By Doug Talley
I love the excitement being generated by church multiplication across our state – not because we’re in competition with other states to see who can have the most congregations but because each new work will reach people that an established work is not likely to reach. It is all about making more disciples and making disciples who are more like Jesus. Transformation is at the heart of our mission as local congregations and a state ministry.
One of my overarching goals when I began as executive state pastor just over 10 years ago was to shift the responsibility for planting churches from the state office back to the local church. The Church of God Movement began about 80 years before Indiana Ministries was created. During those eight decades, local churches planted congregations in nearby communities. In other cases individuals or couples felt the call of God to move to another community in the state to start a new work. But over time we consolidated the responsibility for planting in the state office, thus limiting the frequency of new starts.
I hold the conviction that it is more effective for local churches to plant churches than for that responsibility to be delegated to the state office. My intent is not for Indiana Ministries to go AWOL on church multiplication, but for IM to support local congregations in the planting of new works. It’s not about decreasing the role of IM but elevating the role of the local church.
As church multiplication gets more and more traction, I pray that individuals and churches will feel the call of God to initiate a multiplication project. I specifically pray that God will free me from thinking that I as state pastor need to control this multiplication process. I ardently desire that God will call multipliers and deploy them across our state (and nation) at a more rapid pace than Indiana Ministries can keep up with them. In other words I do not want IM to be a bottleneck for church multiplication by requiring that every multiplication and every multiplier go through the state office or be sanctioned by IM.
Tom Planck, IM’s Director of Multiplication, and I have recently identified at least two categories of multiplication ventures. We are calling these endorsed multiplications and affiliated multiplications. Let me describe the difference.
Endorsed church plants are led by persons who are following an established IM multiplication process. IM has some resources to invest in a new church venture, but those resources are limited. To be good stewards of those resources IM has identified a multiplication process that we follow. It includes:
* Satisfactory completion of a church planter assessment.
* Completion of one or more of the following designed for church planters: boot camp, training course, or residency.
* Development of a covenant between the sending church, the church plant, and Indiana Ministries which identifies the multiplication strategy, key milestones, points of accountability, and financial commitments.
* Selection of an approved church planting coach.
* A representative of IM serving on the board of the project.
* IM serves as the supervisor of the project.
Affiliated church plants are led by persons who feel called to plant a church and are following a different process. These multipliers (usually licensed or ordained by the Church of God or willing to be) have expressed a desire for the new work to be affiliated with the Church of God and Indiana Ministries, and we want to affirm that. We are hopeful that God will bless the project with missional effectiveness and growth. While we hope the multiplier will adopt best practices for planting, IM does not have an official role in supervising or resourcing the project.
Indiana Ministries welcomes both kinds of multiplication projects! We long to see a day when the Spirit of God is moving with such freedom across our Movement and across Indiana that church plants and campuses are frequently emerging to reach and disciple people for Jesus. Our desire is to fan into flame the spread of the gospel so that lives, families, and communities are transformed by the gospel. The people whom God calls to plant do not need permission from IM to launch a multiplication project. Our prayer is that God will raise up multipliers across our state and nation so that persons may experience the power of God in their lives. We want to bless any multiplication project that serves Kingdom purposes.
If you have questions about this distinction between endorsed and affiliated churches, or if you or your church are interested in starting a new work, please contact Tom (firstname.lastname@example.org) or me (email@example.com) to let us know.