Coming from different parts of the U.S., the church planters gathered in Orlando for practical training from Converge leaders, where they learned the basics of starting a church.
“We want to help you mitigate on the front end not to make some of these big mistakes and help point out where the landmines are so that you don’t trip and blow yourself up.”
“The focal point is on the nuts and bolts to get your church to the grand opening,” Stephenson said. “The goal is to create a solid foundation so that your church can grow quicker than it would otherwise.”
Planters learned how to:
Develop a prayer strategy
Recruit and equip their launch team
Build a financial structure that creates sustainability
Maximize the guest experience
Design a weekend experience that connects their community
Become a legal entity
Develop an effective marketing plan
Stephenson said it’s helpful when a planter brings a few bought-in team members to Church Planting 101 because it allows them to see what is required to get the church up and running. Then, they tend to own the mission more and help alleviate pressure on the planter during the launch process, he added.
In addition to the training, church planters have an opportunity to meet and build relationships with other planters who are on the same journey.
Stephenson says a few things they discuss during Church Planting 101 have changed because of the pandemic.
One thing they now discuss is how metrics have changed because of COVID-19. Some things you would typically count — attendance, discipleship, engagement and giving — you cannot count the same or at least not put as much weight behind those metrics.
The other thing is talking about the importance of digital church. “What are some of the unique challenges, and where is this going to lead in the next 10 years?” Stephenson said. “You can’t ignore it. You’ve got to try to figure out how to work with it.
“It’s about priming the pump and helping planters realize that they’ve got to think out of the box,” he added. “That’s the gift that a church planter brings to church leadership. He tends to be on the cutting edge of what’s moving and where the church is going.”
Stephenson says the principles taught at Church Planting 101 work no matter where you’re planting, whether you’re in a rural or urban setting.
Filling the pipeline of church planting coaches
Every leader needs a coach, and every leader is a coach. Converge’s national and district teams are continually working to create coaching pathways to build up new leaders.
“The return on your investment of having a coach, whether you are in the secular field or the church world, is exponential when it comes to the overall impact that a coach brings to the table,” Stephenson said.
Converge built a coach certification platform to bring quality control to the coaching that church planters receive. Each of the 22 experienced church planters completed five weeks of online training before coming to Orlando on March 3 and 4 for in-person training. They also wrote their philosophy of coaching.
The in-person training addressed the specific nuances of what it means to coach a church planter. How do you have this conversation? When should you have this conversation? Why is this conversation more important than this conversation?
“The return on your investment of having a coach, whether you are in the secular field or the church world, is exponential when it comes to the overall impact that a coach brings to the table.”
Now, the 22 church planters are certified Converge church planting coaches.
“We asked them to coach up to the grand opening, then a minimum of a year after the grand opening to maximize their impact,” Stephenson said.
If each of these church plants grows to just 200 people, they will impact more than 62,000 lives. Imagine how God will work in the lives of those 62,000 people and the impact they will make in growing God’s kingdom.