Do you want to grow your classis and reach new people groups by starting vibrant churches? Here are some best practices that come to us through field experience and the Book of Church Order (Chap. 1, Part II, Art. 8.).
We have found that it is most effective and efficient for individual churches to initiate and oversee church plants. Prospective parents do need classis approval to organize new churches. However, beyond approving proposals for new churches, the classis is most helpful when it plays a supporting and resourcing role in multiplication. Follow the guidelines below for the formation and function of an effective classis church multiplication team (CMT).
- Seek permission from the classis executive team to form a church multiplication team. Be clear about the responsibility and authority this team will have in church planting. Take budget allocation into consideration.
- Recruit both ministry leaders and lay people for your team. Try to find people who demonstrate a passion for reaching out to the lost, kingdom partnerships, and sharing the gospel. Entrepreneurial leaders are also helpful, as are those with a background in real estate. It is a good idea for the CMT to welcome church planters into its meetings until their plants are organized. This will help with communication and build planters’ field wisdom.
- Give the group up to a year to develop core values and explore best practices in church multiplication before expecting them to begin reporting to the classis executive team. Encourage them to use this time for prayer, seeking God’s direction, and alignment of vision.
- Ensure that a member of the classis executive team and a regional leader are invited to CMT meetings.
- Do not place term limits on CMT membership. This will help you establish a continuity of wisdom and passion for church planting.
- The CMT should meet at least once quarterly. Some may meet monthly as capacity increases.
- Prayer: Planting often challenges people spiritually. “We need God’s answers to our prayers to both raise up new leadership for the mission and to see the salvation of many new people.
- Set the vision: The CMT works with regional and denominational resources and personnel to set the vision for church multiplication in its classis and communicate that vision to the classis.
- Recruit parent congregations: The CMT expands the number of parent congregations in the classis through:
- Sponsor events that stimulate parenting.
- Hold up classis parent churches as leaders and examples.
- Urge specific congregations to try parenting.
- Encourage the development of “parenting networks.”
- Evaluate planters and places:
- Work with a parent church to identify a good match between the parent church and a church planter candidate.
- Come alongside a parent congregation to discern a target area or specific planting opportunity.
- Partnering with regional or denominational sources for planter evaluation.
- Work with all partners to provide for the annual evaluation of each plant, with appropriate follow-up.
- Equip planters and parents with tools, skills, and resources:
- Partner with regional and denominational sources to provide best-practice wisdom for parents and church planters.
- Work alongside planters to raise funds from within the classis.
- Seek out a parent congregation for an emerging planter.
- Empower planters and parents through coaching, networks, and advocacy:
- Advocate for the planter and parent before the wider classis to obtain fund development and prayer support.
- Urge planters and emerging parents to form networks for support, learning, and accountability.
- Support planters and parents that venture “outside the box” with experimental plants.
- Encourage the emergence of new planters from the classis.
- Provide representation: The CMT supplies a representative to serve on the governance team of each new start in the classis [link to governance team handbook]. Click here to try out our budgeting tool [link].
- Tackle the paperwork: The CMT assists with documentation to support the planting movement, including New Congregation Plans, case statements [link], grant requests [link], and annual evaluations.
- When a classis moves from one new church start per year to two or more per year, it may wish to develop sub-teams within its CMT. While these teams must work together, they could split responsibilities as follows:
- Administrative team: Responsible for record-keeping and documentation, as well as communication with the wider classis.
- Research and development team: Responsible for the direct development of planters and parent churches, demographic research, and mapping out a vision.
- Anticipate healthy transitions in five to eight years, with original planters preparing the way for second leaders to come in and prosper.
- The RCA is rich in resources at the denominational, regional, and classis levels. Moving out in planting involves using those resources to accelerate and advance the multiplication of churches.
Great Lakes Regional CMT