This is the second post in this series on how The Church at Brook Hills is sending church planting teams to the North American context. See my previous post for the necessary background information.
It is important to understand the big picture–what we call the Pathway to the Field. Churches of all sizes need a strategy to move the called-out ones from the seats to the soils. We have found that the pathway metaphor is helpful to both church leaders and those being sent as church planting teams. A path is a means to get from one location to another location. It is a marked route to follow. A path provides a sense of progress, especially when that path contains stages showing movement.
While there are exceptions, a team walks this pathway for about one year before being sent from the church. Our pathway contains five steps: 1) Inquiring; 2) Equipping; 3) Assessing; 4) Commissioning; and 5) Partnering:
I plan to share more in future posts about the contents of each step. For now, here is a brief summary:
The Inquiring Step begins when members ask the personal questions about calling, church planting, unreached people groups, leaving Birmingham, Brook Hills’ process of sending teams, etc.. The felt-needs-related questions, that you can imagine, begin at this step. Members gather information and ask for prayer related to the Spirit’s work in their hearts.
The Equipping Step involves our means of preparing teams with the needed head (knowledge), heart (character/affections), and hands (practical) components of church planting.
The Assessing Step includes matters related to the team understanding how they have developed as leaders, individuals, spouses, evangelists, teachers, and servants. Two things are important to note at this point. First, the Equipping and Assessing Steps are interdependent. What we learn about a team while they are being assessed, affects how we equip them. We have baseline training for all teams, but the revelation of strengths and limitations customizes our equipping of each team. Second, we send teams, not individuals (or just a husband and wife). This means teams are equipped and assessed in community together.
The Commissioning Step is the day of celebration for our faith family. This is the time when prayer cards are distributed to the church. During our worship gatherings, elders and small group members place hands on the team members as the church prays. It is also a time when church members are challenged to join the team (or form other teams) and serve with them.
The Partnering Step continues as long as the team is on the field. Each team has an Advocacy Team that is regularly praying for them and communicating with them. Strategy development, mentoring, and coaching meetings occur every month. Field-based training, cultural acquisition, and language learning are also provided. An elder is in frequent contact with the team and provides member care. Every team receives at least one field visit from a church member each year. Short-term trips are done in conjunction with the team. Since we do not provide income for our U.S. team members (We expect them to use their marketable degrees/skills, thus freeing up money for our international teams in areas of greater need.), we do assist them in relocating to the field and cover ministry expenses based on the team’s church planting strategy.
You do not have to follow our pathway to the field. But what is your church’s process of getting people to the unreached people groups in North America (and beyond)? If such a process is not in place, then begin seeking the Spirit’s guidance for your church’s possible pathway to the field.
In my next post, I plan to share details related to our Inquiring Step. Stay tuned.