A Church Planting Story - Chapter 3
When Jared and Laura skydived into Seattle in 2014 (not literally, but it was just as scary), they had their plans, their dreams, and their expectations. Piled on top of their own expectations for success, were those of their church partners, supporters, and coaches.
But moving into Seattle quickly brought a couple of truths to light. Seattleites do not easily fall into relationships with each other. The Kings were moving from Nashville, a highly Christian city where people are open to each other to a place where people are closed and suspicious. The metro area of nearly 4 million people may represent half the state’s population, but many people in Seattle feel completely alone.
To combat their own alone-ness, the Kings purposefully sought out partnerships. An early and important relationship was formed with Epic Life Church, a church with a similar vision that was a few years further along. Epic Life gave the Kings a place to belong while they put down roots and built community. Jared credits this relationship to God, who put Epic Life in their path when they didn’t even know that was what they were needing.
Beyond that, Jared purposefully forced himself into other relationships—with neighbors, with people at the gym, with anyone who might be called into service for Seattle’s lost people. The Sojourn team, a campus ministry group that moved to Seattle to work on the UW campus, brought a much-needed energy and excitement to the groundwork of Missio.
As Jared says about partnerships, “We realized early on that as Church Planters, we had to fight for relationships so that people could fall into relationships where we fought for them. That is how you find partnerships. You fight for them.”
Jared and Laura, in listening for God's call in their life, were pulled toward London, England. They passed Discovery Lab with scores that indicated a high likelihood they could successfully plant a church once they had more experience under their belts.
Kairos helped them secure an apprenticeship with Ethos Church in Nashville, where they could learn how healthy growing church systems function. During that season, the call shifted from London to the Northwest, the heart of post-Christian culture in the US.
When a planter moves to a new city to start a church, we call it parachuting in. It takes time to settle into a new place, build relationships, learn the culture, and allow the dream and plan for the church to form within the new context.
Jared says, " We were going from Sunday-centric Christianity to Sundays being secondary at best. We were going from thousands of Christian relationships to almost none."
The Kings knew there would be challenges in making such a big move, but Seattle was looming large in the future and they needed a plan.
They attended their first Kairos Strategy Lab before moving to Seattle. And their plans looked great on paper. They were able to dream big, to think through the theories of what they hoped to accomplish, to give shape to their dream and make it a plan. Sure, it was all theory, but it was solid theory.
With all their tools in place and a team enthusiastic about moving with them, they moved their family north.
But there comes a place in every story when boots hit the pavement, when expectations crash up against reality, when a person's strength and faith are put to the test.
To be continued . . .
Start with the end in mind (Stephen R. Covey, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change )
We could also start with Genesis 1. As God "in the beginning" forms creation there was, as Paul intimates, a plan for creation conceived and carried out by Jesus, the one by whom all things were created (Colossians 1:16). What both the Bible and Stephen Covey reflect is the idea that something does not come from nothing. There must be something--a conception, an idea, a vision, a dream--that gives rise to the creative event. That idea is the formative essence of vision.
It's well documented that church planters need to be vision casters, people who are able to see so clearly what does not yet exist that others are willing to commit themselves to bring that thing (a new church) about. We feel the idea of vision creation so important that it is one of the central pieces we look for in our church planter assessment (Discovery Lab). We truly believe Charles Ridley is right when he lists vision casting as a knock factor.
In personality theory the Myers-Briggs concept of iNtuition is important. People with the N as their second letter in the MBTI four letter sequence (example ENTP). Aubrey Malphurs lists four MBTI types as strong indicators for church planting success: ENTP, ENTJ, ENFP, and ENFJ. All of them have the iNtuition aspect in their personality. In the DiSC behavioral assessment it is the high DI combination, the Influencer, that tends to have most success in planting new churches. We look to these two instruments to give us starting points for vision casting.
But what then? How does vision really form that is so compelling that even the planter is willing to run the risk of failure just to have the opportunity to see something happen?
We have found Will Mancini's Kingdom Concept a valuable conceptualizing tool for vision development. Mancini sees vision lying at the intersection of Apostolic Esprit, Local Predicament, and Collective Potential. You can download his chapter to get the fuller description of these. Here let's make it even more simple:
The planter's call is the fountain of God's vision
At Kairos we speak of the planter's call as consisting of 3 P's:
1. People. We know that planters are people who love a specific group of people whom God has placed on their heart. Planters love these people so much they are willing to pursue them, seek them out, live among them, and love them. In some respects the People aspect of the call is like the Kingdom Concept's collective potential. A clear, relevant vision is built on knowing the people. Some basic tools you can use to learn your people better are the NAMB Demographics Guide, focus groups, and Conversation and Cuisine events.
2. Place. These people live in a specific place. This Place is not just geographic, it is psychographic--the personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles of the people who live in their community. The Place contains the ideas of Mancini's local predicament. We recommend planters construct a Community Map to help them learn and understand their community. Learn the boundaries and markers of your community that define what it is and both attracts and repels people.
3. Passion. Vision expresses passion; it embodies and gives to passion. Passion is what people feel as the planter casts vision and lets them see something that makes them wish they could experience that new church in reality. It's the passion that releases the energy it takes to do the day to day grunt work that is the building blocks for success. Passion is similar to the Apostolic Esprit. For planters, look back at your Discovery Lab report. We've given you a lot of reflection in that document. You can also see your Myers-Briggs, DiSC and results of your planting Initial Self Assessment for planters.
The Kairos Strategy Lab is the place where we help planters move their vision from their heads and hearts onto paper where others can see it too. The Kairos Strategy Lab Workbook will guide you through the preparation process to get your vision ready so God can use what he has put on your heart to bring about a new church where people can experience His great salvation.
Kairos coaches around three seasons of planting:
Most planters are ready to move from the Groundwork to the Launch season in about a year. By this time he should have his vision developed, his funding in place, have a good support and prayer team, and be in a good coaching rhythm. At this point the planter has developed his root system for the new church. Now it's time to move into the next season of planting: Launch.
We're making two primary assumptions for the Launch phase. One, that the model for the new church will be congregational, this means larger than the single cell, family style context of a house or "organic" church. The goal is to get the new church above the crowd point of 80 people at its launch so it will have the resources to grow. Two, the church will have two primary structural components: missional communities for discipleship and service and a central worship experience for vision and energy. It's the gravitational effect of these two structures that provide the staying and growing power for the new church.
These two assumptions define the goal for the Launch phase: launching the regular worship experience in a way that allows it to average 100+ attendees at its first anniversary.
There's one other assumption we're making in the Launch season: you won't have 100 people you can migrate immediately to jump start the church. If you have a mother church that can do that for you--go for it! Don't be shy. But most planters are going to have to build from the ground up; you can't count on a "just add water" approach for instant church.
The five tasks of Launch season are designed to help you start a church from scratch. Look at the photo above and let's briefly run through each piece.