I am passionate about church planting. But in today’s world, the way it has been approached in the past is no longer effective. Research bears out that a parent/partner model is key. Allow me to share some crucial insights about church planting that I’ve come across in my own research.

Gabe Barreiro

A new kind of leader is needed for planting churches today. Traditional pastoral training has primarily been focused on the ability to be a caregiver, a spiritual counselor who looks after the private, personal, inner spiritual needs of individuals.1 The church must now “identify leaders who are missionally and cross-culturally trained and who can operate in a pluralistic environment.”2

Many of our emerging leaders need to unlearn habits from a pastoral and attractional ministry model. These emerging leaders rarely have “incarnated deep within a local host community, slowly and deliberately, where unbelievers can see the nature and quality of the embodied gospel in community.”3

The development of missional leaders for today and for the future is one of the great priorities for our Foursquare movement. In addition, the multiplication of churches is equally important in this new era when the church in the West finds itself exiled and pushed out to the margins of society.

In this context, the Christian gospel becomes “one element in a society which has pluralism as its reigning ideology.”4 The gospel becomes a personal value, and discipleship is reduced to a person’s private life. “This constitutes a fundamental betrayal of the message of Jesus Christ, of him crucified and raised, and of the coming Kingdom.”5

Since 2009 in Foursquare, church planting has no longer been a national program—it is now the responsibility of each of our districts to serve alongside the local churches that are showing natural multiplication potential.

When I speak of church planting, it is assumed that the Holy Spirit is sovereign in the missionary work of initiating and sustaining the formation of new congregations. I’m not proposing an industrial way forward, but a partnership with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is charged with assimilation of the gospel into the life of the community of believers. “The Holy Spirit’s central work is in the reproducing of disciples and communities of faith to the ends of the earth.”6

Therefore, the goal of each district is to foster an environment and develop training that enfranchises all the churches to see themselves as parents and partners in multiplication. What if every church in our districts catches the vision? Is church planting becoming a grassroots movement again?

I want to propose five ways in which your local church can become a parent and partner for church planting:

  • Pray for and develop a big vision that supports church planting on the local, national or global stage.
  • Start a line item in your church budget for church planting support.
  • Be willing to open the doors of your facility to a church plant.
  • Cast the vision in your church for church planting by having a church planter share their story as a way of giving fresh vision to a new generation of church planters.
  • Be open to change, and sponsor contextual innovations in church planting.

To read the works from which I culled my research on church planting, check out these titles:

[1] The Missional Leader by Alan Roxburgh and Fred Romanuk
[2] LeadershipNext by Eddie Gibbs
[3] The Road to Missional by Michael Frost
[4] The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society by Lesslie Newbigin
[5] “What Does It Mean for a Congregation to Be a Hermeneutic?” a paper by John G. Flett, written for the Missiology Lectures, 2014, Fuller Theological Seminary 
[6] Invitation to World Missions by Timothy Tennent