Church Planting: Systems Thinking

In the San Francisco Bay Area, leaders with whom I connect are working together to frame a more comprehensive and unified approach to starting new churches. For several years now, we have been fashioning aspects of a church planting system, but we are newly implementing it as a whole.  

The system exists to start as many healthy churches as possible among as many peoples as possible all around the San Francisco Bay Area.

It functions as an integrative system of six subsystems: A Research System, an Evangelization System, a Recruiting System, an Equipping System, a Resourcing System, and a Connections System. Four values permeate the whole: prayer, reproduction, evaluation and celebration. 

 The values and the subsystems are applied a little differently for various kinds of new churches. For example, a church among an unreached refugee group would be evaluated, celebrated, and resourced according to different criteria than a church started in a new, middle-class, English speaking suburban community. The subsystems we have defined are:

A Research System seeks to observe, discover and help interpret new information regarding the peoples, social structures, relational networks, geographies, and spiritual climate of our region. It operates both in response to questions already being asked by church planting leaders, and by posing new questions and challenges as needed.

An Evangelization System engages in specific opportunities designed to widely sow the Gospel in ways that best result in disciple making. New followers are then gathered into communities that become churches. This involves sowing gospel seeds, harvesting in the present and reaping in the future. This subsystem addresses our own region specifically, while also acknowledging global opportunities.

A Recruiting System generally promotes church planting in our region. It identifies and raises up indigenous church planters and attracts, assesses, screens, and selects leaders from outside of our area.  It also enlists church planting team members, partner churches and volunteers to assist with various roles within the Church Planting Multiplication System.

An Equipping System mentors, trains and guides church planters and church planting teams in church planting skills. It also equips volunteers and others who carry out functions that support church planting through various subsystem activities.

A Resource System supports church planting and extends care to church planters by creating and making available various kinds of expertise, family services, financial support, and other assets or gifts. It is responsive to common church planting needs, and seeks to implement creative new initiatives that can help church planting thrive where we live and work.

A Connections System assists new church planters and new churches to become involved and integrated into healthy kingdom networks, including healthy relationships with nearby churches, local church associations, denominational missions agencies, and cooperative missions opportunities. It also helps existing churches to absorb fresh insights and helpful practices from new churches.

The Church Multiplication System is driven by strategists and others who catalyze church planting. It is meant to serve church planting and church planters. Are we missing anything?  Church planters, what do you need most?