmatic, and institutional. Therefore, we will focus on the planting of the gospel.”

The focus of Kristo’s Hands And Feet is really not so much on the planting of a church, but on the planting of the gospel to a multicultural community located in the inner city of Ft. Wayne, IN.  When this gospel takes root and grows into people’s lives and Christ changes their lives, then . . .

  1. They can actually do Christian Community.
  2. They actually become a church.
  •  Seventh . . . We will mobilize leaders and teams . . . We will strive to multiply our leadership by creating solid reproducible methods for raising up indigenous leaders from our own harvest field.  Our leadership culture will look like this:
  1. Our leadership team will be a model of ethnic and cultural diversity.
  2. Our leaders will develop a life-long commitment to learning . . . This encourages a corporate learning culture.
  3. Our leaders will be committed to authenticity . . .  We will create an environment where who you are is more important than what you do for God.
  4. Our leaders will have a servant’s heart . . .  committed to serving the Lord, his church and his people.
  5. Our leaders will be accountable . . . Personal accountability must be mutually required and pursued.
  6. Our leaders will participate in Intentional Development . . . Healthy leaders will reproduce healthy leaders and the church will only grow at the speed of its leadership. Personal spiritual growth cannot be delegated.  It must be developed in the same way that Jesus did it.
  1. Debbie says:

    What an exciting ministry of which to be a part!

  2. I love this about your church planting in lower economic areas:”Kristo’s is using a disciple-making model.” That is definitely how we get it done here in Chicago and your post was very encouraging. We’ll be praying for your ministry and all the work you are doing. Keep it up!

    -Tasha, The Bridge Chicago

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