Here are some notes from church planters seminar with +Ric Thorpe and Steve Nicholson (Vineyard), including some very helpful discussion on multi-site churches, training leaders (all the time), giving ministry away to self-funding ministers, new congregations having the ability to pay for themselves, [the more expensive your model of church planting the less you will do]

Who is Steve Nicholson?

Planted first church at university by accident; second aged 23 which he still leads; he has now planted 40 churches around the city/county/some international.

Vineyard over 23 years planted 750 churches in USA and beyond and he has been on the team making that happen.

The more expensive your plants are the fewer you are going to do!

Team is important in the city

Teams he has sent out have ranged from 30-40 people down to 2 people.

In post-modern urban context 30-40 gives the community of Christians which is the first and most powerful presentation of the Gospel. The community pulls you in in an area where there is turnover, dislocation etc… instant community is really helpful.

The impact on the sending church

Asked about  anecdotes here in the UK of sending churches overextending themselves:

“I have never really worried about the number of people who left being a problem to the central church – we never could get that many people to go – had to beg them to go! “

The leaders are the hard part to replace, not the attenders… the empty seats get filled – but not by leaders/givers… that’s where you take the hit… so you 1) need a leadership pipeline on the go; 2) think ahead about finances: step changing your income stream for the plant and the sending church

Leadership pipeline in church

You can’t hold onto people you can’t take care of – so need a continuing flowing pipeline of leaders to look out for people around them… we start by making it easy to serve and become a leader… some of the ways you can serve you don’t need to have faith yet… get them involved fast… if you get people doing something it makes it easy for them to come back! We basically think if they hang around with us long enough God is going to impact them because we are contagious!

If you serve, show up on time and have any passion you can end up in leadership of something…

The training mostly on the job… let people start and when you they are scared then they’re ready to be trained!

Have time limits to the jobs – 3-6months limit for all positions…

FINANCIAL: should you put a priest on a second site/plant!?

Ric Thorpe explaining that current CoE model – building, + priest (stipend, pension contribution, housing) can be £xxxxxxx building and £50-70,000pa for a priest…

Steve/Vineyard operate a much more lightweight model that allows for more experiment and failure, but probably more commitment/risk/vision from the planter too…

  • ‘We expect the money to be in the people that you reach…’
  • the people being ministered to fund the church and the leadership
  • the church plants fund the church planting.
  • So I never have to hesitate about planting the church due to concern about funding
  • Poor areas often partnered with larger/richer churches.

How to keep doing it:

  • Constant leadership factory running in the church
  • Money: when someone is deciding to plant a site/ church it usually takes 12 months… From that point they often know who is on the team… 50% of the money of those going is set aside for the church plant for the next year… This leads to a step change the income. ‘I can do that every year and not blink an eyelid’

Who should plant?

Entrepreneurial person who feels called to lead. Simply train, send them with a team, start a new church. – They are not paid a salary (bi-vocational) as they pull the thing together… if you only have 20+ people all at work then you need something to do in daytime!

Spotting a planter

Planters with potential ask you big picture questions – not how does this effect me! They see something that does not yet exist. Those people get a lot of attention as they have potential to lead/plant.

top tip: As overall leader have more coffee with more people! Take them to meetings like this training event… call them out of work early… See: Can they gather people… unless you can do that you can’t plant a church… invest your time in people who can get people and form community, then you can plant!

If they never bring anyone with them to church they possibly not a church planter… they have to gather people! Look in youth group – who is galvanising people.The youth may be some of your next planters…  Gatherers vs non-gathering leaders

Know how to take initiative, foresee the future, proactive, foretelling, this is what is going to communicate…

Let them start a ministry in church… if they can do that maybe they can do a church…

‘Church planting / business entrepreneurship is a similar gifting’ SN

[but balance with : character > competence in leadership].

What kind of planting should we be doing in UK, CoE…

  • Do what you are doing already
  • Increase second career people recruitment – call those in business into bivocational ministry .
  • There is untapped potential to get people doing the stuff.
  • Multisite model church
    • Use ‘lower bar’ leaders at the additional site/services (bi-vocational/not ordained)
    • With this you can look for leaders who can lead but not gather – they can maintain, pastor and teach into a group a gatherer has established
    • Lots of people can become a site leader of a larger church with resourcing and help – senior pastor is like a mini Bishop model, providing the overall teaching content, spiritual oversight and leadership…


Multifaith/multicultural contexts…

Enormously attractive to have a multiracial congregation – people like that! Exciting and challenging.

Diocese of London Context:

The Need for Resource Churches

Bishop Richard: London needs 30 resource churches… (by 2020) based on Church Commissioners assessment that you need  1/150,000 people.

92% of Londoners not attending church. 52% on national census now say ‘none of the above’ when asked about religious affiliation. CoE part of much wider need for existing churches to flourish, grow and new congregations to be planted to reach different people in different areas and in different ways.

What is a resource church?

These are churches that can plant and influence a region and raise up leaders for it…  A church with vision to give away. As people from surrounding areas likely to be drawn to some ministry they become more influential.

Key features: Sends out new leaders, plants new congregations, has some ministry/teaching/oversight influence over a wider region

Attitude: We will do this for the Kingdom, gospel etc… give away…’blessed to be a blessing’. 

If there are to be 30 of these by 2020 it can’t be left to the big five/six famous churches:  Many more modest churches will need to step up to give away resources to see God changing their area, the city and ultimately the world. 

BIG THOUGHT: You don’t build a resource church with short term ministry