Sunday, November 4, 2007

Fall Vision Update

For the last three months, this space has been pretty much constantly devoted to our 40 Days of Community campiagn, "Let's Get 1t Together!" But the purpose of this blog is much broader than this one campaign. It is intended to serve as a vehicle for clear and honest communication regarding many things related to our corporate life and faith journey here at PCC.

And that's what we need to return to, now that this 40-day campaign is behind us (although I hope the spirit of the campaign never leaves us!).

During the campaign, I shared a "Vision Update" message, during which I outlined our strategy for moving forward and accomplishing our vision "to become actively involved in planting new churches to reach the 100,000 people in Jackson County with no church family." This strategy consists of assembling a LEAD Team of churches in Jackson that would work together for the purpose of launching a daughter church.

While each congregation that is part of the LEAD Team will eventually contribute to the success of the daughter church, only the senior pastor of each congregation participates in the initial planning phase. These senior pastors get together for a 24-hour meeting 5-6 times per year for a two-year period. LEAD is an acronym that summarizes the main activity of the team at these meetings:

  • LEARN: Something about church planting will be learned at each meeting. This will most likely take place through reading and discussing chapters from a particular book.
  • ENCOURAGE: The pastors will encourage one another and pray for one another in their own particular challenges, struggles, trials, and difficulties. We will pray for the success of, and God's involvement in, each of our ministries. And we will spend time together building relationships and trust.
  • ACHIEVE: At each meeting, various assignments will be given out, and the LEAD Team members will report back whatever progress has been made. Plans will be made regarding what should be accomplished before the next meeting. By the end of the two-year process, with everything being accomplished, we should be able to celebrate the birth of a new church.
  • DREAM: Time will also be given to dreaming about where God wants to take this process, what he wishes to accomplish through it for his kingdom and his glory.

Over the two years, the churches involved in the LEAD Team will commit to contributing three things to the church plant--people, prayers, and pockets.

Once a church planter has been selected, he will be given permission to speak in each congregation represented by the LEAD Team. At that point, he will share his vision for this new church and invite members from each of the parenting churches to join him as part of the launch team--the core of the new congregation. The pastors of each of the churches agree up-front that they will bless and release anyone whom God calls from their church to be a part of the new church.

Churches also commit to praying for the church-planting process from beginning to end--the establishment of the LEAD Team, the work of the LEAD Team over the two years, and the success and health of the new congregation once it is birthed.

Finally, churches commit to financially supporting the fledgling congregation. The minimum investment is $100/month for 2 years, but some churches will need to contribute more than that. Typically with LEAD Teams, new churches can be financed 1/3 from a denominational source, 1/3 from money raised by the planting pastor, and 1/3 from the sponsoring churches (i.e., the LEAD Team). As I mentioned, ours will be the first LEAD Team that I am aware of that is a multi-denominational endeavor, so denominational money may be more difficult to come by. Most denominations want to send money only if it goes to "one of their own." That's one of the hurdles that will need to be jumped, and one of the items of prayer we'll need to bring before God's throne of grace at the proper time.

So far, we have a list of about 20 churches that we want to contact and invite to be a part of this endeavor. We are praying for 4-5 churches that will say yes and join with us to ignite a spiritual movement in Jackson County, reaching out to the 100,000 unchurched and reconciling them to God through Christ Jesus.

I'm going to begin contacting these churches after the holidays at the beginning of the new year, and I'm so excited about this. We're hoping to have our first LEAD Team orientation meeting in March or April 2008, after which point pastors would decide for good if they and their churches are in or out.

There are still many questions to answer:

  • Who will be part of this LEAD Team with us?
  • What denomination will the daughter church be?
  • Who will be the planting pastor?
  • Where will the church plant meet?
  • What community (or "target") will the church plant seek to reach?

These will be answered in time by the LEAD Team itself as we work and pray together. I'll be certain to keep you well-informed as plans develop.

I ask you to keep this whole process in prayer. Pray right now especially for our future partners--that God would lead us to them, that he would open up the right doors for us, that he would prepare the way for us to connect with each other, and that we would be engaged with kindred hearts that beat for the lost of Jackson County. May God bless our church and our efforts as we step out in faith, trusting in his leading, his provision, his guidance, and his will for his kingdom. Amen!

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