Gather a Temporary, Apostolic Task Group
Yes, fellow workers, we’re free to aim for a highly effective task force, liberated from shackles of inertia and fear of newness.
Yes, Lord, we step out together to follow your model. Help us provide the nuclei of new task groups that multiply exponentially, as your Twelve did.
God gives apostles (sent ones in Greek) to churches, and the churches are to send them to neglected populations (Eph. 4:11-12; Rom. 15:20). Such workers have itchy feet. They are eager to spark a movement, but they go unrecognized when churches overlook this gift.
Help flocks birth daughter churches as well as church planting task groups from among new believers. Paul and his apprentices started only the first two or three churches in a region; they then let those new churches start the other churches.
There were no permanent teams in the New Testament. Avoid a team becoming an end in itself. Keep it as a temporary scaffolding; let workers remove it as soon as a new church is stable. In an expanding movement within a particular culture, the most effective church-planting teams are made up mainly of new believers from that culture, sent by a nearby, new church.
Avoid letting workers from outside outnumber insiders, in a task group. Have any expatriates mentor several task groups of new, local believers.
“Lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” Hebrews 12:1. Any activity that blunts the cutting edge of an expanding movement should be viewed as sin. Use the New Testament as a filter to set aside practices that Jesus or His apostles did not explicitly command. Such ‘sins’ include requiring sacred buildings before a church is considered legitimate, academic degrees being required for shepherds, and salaries expected to be paid by outsiders.
Accepting accountability to a director with a restrictive strategy remians a common cause of pain for all involved. Look for an organization or ministry that only requires things that the New Testament clearly does.
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Strive to share Paul’s drive. Verify potential workers’ apostolic motivation. Do they agree with all the dynamics that characterize church planting movements?
Recruit Paul’s type of team workers. Jesus and His apostles did not work alone. For every loner’s success story, at least a hundred loners fail but are never publicized. No one person has all the spiritual gifts required to initiate all the vital ministries in a new congregation. Follow these recruiting guidelines:
Observe a ripe field as Jesus said. Draw simple maps of an area. Maps will help workers visualize their area of responsibility, agree on concrete plans, and chart progress. Workers also find that drawing maps is highly motivating:
Like a pilot before take-off, Go over a ‘To Do’ checklist before taking off. Make sure to complete all vital tasks when starting a church or cell:
Take the lead. Develop skills that team leaders need, especially skill to serve in another culture. Know when to be firm and when to flex, and avoid common abuses of leaders:
Focus your ‘telescope’. Strategic planning takes into account crucial factors when making long-range plans. This involves reasoning from your final objective back to your starting point:
Dispel fog when considering a new route. Provide objective career guidance for potential field workers:
Empower temporary workers:
Spy the ‘Promised Land’ as Caleb and Joshua did. Research a field to prepare workers to avoid serious mistakes:
Prevent problems that commonly make trouble for teams. Several common practices in forming teams, though “evangelically correct” lack New Testament support and fail to sustain a movement:
Avoid deadly permanence. The apostles did not settle in any particular area; they started a few churches and moved on, focusing always on making new disciples where there were none. Role-play:
Harvest with coworkers. Work as a team when visiting folk’s homes. Going alone leads to mistakes, sins, fatigue and discouragement. Jesus and His apostles always worked in pairs or groups.
Common Traps To Avoid
Plant churches, having an institutional parachurch mentality.
Cats reproduce cats; churches reproduce churches; institutions reproduce institutions. When two or more work together in the Name of Christ, they should consider themselves a church, which, as Jesus said, not even the gates of hell can hold back. When they start a church, church begets church; the Body of Christ reproduces itself.
Recruit team workers just because they are close friends.
Recruit workers that hold to your strategies. Recruitment based simply on friendship dilutes a team’s commitment. Do not avoid recruits just because they argue minor points. In the military, occasional griping is healthy; whereas sullen silence is ominous. Fearing to gripe reflects abusive leadership.
Jesus and His apostles always worked in pairs or teams. Serving God alone often leads to serious, personal failure.
Try to get as many as you can to serve in a task force.
It is better to form several small teams.
Spend too much money.
Large expenditures for every new church will halt a movement. Let church-planting projects remain non-budgeted, if possible; depend mainly on volunteer church planters, as in the New Testament.
Strive for perfect relationships among team members.
Jesus’ disciples argued together; so did Paul and Barnabas. Abusive leaders suppress disagreement, even when constructive criticism could avoid obstacles. Also, when team members focus mainly on each other, they fail to bond with the local folk whom God has sent them to serve.
Keep only expatriates in a mission task force.
Form teams with local believers, as soon as possible. Avoid outsiders outnumbering or overshadowing local believers in a team. Let outsiders mentor local workers from the background.
Follow church planting principles mechanically.
Expect the Holy Spirit do His work, as you focus on serving the people and on doing what Jesus said to do. As Paul said, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.”