Why is MNA committed to church planting?
Because it is the biblical means for spreading the Gospel. God loves the church and has ordained her to be the agent of redemption in the world. From the beginning of the established church, missionaries have started new congregations from which to share the Gospel to a desperate and hurting world.
Because it is strategic. Church planting is also the most effective way of introducing the Gospel to the unchurched. New churches are far more likely than established churches to forge connections in a local community through new ministries, which provide a platform to share the Gospel and impact the culture. Statistics show that people accept Christ far more often in new church plants than in established churches.
How does MNA facilitate church planting?
- MNA leaders have formulated a unifying vision, which can be implemented at all levels of church planting ministry in the denomination
- MNA provides services to those seeking to be church planting catalysts (church planting networks, presbyteries, individual churches) or those seeking to pursue church planting. MNA’s experienced and increasingly specialized staff provide on a denominational level services such as church planter development and recruiting, assessment, assistance with placement, training, coaching, and fundraising consultation.
- MNA provides forums for leaders in church planting across the PCA to gather for the sharing of ideas, for further leadership training and for creating and carrying out the North American vision for church planting.
How does MNA assist in recruiting church planters?
There are several ways MNA assists in recruiting potential church planters. Jim Hatch networks on seminary and college campuses across North America to heighten awareness of church planting opportunities in the PCA as well as to work with interested students to mentor and encourage their development in areas shown to be necessary for successful church planting. Alan Foster works with churches, presbyteries and networks to identify and recruit men to plant churches.
Jim Hatch and Alan Foster stay in contact with ordained men who have gained ministry experience in established churches or in parachurch organizations who may want to pursue a call to church planting.
The PCA has many established congregations committed to mentoring men in ministry skills through formal or informal church planter apprenticeship programs. These men are given hands-on experience in facets of church life and ministry leadership that prepare them more fully for pastoral and church planting roles in the future. There are PCA congregations who also play a pivotal role in training and encouraging lay leadership to pursue full-time ministry, which has brought some to the role of church planter through an unexpected, yet God-ordained, mid-life career change.
Leadership and Ministry Preparation (LAMP), led by Brian Kelso, offers training and mentoring for church planting. Contact Brian at 954-816-5813, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Making people aware of the need for church planters is key, and MNA is always seeking ways to encourage men with appropriate calling and gifting to consider church planting. Through conferences, written materials such as Multiply (MNA’s quarterly newsmagazine), and speaking opportunities presented to MNA’s staff, the goal is to get the word out that our denomination is seeking to grow the Kingdom through healthy, biblical church planting ministry.
If you would like to speak to someone about pursuing church planting in the future, please contact Jim Hatch at 314-308-4226 or email@example.com
If you would like assistance in identifying and recruiting church planters, please contact Alan Foster at 678-232-8049 or firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are currently in ministry and would like to hear more about church planting, please contact MaryEllen Garofalo at email@example.com
How can MNA help me determine if I am called to and gifted for church planting?
Years of doctoral level research by former MNA staff member Allen Thompson shows that there are certain skill sets and God given abilities that are crucial to successfully launching a new congregation. The PCA has long been in the forefront of assessing potential church planters and in giving practical guidance as to how a potential church planter can strengthen skill sets as well as gain maturity and practical experience through the use of a learning contract. Attending an MNA sponsored or credentialed Church Planter Assessment Center is a wise step before pursuing church planting and is required before being considered for such a role in many of our presbyteries. You might also find the tab “Is Church Planting for Me?” helpful in asking some self-diagnostic questions as you try to discern God’s leading.
Besides Assessment, there are Church Planter Readiness Seminars offered at several seminaries, specifically designed for students still pursuing formal seminary education. The Readiness Seminar can help a student determine whether church planting may be an appropriate ministry fit, and also help him develop a learning contract that will address specific issues of ministry experience, calling, and skills development that may need to be resolved before pursuing church planting.
Another opportunity provided by MNA is training conferences. Check the web site for the various conferences and training events that MNA offers on an ongoing basis. Attendance at these conferences is not only an excellent way to educate yourself about church planting, but a chance to rub shoulders with those who are committed to it.
What training opportunities are available for potential church planters?
MNA provides training at many different levels for potential church planters as well as ongoing training for those who pursue church planting.
Church Planter Readiness Seminars
Church Planter Readiness Seminars are offered regularly at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia, and Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando. Others will be added when there is sufficient demand. The weekend seminars allow for exploration of church planting roles, self-evaluation, and external observations of participants through the use of references to gain a perspective on church planting as well as identification of gifts and ministry skills.
Church Planter Assessment Centers
Church Planter Assessment Centers (MNA-sponsored or credentialed) offer in-depth feedback regarding your sense of call, competencies, and character development. The three-day assessment is for couples (if married), and is often seen as the most useful ministry evaluation and confirmation of ministry direction that participants receive in their entire lifetime.
Training conferences are regularly sponsored by MNA, bringing together a staff of experienced church planters who bring fresh insight and passion to their topics. Check for conferences currently scheduled by clicking on the Conferences button on the Church Planting home page.
For potential candidates who have been assessed positively as potential church planters but need further experience, formal church planter apprenticeships to hone skills and gain maturity are available under the mentorship of experienced church planters. Usually two to three years in length, the apprenticeships provide experience and mentoring that are extremely valuable in preparing a church planter for ministry.
coaching and mentoring relationships
Once in the field, it is essential to maintain coaching and mentoring relationships during the church planting phase. MNA Church Planting Staff not only personally provide coaching to active church planters, but also offer training to others who have this role in the life of a church planter. Church Planting Spouses Ministry Director Denine Blevins provides similar services for church planting wives. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to hear more about Church Planter Readiness Seminars, the Church Planter Assessment Center, training conferences, or Church Planter Apprenticeships, please email Chris Bolton at email@example.com.
If you would like to hear more about Church Planter Coaching, please email Doug Swagerty at firstname.lastname@example.org
How can my church be involved in supporting the vision for church planting with MNA?
First, pray to the Lord of the harvest for more workers. At any given time, there are dozens of groups of people around the country seeking guidance in finding a qualified church planter for their community. There are also many strategic sites identified by presbyteries, networks, and MNA staff currently not served by or underserved by the PCA.
Second, make use of the resources MNA provides:
- Make sure that your congregation is on the mailing list for Multiply. MNA will provide as many copies of Multiply as you desire to distribute to your congregation and will add names to the mailing list at no cost upon request.
- Consider asking MNA staff to speak at your missions conferences.
- Find out about local church planting from your MNA Presbytery Chairman (e-mail MNA at email@example.com to find out the name of your chairman), and then highlight those new congregations in your times of prayer during worship.
Third, speak to your presbytery chairman about how you can, as a congregation, be involved in fulfilling the strategic plan for your presbytery. Depending on proximity, there are many ways an established congregation can come alongside a new church plant to offer tangible support and encouragement.
Fourth, prayerfully consider sharing some of your congregation’s financial resources in a ministry of church planting. As you might imagine, there are real financial needs that go hand in hand with building a new congregation, and the support of established churches in this adventure of faith is crucial.
Finally, make opportunities in your church’s life to pray for specific church planters and potential target sites for future church planting. At its core, church planting is a spiritual endeavor, and prayer support is vital.
For information on how to pray for specific current church plants, subscribe to Intercessor, our quarterly email prayer guide.
To add your church family to the eMultiply subscription list, please subscribe here.
To hear about specific financial needs in church plants, or how you can support the work of MNA financially, please email Fred Marsh at firstname.lastname@example.org