This is the third post in my series on how The Church at Brook Hills is preparing and sending church planting teams to North America. I encourage you to read the previous two posts. They likely will answer questions that may come from reading this post.
As promised in my last post, I will share about the Inquiring Step.
How do you connect with potential people whom the Spirit may be calling to serve as church planters? While there are different ways, they generally can be placed in two categories: 1) Organic Connections; and 2) Corporate Connections. Both are valid and should be practiced regularly by church leadership.
Organic Connections are those that happen whenever a church member stops you in the hallway to talk, meets you for coffee, or comes to your office to discuss what is on his or her heart. These are the conversations that happen after worship gatherings, in homes, and during fellowship events. They are the unscripted, and sometimes unplanned, meetings. You make yourself available, pray for the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers (Luke 10:2), and wait for the occurrence of such conversations. We have displays set up in our church’s lobby promoting various ministry opportunities. Someone is stationed at these displays before and after Sunday worship gatherings. One of these displays provides information on our church planting activities. Conversations that happen here fall into the organic category.
Corporate Connections are those annually scheduled events when we have a church-wide, organized opportunity for our members to hear about church planting and be challenged to consider this ministry. Our in-house language to describe these events is simply “interest meetings.” Our people know that an interest meeting is just an opportunity to hear, pray, and consider mission opportunities. It is not high pressure or high commitment gathering. These periodic meetings usually last an hour. They allow us to share what the Lord has been doing with our church planting teams, present needs, and cast a vision for future apostolic church planting among unreached people groups.
Whenever an individual or couple approach me to talk about church planting, they have a great deal of questions. This is expected and healthy. The Inquiring Step begins when such conversations take place, regardless of whether they originate from organic or corporate connections. It usually becomes clear that this initial conversation requires additional time. Therefore, we then schedule an hour meeting to pray and discuss what the Spirit may be doing in their lives.
During this private meeting, I try to learn about the person or couple (e.g., conversion, background, gifts, interests, history with Brook Hills) and what the Spirit has been revealing regarding church planting. I also take time to teach them about the biblical expression of church planting and cast a vision for where we are going as a church. I share our church’s Pathway to the Field. A great deal of time is spent with both parties asking and answering questions.
Sometimes this meeting reveals that church planting is the future direction. Sometimes nothing is clear to both parties; so, we wait, pray, and talk again in the future. Sometimes this meeting reveals that the man is called to be a pastor and not a church planter. If that is the case, then I point him to our church’s process of pastoral training (I also oversee this ministry.). Sometimes it is clear that neither church planting nor pastoral ministry are future options.
I consider all of these outcomes as Kingdom wins. They allow me to shepherd our people in a direction the Spirit is leading–even if that direction is not with a church planting team. These are often encouraging times when the Lord points people to more and fruitful ministry opportunities.
However, if it seems as if the Spirit is leading this church member to the field as a church planter, then our next step is to provide our Points to Ponder List. This is a list of 19 points (There are more as you will see; but they are organized into 19 categories.). You may download a copy of the pdf that we provide our members HERE.
This is a list of statements and questions to get members praying, thinking, and talking about their future directions of serving among unreached people groups in North America. I give members a week to pray, ponder, and discuss this list. At the conclusion of this time, if they feel comfortable moving forward in our Pathway to the Field, then we meet again to then begin the Equipping and Assessing Steps.