Church Planter’s Checklist
To remind one of things to do

This checklist is too ‘lean’ to use to train church planters. Rather, use it to recall what to do while gathering a flock or cell group. Airplane pilots check vital items off a similar list before takeoff, to avoid forgetting a vital detail.

PREPARE TO INVADE SATAN’S TERRITORY

1. Define the task: start churches that reproduce in their own culture without outsiders’ help.
Help with dynamics of church reproductionChurch Multiplication Guide, Patterson and Scoggins, William Carey Library, Pasadena. E-mail Publishing@wclbooks.com

2. Define and pray for the field: gather people from only one culture in a flock.
Pray to Lord of the Harvest for workers and for the Holy Spirit’s power.

ReminderNew churches that mix two cultures normally cancel one out; one dies. Pray for workers: Luke 10:2. Pray for power to witness: Acts 1:8.

3. Form a temporary task force: work with others, preferably of the same or a very close culture.
ReminderJesus and the apostles never worked alone. Nor did they form permanent teams; they formed temporary task forces for the job at hand. People constantly joined and left them. Successful church planting task forces normally have people of the same culture. An expatriate with more experience disciples the others behind the scenes, as Aquila and Priscilla did for Apollos (Acts 18).

PRESENT JESUS

4. Present Christ in a way that is easy to imitate and pass on: relate the Gospel and other key Bible events in story form.
ReminderA wise church planter in another culture develops a repertoire of Bible stories, at least one for each major doctrine and Christian activity.

5. Work with entire families: start with heads of households.
ReminderWork with entire families: Acts 10:24; 16:13-15; 16:29-34; 18:8. Look for a ‘man of peace’--a hospitable person to help you fit into a new community and make good contacts: Luke 10:5-7.

6. Confirm repentance with water Baptism: count converts only when added to a church by baptism (Acts 2:41).
CautionMerely counting hands or ‘decisions’ creates fog: it makes it hard to evaluate sound evangelistic methods and leads to dishonest use of statistics for fundraising. The apostles counted converts after baptism.

  1. ‘Shake the dust’ if people reject Christ: seek a more responsive community or segment of population (Luke 10:14.)
    ReminderMost workers who do this do not have to change their place of residence; they merely shift their focus to a poorer, more receptive segment of society.

START THE KIND OF CHURCH THAT IS APPROPRIATE TO LOCAL CIRCUMSTANCES

  1. Select a church model that can reproduce easily in your field:
     
    House
    Churches (building too costly for small group, secrecy required or people simply prefer small church cluster)
     Cells (same as house church except cells meet regularly for united celebration)
     
    Conventional (aim to rent or build facilities when growth warrants it, where authorities allow it)
    CautionDo not transfer external structures, methods, values and forms of your home church to other cultures. Use the New Testament as a filter to leave behind anything too heavy, costly or too Western to reproduce there. Avoid Western emphasis on entertainment, individualism, institutionalism, worship of bigness, materialism.

BIRTH CHURCH BY TEACHING NEW DISCIPLES TO OBEY JESUS’ COMMANDS IN LOVE (Matt. 28:18-20)

9. Repent, believe and receive the Holy Spirit: let God begin the eternal process of transformation.
CautionAvoid mere ‘decision making rituals.’ They are not biblical and seldom results in strong churches. Call converts to repentance as Jesus and the apostles did: Mark 1:15; Luke 24:46-48; Acts 2:38

10. Be baptized and live the new, holy life in Christ: baptize bad folks who repent--don’t delay it; let God’s grace flow!
CautionTo delay baptism because of our doubts or legalism discourages converts; these new-born babes need the warmth of the body; the apostles always baptized right away; they did extensive teaching afterward. The purpose of baptism: Romans 6:1-4

11. Celebrate the Lord’s Supper: cultivate deep fellowship with God (confess sins first) and fellow believers.
CautionThere is danger in failing to discern and respect Christ’s body in the Lord’s Supper: 1 Cor. 11:27-34. The purpose of the Lord’s Supper is to participate in the very body and blood of Christ—a serious experience: 1 Cor. 10:16-17.

12. Love God, fellow disciples, family, enemies (forgive), needy neighbors (mercy ministry).
Biblical supportLove for God: Mark 12:28-30. Fellow disciples: John 13:34-35. Family: Eph. 5:22 through 6:4. Enemies (forgive): Matt. 5:44; Eph. 4:32. Needy neighbor (love in a practical way): Luke 10:25-37

13. Pray daily: cultivate personal and family devotional life, listen to God’s voice, live by faith.
ReminderWorkers are to pray daily: Matt. 7:7 ,without ceasing: 1 Thess. 5:17

14. Give generously of all that God has entrusted to you (time, talent and treasure).
CautionA major cause of mission failure is building dependency among poor people by giving to them when they should be giving to others. Historically, God lifts Christians out of their poverty when they give in their poverty to others, as He promises in 2 Cor. 9:6-11. Give generously: Luke 6:38.

15. Make disciples: witness for Jesus, teach and apply the Word, train (model for others) to serve and lead.
ReminderWe make disciples on four levels: it begins with pagan peoples, then new believers, growing believers and leaders (Jesus spent most of His time discipling top level leaders--apostles). In Scripture discipling was seldom ‘one on one.’ All discipling builds on obedience to Jesus’ commands (Matt. 28:18-20); before Acts chapter two is finished the 3,000 converts of the first New Testament church are obeying all of His commands.

BEGIN MINISTRIES REQUIRED BY NEW TESTAMENT FOR CHURCHES

16. Give spiritual care and strengthen family life: Counsel persons with personal or family problems.
Biblical supportSpiritual counseling: 2 Tim. 3:16-17.

17. Worship in a way that ensures participation by all the believers who gather; include the Lord’s Supper and enable all ages to participate actively.
CautionWise church planters do not introduce Western music in other cultures; it attracts mainly young people and brands the church as foreign. Let nationals use their own music, poetry and other art forms. Worship in the New Testament had as its center the Lord’s Supper (Acts 2:42, 46; 20:7).
 

18. Start daughter churches that reproduce after their own kind: apprentice faithful, mature shepherds for them as Paul did.
Reminder
Church reproduction requires selection and training of good leaders: look out for immaturity, the hidden agenda. Find what their gifts are, their sense of calling, what they feel God wants them to do.

19. Send missionaries to unreached fields: include bi-vocational workers when and where necessary.
CautionDo not require poor churches to imitate Western mission agencies’ procedures: they are too expensive for them, require too many degrees and are often ineffective in deploying bi-vocational (self-supported) workers in fields with hostile authorities. Send true tentmakers who really earn their living as Aquila and Priscilla did--not just fully supported workers who merely pretend to be ‘tentmakers.’

  1. Mobilize all members to carry out gift-based ministries, including the activities on this chart.
    ReminderSpiritual gifts and their ministry purposes are listed in Romans 12, 1 Cor. Chapters 12 though 14 and Eph. 4:11-16. Mobilize members for all gift-based ministries required by the New Testament (all activities in this Guide). One person may have several gifts. God gives different gifts to different people. One gift may yield several ministries; one ministry may require several gifts.

21. Evaluate periodically all activities on this chart.
CautionPersevere in all essential activities; discern spiritual-sounding activities that are really distractions. Use this Guide as a check list for periodically evaluating your churches’ effectiveness in ministry.

DEVELOP LEADERS ON THE JOB: model all vital pastoral skills

22. Oversee and organize in a way that lets all members put to the test and freely use their spiritual gifts in ministry.
ReminderGood servant leaders open doors for people to try different gifts. Bad leaders demand perfection and control too much. The proper attitude for leaders: 1 Peter 5:1-4.

23. Watch over the flock: detect straying lambs and lurking wolves; heal the hurting, correct the unruly.
Biblical supportWatching over the flock: Acts 20:28-31; Matt. 7:15-23. Correcting the unruly: Matt. 15-18; Gal. 6:1.

24. Feed the flock: study, interpret and apply the Word of God.
ReminderHow to use the Word: 2 Tim. 3:16-17

25. Commission and train shepherds to marry, bury, dedicate children, lead meetings, serve Communion and baptize.
Lay hands on pastoral trainees when they have proven themselves with those whom they disciple: 1 Tim. 4:14. Celebrate holidays, weddings, burials, wakes, dedications, etc. In a way that is appropriate to the culture (find these things out first).

  1. Rightly handle the Word of God: provide tools for studying inductively and applying it at once to believers’ lives.
    RecommendationTeach workers to interpret the Word by taking into account the grammar, meaning of words, context (written and historical) and discerning what the writer wanted readers to do about it. Compare Acts 17:11.

TRAIN TRAINERS: mentor and multiply them in the spirit of 2 Timothy 2:2

27. In each mentoring session do these things (meet every two weeks if possible):
1) Listen to each trainee’s report on what his people are doing (never start planning, coaching or assigning tasks before you have done this)
2) Help each trainee to plan his and his people’s ministry: what to do before the next session, recording specific plans (names, dates, places)
3) Look over, or listen to, studies done (assigned last time)
4) Assign new studies, including reading that supports trainees’ plans
5) Pray (any time during the session)
For helpTo disciple leaders, use the Church Multiplication Guide (see #1)

28. Use materials geared to trainees’ flocks’ education level and culture.
For helpPastoral training materials proven effective for pioneer fields and church multiplication:
 Train and Multiply www.TrainAndMultiply.com,
 Paul-Timothy studies www.Paul-Timothy.net,
 Shepherd’s Storybook www.Paul-Timothy.net.
 These all are in several languages and are easy to translate.

29. Use a ‘menu’ to select teaching content (find what the church is hungry for--listen!).
ReminderThe ‘menu’ approach was Christ’s and Paul’s only method. Like a waiter in a restaurant, they listened first (or read letters) to know what their trainees and their churches needed; then they responded accordingly. Paul-Timothy studies, Train and Multiply (#28) use a menu.

30. Model a way of teaching that fits the culture, degree of secrecy needed and level of education.
ReminderIf church planters’ methods fit the culture and follow New Testament principles, churches will multiply. A mature church is fully planted when it reproduces within its culture without outsiders’ help. Do not aim at just one church in a field; it will become ingrown. Aim at a cluster.