If you browse through Amazon you will find a huge range of books outlining strategies for Church Growth, Church Planting, modelling Campus Church, developing Mega Church, Cell Church, Simple Church etc. etc. etc…. but what if the vision that God is growing within you doesn’t quite fit with these particular models?
I’d like to share with you one of the tools/frameworks that we have developed to help us – as Vision Team at One Church – consider the various stages that we go through when establishing a new Expression of One Church – irrespective of shape and size. It’s not a formula to be followed, but a framework to help with thinking, discussion and planning. For some Expressions – such as setting up a Mums and Toddler Group you might move through the stages very quickly – whereas for other Expressions, such as planting or repurposing a Church each stage may take months – however, the principles are the same.
Stage 1 – The Deal – it’s at this stage where all the background work is done – where opportunities are explored and prayed through, intercessors are first brought in and plans developed. It has really helped us to work through the ‘6 Initial Steps’ which form the core of this stage. As we progress through this stage we openly talk about what step we feel we have reached, conversations often take the form of ‘I think we have reached step 3 on Expression X – but we are still at step 1 with Expression Y.’
Alongside the various administrative and management activities it’s vital that we allow the apostolic gift to rise all the way through Stage 1 – it ensures that we don’t get dragged down in the management detail, and that we keep our sights firmly on the direction that God is setting for us.
Stage 2 – Building the Environment – here we’ve moved from ‘Clinching The Deal’ through to ‘on-site’ working (to use building terminology). Laying foundations and building the framework – this early work is key to establishing/constructing something that is long-lasting and sustainable. The key prominent gifts here are those of the Prophet, Teacher and Pastor. The Prophet is able to speak into what they ‘see’. Teams need to be built – here the Teaching gift works hard to prepare and skill people for the work ahead. The work is hard (breaking ground often is) and for many it can be very stretching – but exciting! The Pastoral gift keeps a watch on people, ensuring that the workers are encouraged and cared for. These are the pioneers!
Stage 3 – Settling In – if you have ever moved into a new house you will know that it takes time and effort to ‘settle-in’ and to learn to live in the new environment – an exciting time. However, ‘settling in’ cannot lead to merely just ‘settling’ – the very reason why the Expression has been established is to connect with the community around – here the gift of the Evangelist will become prominent – encouraging the team to reach out to those around them, encouraging the expression to grow.
Stage 4 – Maturing – We’ve moved in, the Expression has found its feet and is ‘hitting a rhythm’ and in turn starting to think and pray about planting new Expressions – and so the cycle starts again…