by Scott Moreau and Mike O’Rear
Prior to the Internet, inexperienced church planters often faced the prospect of a lonely job in a new location struggling to know how to launch a church. Today a wealth of tools, resources, helps, and discussion groups is available to anyone in the world with an Internet connection.
Prior to the Internet, inexperienced church planters often faced the prospect of a lonely job in a new location struggling to know how to launch a church. Typically they did so without specific resources at their fingertips. In the last decade, all that has changed. Today a wealth of tools, resources, helps, and discussion groups is available to anyone in the world with an Internet connection.
In this issue we introduce you to the MisLinks Church Planting page. We have developed two pages with identical links but different layout. The first is a simple directory page with all the links organized into a quick reference table (see Figure). The second is a descriptive list of links organized alphabetically under the same categories used on the directory page, but with brief descriptions of each site added (www.gmi.org/mislinks/Chures/chplant.htm). As usual, we have more links than space to describe them, and, by the time you read this, there will be even more. We invite you to browse MisLinks (www.gmi.org/mislinks/) and click on Church Planting in the Church/Ministry Resources section.1
GATEWAYS: LAUNCHING PADS TO CHURCH-PLANTING HELPS
Gateway sites, like our Web page, link you to other sites. The best gateway we have found is (New Churches.com), a resource site for church planters and lay leaders sponsored by Southern Baptist Theological Seminary that provides almost 50 links to church planting sites. Honorable mention goes to Vision Ministries Canada, which provides links to 15 papers and reports as well as several organizations with a Canadian emphasis.
Church Planter’s Paradise; click on the Links button) is hosted by a group of 12 evangelical organizations that have partnered together. Intended as a launching pad, the site does not offer great depth, and at least for now there are only a few links to follow.
DEMOGRAPHICS AND STATISTICS
An understanding of the basic demographics of an area is important in the start of any new church. Several organizations offer demographic information, though they limit their data to the United States and Canada. To hunt for demographic or ethnic information in other parts of the world, you might want to start with Mis-Links’ “By the Continent” page and narrow your search to the country or region. You may also want to visit MisLinks’ People Groups page .
The U.S. Census Bureau offers almost unlimited demographic information about the United States. There are literally hundreds of down-loadable (via Adobe Acrobat2) reports available free on this site (see end note 2 for details).
Parallel to this is Statistics Canada , the national statistical agency for Canada.
George Barna is one of the best-known names in church and culture research, and Barna Research Online provides an array of materials and services.
Of particular interest for the church planter is the Research Archives (www.barna.org/cgi-bin/Main Archives.asp), with 40 articles synthesizing Barna’s research on topics including African Americans, church demographics, regional differences, worship, and unchurched people. Percept (http://www.percept net.com/) provides fee-based service and demographic data that integrate relevant information about religious attitudes, preferences, and behavior targeted to help your church. It offers a large PowerPoint slideshow about the VISTA 2000 services with demographic data from Indianapolis (www.perceptnet.com/pn4/v2000 demo.htm).
Several denominational sites particularly focus on church planting; the sites we have linked to offer resources beyond their denominational overviews. Calvary Chapel Church Planting Mission (www.cccpm.org/) is dedicated to assisting Calvary Chapel affiliates in planting and nurturing Calvary fellowships in the former Soviet Union. The Christian Reformed Church of North America (CRHM) New Church Development site (NCD; www.crcncd.net/about/Default.htm) encourages and assists in planting and developing roughly 20 new churches each year in Canada and the United States. The Southern Baptist Church Planting Group (NAMB; http://namb.net/cp/Default.htm) provides multiple resources. It includes a focus on ethnic urban church planting (http://namb.net/cp/Multiplication/thinking_ethnic.html) with more than 20 short articles on planting churches among minority and disabled population groups in addition to Adobe Acrobat versions (see end note 2) of numerous brochures. Additionally, it posts the Church Planting and Evangelism TODAY magazine (http://namb.net/cp/About_CPG/brochures.html). Grace Brethren North American Missions (GBNAM) offers several North American-oriented pages (www.gbnam.org/Church _planting.htm) that introduce you to its philosophy and strategy of church planting and church planters. North American Baptist Conference has a vision of reaching the lost of North America through church planting and provides a church planting aptitude survey and lists of its church planters in the U.S. and Canada (www. nabconference.org/discples athome/churchplanting.htm).
Articles, magazines, reports
The largest category of church-planting links offers papers, magazines, newsletters, and reports. We cannot mention all the links, so we invite you to visit the site. See Lyle Schaller’s two-part article “44 Lessons on Church Planting” provided by Pastor Net of Australia (www.pastornet.net.au/— not the same as PastorNet.com.) Church Planting and the Great Commission (http://www. abcog.org/plant.htm) is a lengthy two-part article provided by the Active Bible Church of God in Chicago (http://www.abcog.org/). An excerpt from Church Planting Approach to Mission by S. Devasagayam Ponraj, Bethel Bible Institute, Tamil Nadu, India (1987), provides a cross-cultural theological focus to church planting. Church Smart Resources newsletter (www. churchsmart.com/newsletter. html) likewise has over 20 articles on church planting, including a number from the perspective of Christian Schwarz’s Natural Church Development. Easum Bandy and Associates (www. easum.com/) provides over a dozen articles, including “The 10 Most Common Mistakes Made by Church Plants” (http://www.easum. com/ChurchPlanting/10_most_ common_mistakes.htm). Wolfgang Simson’s 200-page book Houses That Change the World on the house church movement is available from www. outreach.ca/cpc/housechurch_ planting.htm. You can choose either an MS Word 7 or Adobe Acrobat format. On Mission magazine (www. onmission.com/webzine; NAMB of the Southern Baptist Convention) has an issue devoted to church planting that can be accessed from its site (www.onmission.com/webzine/july_ aug99/church_ planting.htm). An article from the online journal Premise entitled “The Ten Commandments Of Nineteenth Century Church Planting” by David W. Hall (http://capo.org/premise/95/april/01chplan.html) extracts 10 principles for church planting from the history of Presbyterian Church work in the United States from the late 1700s to the mid-1800s. Finally, we note The Visionary (www. gycm.org/visionary/), an online church-planting journal from Lincoln Christian Seminary. It has over 30 articles, including case studies, helps, features, statistics, and book reviews. Several offer valuable and practical advice, including “Planting Churches —Urban Style!” “Top Ten Things Not To Do When Planting A Church,” “Rural Church Planting” and “7 Common Mistakes Church Planters Make Their 1st Year.”
Several parachurch organizations have church-planting sites. We focused on those that help the church planter directly. First is Canadian House Church Resource Network (www. outreach.ca/cpc/Housechurches.htm). It provides resources for sale, a bibliography, articles, and opportunities to network. Church Planting Forum (www.crcncd. net/forum_articles_ frm.htm) is a posting of e-mail discussion on church planting starting in September, 1998. Church Resource Ministries (www.crmnet.org/) which aims “to develop leaders to strengthen and start churches worldwide,” offers detailed explanations of international church planting projects, opportunities to network, and information on training. Church Planters International (www.plantingministries.org) has articles, three chapters from Church Planting Blueprint, information on the Internet Church Planting School, and even a few games to give the hard-working church planter a break! The Fellowship of Church Planters site (www. fcpt.org/) offers 15 booklets, reading lists, books and other resources for sale, and the chance to offer mentoring services or to be mentored. House Church Central (www. hccentral.com) provides dozens of online articles and books, resources to purchase, a searchable database of 450 house churches around the world, and a bulletin board.
Educational and training sites
Some are educational institutions; others offer fee-based help. Church Multiplication Training Center (www.cmtcmultiply.org) offers boot-camp training for planting/multiplying churches; and newsletters (in English and Spanish). ChurchPlanters e-mail Conference (Abilene Christian University; http://genesis.acu.edu/cplant/home.html) is a site devoted to church planters encouraging each other through the sharing of overall vision, questions, specific problems, experiences, testimonies, and practical suggestions. Of special interest are the archive and resource pages, each providing links to articles, books, and organizations. Church Smart offers a fee-based networking service called CoachNet (www.coachnet.org/). It includes access to a reference library, discussion forums, online courses, coaching relationships, and networks. Dynamic Church Planting International (www.dcpi.org/) is a “men-toring, training, and consulting mission focused on providing products and services to help church planters at all levels.” Easum Bandy & Associates (http://easum.com/) provides fee-based training and consulting. Dove Christian Fellowship International (www.dcfi.org/) has organized a House to House Church Planting and Leadership Video Correspondence School built on a six-month training curriculum centered on cell-based church building principles.
Wheaton College makes the full set of course materials for its course “Evangelism and Church Planting” available online (www. wheaton.edu/missions/Courses/546), including an extensive bibliography, Adobe course notes, graphics presentations, Web links, and the syllabus. NewChurches DotCom (www.newchurches. com/), a site sponsored by Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for church planters and lay leaders, offers books, an extensive set of case study materials on Millcreek Church and 11 other case studies of successful church plants, links to church-planting sites, and course materials (syllabi, study questions, strategy papers, and so on) for several church-planting classes. Plantachurch.com (http://planta church.com) offers access to assessment, training, and coaching opportunities as well as stories, quotes, statistical data (“pop facts”), and other resources to stimulate a church-planting movement.
Together with the Evangelism page described in the April issue of EMQ, MisLinks leaves us without excuse in being able to connect to helpful and timely information relevant to the fulfillment of the Great Commission. As usual, if you know of any important links we missed, let us know.
1. Special thanks to the students in INTR 546: Evangelism and Church Planting, Spring, 2000 for help in finding many of these sites.
2. Available free from Adobe at (http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep.html).
Scott Moreau is associate professor of Missions and Intercultural Studies at Wheaton College Graduate School (Wheaton, Ill.). His e-mail address is A.S.Moreau@ wheaton.edu, and the Wheaton Missions Department Web address is: www.wheaton.edu/missions/
Mike O’Rear is the president of Global Mapping International (Colorado Springs, Colo.), which is dedicated to providing access to information for church and mission leaders, especially in the Two-Thirds World. He also serves as Lausanne senior associate for information technology. His e-mail address is email@example.com and the GMI Web address is: www.gmi.org/Mislinks
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