If we’re going to create a movement of reproducing churches and missional communities, we must understand that a church plant is a dynamic organization with a cyclical lifespan. We must understand that churches exist in seasons and each season has unique goals and challenges. Understanding these seasons will help you discern what season you’re in, what you’re trying to accomplish and how you’re going to go about doing it.
So what might it look like to understand your church plant as a dynamic entity with a cyclic lifespan?
I’ve thought about this and read from others (namely Aubrey Malphurs and Ed Stetzer) and have developed what I am calling the 5 Season Cycle of Planting. The heart of my model is a gathering and scattering strategy. I contend that if we committed ourselves to the 5 Season Cycle, we would see more healthy reproducing churches planted.
Keep in mind this is a 40,000 sketch of a work in progress. I will fill in more details in later posts.
1. Residency Season (Preparation)
Somewhere between 1 to 2 years before your launch you should be participating in an active residency with a church that plants churches. Here, the planter is preparing himself for launch, identifying location and fundraising while learning both the strategic and tactical elements of planting from the sending church. This is a season of active learning and reflection.
2. Pre-Launch Season (Planning)
This is somewhere between 6 and 12 months out from your hard-launch date. You’re on location and the details are starting to come into focus. This is a time of intense preparation and team development. Your building a launch team, developing leaders, casting vision, fundraising, serving the community and building a ton of relationships with people in the community.
3. Launch Season (Execution)
This season includes your hard launch date and the subsequent 6 to 8 weeks immediately following. During this season your executing the plan and making things happen. You’re starting small groups and serving the community. Your goal is to launch large in order to build momentum to sustain the cycle. During this season you are also identifying your first leadership resident.
4. Post-Launch Season (Consolidating)
This season starts 1 to 2 years after your hard launch date. This season should end with your plant being financially self-sustaining and the next generation of leaders emerging for mission. Your team should be serving the community and building lots of new relationships. You are also training and developing your leadership resident.
5. Reproducing Season (Sending)
This season is approximately 2 to 3 years after launch. It’s the season during which you move from 1 to 2 services or reproduce a network of small groups or missional communities. It’s the season of consolidation before you start preparing for the next launch (or missional community) and doing it all over again. It’s the season when you send out a new planter (hopefully your leadership resident) and a team to start another church.
I suspect that if every new church followed the 5 Season Cycle faithfully and consistently, we would get closer to a movement. And that all starts, church planter, when you understand the cyclic nature of a church plant and embrace it.
What are your thoughts? Does this help you think about the life-cycle of your church plant in a new way? What have I missed? What have I got wrong?
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