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NAMB proposes teams of consultants to help churches start churches

ATLANTA (BP)–-While church planting is widely recognized as one of the most effective means of evangelism, less than five percent of Southern Baptist churches are actually involved in reproducing themselves through church planting. The North American Mission Board hopes to bridge that gap by encouraging the deployment of Church Planting Assist Teams, groups of consultants who work closely with churches from the time they first begin investigating the possibility of starting a new congregation.

Dennis Mitchell, director of multiplication for NAMB’s church planting group, introduced the concept at a regional conference for pastors, missionaries and other partners of the North American Mission Board.

“Perhaps more churches might commit to plant a church if there were experienced, church planting specialists available to come alongside and consult with them to successfully start a new church,” he said.

The idea grew out of a suspicion that perhaps one of the primary the reasons many churches don’t start churches is because they simply may not know how, Mitchell said, noting that church planting only recently has become a key emphasis at seminaries.

“We’re proposing that every state convention consider deploying an assist team, with the hope that ultimately every association will have a team of specialists that they can call and deploy in different kinds of contexts,” Mitchell said.

The Church Planting Assist Team (CPAT) concept proposes a blueprint for how a church can prepare for planting a new church, from an education process for the pastor and staff, to securing leaders who will oversee the church plant, and ultimately a one-to-three-day orientation session with the church leadership and the team of five consultants. Team members would include a leadership specialist, a church health specialist, community specialist (to help understand the community and its needs), a resource specialist (to help secure funding) and a prayer/mobilization specialist (to help mobilize the entire church to pray for and support the new church plant).

Those consultants then would continue to be available for the church as it implements the strategy it has chosen to reach whatever group of individuals it has decided will be the focus of the new congregation, Mitchell said.

“We are talking about a group of volunteers who will see that this is a way that they can be on mission with God,” he said.

Churches could go through the process before they make a commitment, for example, giving them the knowledge they need to decide whether to proceed with starting a new church. The key, Mitchell said, is that the CPAT concept be flexible — allowing associations and state conventions to discover and respond to the needs and realities in both the existing church and in the community they are trying to reach.

“Rather than trying to sell programs to our churches and partners, we should be asking, ‘What is God leading you to do?’” he said. “‘What are your obstacles: What’s preventing you from reaching people? How can we assist you do what God is calling you to do?’”

Mitchell said an implementation guide outlining the Church Planter Assist Team process is currently under development, but anyone interested in providing input or helping pilot the concept may contact him at [email protected]
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: DENNIS MITCHELL.

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  • James Dotson