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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Church Planting The Next Generation by Kevin W. Mannoia

A while ago I read Church Planting The Next Generation by Kevin W. Mannoia. This book presents an overarching system to foster rapid church planting on a large scale. The sole focus of the book is for churches (specifically the Free Methodist Church) to work together through the predefined Century 21 Church Planting System. Ultimately the purpose is to create a environment or ethos for church planting within networks of churches. It is highly practical and descriptive of how to implement the small steps that make up the larger movement of finding, training and launching successful church planters. 

Ed Stetzer at the very end of his book Planting New Churches in a Postmodern Age, references the Century 21 Church Planting System (page 334-335). He writes: "Many groups and denominations have adopted these systems, and they have helped raise church planting capacity. More churches are being started, and more of them are being successful." To get such an endorsement signifies the value of this book and the structure that Mannoia brings to the table.

He writes that the Profile Assessment component "raises the success rate of new churches by focusing on the most important ingredient -- the planter" (p67). The book points out that using a well designed assessment process for potential planters increases the success rate of a new church to 90%. The best way to know how someone will act in the future is to find out how they behaved in the past -- hence the value of assessment. This was illustrated well by a story of an unintentional assessment. One leader, after just being appointed as a church planter, was used as a test subject to help new assessors to be trained. The data from the assessment recommended that he not be deployed as a church planter. He found greater reward in a ministry better suited. The cost and significance of church planting are too great to risk sending the wrong dude.

Mannoia makes a strong case for the intentional funding of church plants. "Fund your church planting efforts, whatever you do. It's your future, to say nothing of the best stewardship of your finances in fulfilling the Great Commission. Planting should have a significant presence in the general operational budget." (p116) Yes! This is music to my ears. Intentional funding of church plants, along with the selection of the right guy, are big strides towards building church planting momentum. As a church planter you either have time or you have money -- you don't have both. But, in the environment being proposed here we see the possibility to be more financially stable earlier on. This shouldn't remove the faith element of starting a new church, but it should allow more fruitfulness at a faster pace. I am praying hard for sufficent funding of our church plant in Chicago. 

The Century 21 Church Planting System works like this:
  • Parent Church Network: A group of local churches start to develop a vision for church planting
  • Profile Assessment System: Objectively measure the skills of potential planters
  • New Church Incubator: A coaching fellowship for planters
  • Pastor Factory: Train laypeople to become founding pastors
  • Church Planters' Summit: An event to initiate new candidates
  • Maturing Church Cluster: Specialized support for new churches over a year old
  • Strategic Planning Network: A network of pastors who focus on strengthening churches and planting new churches
  • Harvest 1000: A fund raising effort for planting churches
  • Meta-Church Network: Clusters of churches helping to train people through small group ministries
This system is indepth and requires some reflection and discussion in order to grasp its true value. Here are some one liners from the book that caught my eye:
  1. Church planting cannot be tagged on -- it must be intentional and planned for. It must be woven into everything, p14.
  2. Church planting is the life-blood of our future, p19.
  3. Prayer is the foundation to church planting, p25.
  4. Church planting can get a bad name because it changes the status, p35. 
  5. Plan for discouragement after church launch, p48.
  6. If you don't constantly recruit leaders, the network will deteriorate, p86.
  7. Mission-driven churches attract mission minded people and produce mission, p90.
  8. The most difficult step is to think differently about church planting, p166.
  9. Anything not connected to the mission should be revamped or stopped, p172.
This book should give a church planter a much broader perspective than just claiming a small patch of ground for himself. This macro-system should produce a vision for city wide church planting that is urgent, faster and more successful. By collaborating with like-minded people we should be able to multiply church planting efforts much more effectively to increase the noise in heaven (See Revelation 7)!

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