We need to recalibrate.
There’s a change that needs to happen when we talk about what it means to be the church in today’s world, in our local places. A growing number of people are starting new churches because they hope to be the people of God in a fresh way.
People have been trained how to draw a crowd, create an event or preach a good sermon. However, few have been equipped for incarnational approaches to mission. Many are starving for wisdom, guidance and grounded tools on how to cultivate new types of church bodies.People are trained how to draw a crowd, few equipped for incarnational mission. Click To Tweet
At V3, we are passionate about helping men and women plant churches, the kind of churches that reflect the viral movement of the early church–tight-knit community, life-forming discipleship, locally-rooted presence and boundary-crossing mission. Each year our learning cohorts include church planters from diverse ethnic backgrounds and geographical areas. Doing this together is a much richer experience than struggling alone.
Over the last four years, God has allowed us to train 120 church planters across North America, from Seattle to Miami, Honolulu to Toronto, from LA to New York, from Dallas to Atlanta in an 8-month learning cohort. As a training network, we value ethnic diversity and believe that God calls both men and women to plant.
What Incarnational Church Planters Look Like
Let me introduce you to a few of our church planters.
Jane Lam grew up in Hong Kong and moved to San Francisco. She sensed a call to plant a church. She wanted to go to the toughest place in the city, which is the Tenderloin district. When everyone else was planting churches in the sexy areas of San Francisco, Jane felt sent to this neighborhood, where she discovered a group of 5,000 Chinese speaking senior citizens.
She has been sharing the good news with them and seeing 91 year olds come to Christ and get baptized. When she leads this congregation for a prayer walk around the block, they pull out their walkers and join her. That is what I call movement.
Then there is Bryan Staab, a half German, half Korean pastor who is planting in the Northern Suburbs of Seattle. His multi-ethnic young congregation is approaching church planting with an emphasis on intentional discipleship, and many young people are seeing their lives transformed.
Jarod and Mary Beth Dragoun, who are planting in North Hollywood are not just living for their neighborhood and with their neighborhood, but they have become accepted by their neighborhood, because they are taking an incarnational approach to mission. They are living into various webs of relationships, as witnesses to God’s goodness and grace.
Kevin and Christine Sweeny are planting in Honolulu. You can learn more about their story by watching this video.
Research shows that church planters who engage in an in-depth training experience, alongside experienced coaches, are more likely to thrive in their efforts at church planting. This is why we provide strategic coaching for you as you journey through the formative phases of planting churches. Our training is holistic, communal, peer-based, practice and process oriented, and equips you with transferable tools for discipling your team.
Competencies for Mission
At V3 we help you discover and live into the eight competencies needed for planting movemental churches that we write about in The Church as Movement.
- Movement Intelligence – discover how to live into the vision of church as movement.
- Polycentric Leadership – learn the messy yet beautiful approach to shared leadership.
- Being Disciples – consider how to cultivate a life worth imitating.
- Making Disciples – explore how to build communities on mission through instruction and imitation.
- Missional Theology – discover how the social and sending nature of God informs our way of being the church.
- Ecclesial Architecture – consider how to craft a communal rule and rhythm of life that shapes your communities desire for God and mission.
- Community Formation – learn the sticky practices that help sustain life-giving community.
- Incarnational Practices – gain wisdom in how to live in and among the people to whom God has sent you.
As you learn how to be the church in a fresh and movemental way, we create space for you and your team to contextualize and innovate the training into your setting. God does not mass-produce his church. Every church is a unique expression of God’s kingdom, and people from various faith traditions, who practice the way of Jesus, participate in V3.Every church is a unique expression of God’s kingdom. Click To Tweet
Experienced coaches lead each of the learning cohorts. The learning cohort meets weekly via live online video sessions for one hour. Our coaches use a formational learning approach where we move from mere gathering knowledge, to engaging practices, actively shaping our minds, souls and bodies.
While every church plant will be unique, there are situational realities common to all pioneering ventures. Interspersed throughout the Learning Cohort experience will be opportunities for you to receive strategic consulting from coaches. Twice a semester you will have the opportunity to connect one-on-one with your coach who can speak to your particular contextual challenges.
The training starts off with a face-to-face conference in Philadelphia called the Praxis Gathering. The learning cohort meets up one day before the gathering and then remains for the public gathering, which helps us to re-imagine what it means to be the church in our increasingly post-Christendom context. The Praxis Gathering focuses on grounded missional practices. This year’s theme is To Love Your Neighborhood, with special guest Michael Frost. One special feature of this gathering is that our communicators are thoughtful practitioners who live out the material that they share with us.
We end the year with an optional gathering in Malibu, California, where we take the time and space to get physically refreshed, emotionally recharged and spiritually renewed. We leave plenty of time to go surfing, hiking and connect with one another. While the Praxis Gathering is heavy on content, the Malibu time is more reflective in nature.
Want to Learn More?
If you are a church planter or looking to plant soon we realize that you need support, coaching training and funding. We want to help you with this and more. If you want to learn more about planting with V3, the first step is applying for the learning cohort. So take a moment, learn more about the learning cohort and apply today
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The Missio Alliance Writing Collectives exist as a ministry of writing to resource theological practitioners for mission. From our Leading Voices to our regular Writing Team and those invited to publish with us as Community Voices, we are creating a space for thoughtful engagement of critical issues and questions facing the North American Church in God’s mission. This sort of thoughtful engagement is something that we seek to engender not only in our publishing, but in conversations that unfold as a result in the comment section of our articles.
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