There are several different methods of church planting. One method worth discussing is church planting teams. Craig Ott and Gene Wilson have a helpful chapter on this topic in their book Global Church Planting. Here are a few highlights from that chapter.
“A team is a group of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose and work together in agreed-upon ways to achieve that purpose, holding each other fully and jointly accountable for the team’s results. …A church planting team is a group of Christians who work together purposefully, under Christ, to start one or more new churches.”
“Multicultural teams counteract the perception of cultural superiority, favor mutual learning, model unity and diversity in the body of Christ, and can open doors to diverse communities in urban settings. A broader pool of resources can be brought to the task. They send the message that Christianity is not a Western religion. Furthermore, members from different backgrounds bring broader perspectives to decision-making and can relate in different ways to the local people. Multicultural teams can also decrease suspicion.”
In this chapter, Ott and Wilson also discuss some of the problems church planting teams face as well as ways to avoid problems in a team. Here are a few ways they suggest to keep a church planting team strong and unified (I’ve edited it a bit).
1) Have regular meetings. During these meetings (up to 4 times per month), the team members can pray for one another, discuss church related items, and make plans and decisions together. This would be something like a weekly prayer and fellowship meeting.
2) Have enjoyable social gatherings from time to time. For example, take turns hosting meals and a game night, birthday parties, or holiday parties. A gathering like this would tighten the relationships among the families on the team.
3) Have team workshops at least once per year. This would be the time to discuss in-depth church planting items, including finances, visitors, counseling situations, outreach, and so forth. It would also be the time for prayer and further training in church planting.
4) Have visits to members of the team. In other words, the team leader (the pastor, elder, or missionary) should personally meet with the various team members from time to time. They would pray, talk about life, health, frustrations, joys, and so forth. In other words, in doing this, the pastor would be shepherding the team.
There is, of course, more to this chapter. I’m simply highlighting a few things here because I think that as we plant solid Christian churches – even in the United States – church planting teams is one tool in the toolkit we can utilize with good results. For one thing, it would fight against the rugged individualism in some church planting circles. A church planting team would also be a big blessing to the pastor/planter, since he would have others to help him through the burdens and blessings of church planting. I could go on! I recommend this book (Global Church Planting), and this chapter specifically, if you want to think more about church planting teams.