Archives For Church Planting

In recent weeks, I have found myself reflecting quite a bit on the past 15 years of my life. I am not exactly sure why (perhaps it is because I have been an adult for almost 50% of my life?), but as I shared with a college-aged student yesterday, there is no way I could have mapped out the course my life has taken.

When I came to embrace the doctrines of grace, I did not enter the typical “cage stage” that people talk about. For me, the sovereignty of God was my lifeline. Either God was in control of every detail of my life for my good and his glory, or I had really no point in believing or living out my faith. In a short period of time, my world was rocked time and again.

In my first position at a local church, I served with several of my roommates and friends, all who came to embrace the doctrines of grace at some point in that journey of college life. While I was the least Reformed at that point, I guess you could say I had the roughest experience. My tenure at the church did not last long as I was physically threatened while being “kicked out” (not excommunicated but threatened to leave) by the senior pastor and education pastor (who called me “Absalom” and verbally assaulted me for 3 hours). That’s not the way you want to begin a lifelong call to gospel ministry to say the least. What happened in those early days were formative moments that would mark my life forever, and I am profoundly grateful to God for the brothers He placed in my life.

Over time, all of my brothers from those college years went their separate ways. We represented, I suppose you could say, the early stages of the young, restless, and Reformed movement. In the following years, the debate over Calvinism would hit a feverish pitch, mostly with charges that Calvinism stifles missions/evangelism and kills churches. This blog was very involved in the early years of the debate to offer rebuttals to many of the critiques that were leveled against Calvinists in the SBC, and it is without question that people loved to debate Calvinism (my stats were way higher then than they are today).

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outsourcingOver five years ago, I asked the question about the outsourcing of the local church. It is a question that has not left me since then. I don’t know when it began, how it developed, or why we got here, but we cannot escape this reality that has existed for far too long. Nor am I interested in spending energy to determine who is to blame. Rather, I want to invest my life in the dream of changing the direction from outsourcing the local church to insourcing the local church. Until we have this significant paradigm shift in our thinking, any thought of seeing a serious Great Commission movement in North America is disingenuous.

The Great Commission was given by Christ for the local church. Jesus Christ promised to build His church. When we see the outworking of the Great Commission in the book of Acts, we see the fruit of that promise in the exercise of making disciples, raising up leaders, and planting churches. It is my desire and dream to see churches take greater ownership of the Great Commission with deeper faith in the promises of Jesus to do through the local church what only He can do.

I am not naive to think that insourcing the local church will become an overnight trend. Let’s face it. Outsourcing the responsibilities of the local church is convenient and (sometimes) efficient. Who do we write the check to? To tackle an issue like this requires a philosophical reframing of ecclesiological convictions. By that I mean, our thinking deeply about the Great Commission will require us to give sacrificially in order to focus intentionally on what Jesus has called us to do in His name. It is a stewardship issue, and we cannot shift or shirk the responsibility.

The Great Commission is to be worked out in the context of the local church, by means of the local church, and for the multiplication of the local church. That means disciple-making, leadership development, and church planting (three graduating expressions of the Great Commission) must find their home in the local church where insourcing is the passionate commitment of its pre-determined vision. As the director of the PLNTD Network, we have made that central to our mission, namely that church planting should be done in the church, by the church, and for the church.

Insourcing means that prophets will be devoted to communicating the vision and clarifying the mission of the Great Commission; priests will be devoted to mobilizing people and creating a culture where it is celebrated; kings will be devoted to fostering pathways and on ramps through systems and structures to administrate the vision and bring it to fruition. In the midst of all this, there is a pervasive expectation for multiplication because the mission has been simplified through a focused alignment to mobilize the people of God as a disciple-making family of servants dedicated to the cause of His kingdom come.

The history of outsourcing needs to have a conclusion. The consequences of outsourcing have led to an immobilization of mission and has undermined any Great Commission resurgence we long to see in our generation. A dream of mine is to see that change. In the coming weeks, I hope to explain more of my thinking on this, and in the coming months through PLNTD, I will be working diligently to see this dream begin to become a reality. If this is something you resonate with, I ask that you join me in the cause of insourcing the local church. It is not enough that we talk about. We need to rally together and give ourselves to it. Jesus promised to build His church, and I believe it is time that we make the changes to show that we believe His promise is true.

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In the vast array of conferences available today, church leaders can get attend an event for just about anything they are passionate about. Some people attend conferences because of the tribe they belong to; others go to conferences on the issues or practices they care most about. Over the past several years, I have forced myself to be more disciplined in my time away from family and local church responsibilities with attending and participating in conferences.  Having said that, one training event that I highly recommend and remain committed to participating in is the GCA National Conference

I’m not opposed to going to conferences or bootcamps where you can hear your favorite preacher deliver an encouraging or challenging message. We need those for sure. But more than that, we need more practitioner-driven, nuts-and-bolts training that can have tangible, ongoing benefit for the ministry leader. When it comes to church planting, I don’t know of any other organization that does this better than Steve Childers and Global Church Advancement.

On January 22-25, 2013, current and aspiring church planters will have the opportunity to learn from leading practitioners from across numerous networks, including Ed Stetzer, Randy Nabors, Randy Pope, Bob Cargo, Tom Wood, Larry Kirk, and others. I have personally attended this training twice and led as a practitioner twice. I have sent all of our church planters and their teams to the week of training as well. Needless to say, I’m a believer in the benefit this week brings in all aspects of church planting–theological, missiological, spiritual, and practical.

The training event takes place in Orlando, Florida (which will be stellar in January). The training is intensive and interactive. The community is engaging and encouraging. The instruction is practical and contextual. AND with the extension of the early bird discount to this Friday, the cost is rather affordable.

For those who register by this Friday, you will be able to take advantage of the early bird discount. This week of training is the equivalent of an entire seminary course on church planting at a fraction of the cost. I plan on being there (along with PLNTD) and hopefully will see some of you there as well.

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My friend Garrett Ventry is a church planting intern at Vintage 21 in Raleigh and responsible for many church planting training initiatives in the RDU area. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know him in recent months, and he has asked me to write on his blog about the message of the church planter (the gospel). Below is my answer, originally posted yesterday on his website.


The gospel of Jesus Christ is a message of uniqueness and universality. The former speaks of the subject matter; the latter addresses the subject’s supremacy over all things. Jesus Christ is the sum and substance of the Christian faith. He is the exact revelation of God—His character and His ways. As the image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15), Jesus displays all the manifold perfections of God’s character, and through His incarnation brings it down to our neighborhood for us to behold (John 1:14). In profound irony, the radiance of the glory of God that transcends what any human eye can be allowed to see (Heb. 1:3), and yet at the same time God sent His Son to earth so that through the eyes of faith we could see such glory in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6).


The Gospel is a message of uniqueness. It separates Christianity from all other religions of the world. It has divine origin. In the covenant of redemption, God the Father planned salvation before the world begin through the sacrifice of His Son that would be supernaturally applied through the regenerating work of His Spirit. It is preeminently God’s gospel. He came up with it, and therefore we are not authorized to edit or censor it.

The Gospel is also unique because it is an announcement. While all other religions tell us what we must do, the gospel tells what God has already done in Christ. While religions tell us we must work ourselves into acceptance with God, the Gospel tells us we are accepted through the finished work of Jesus Christ. Religions are centered on good advice (what we must do); Christianity is centered on good news (what we must hear and believe). Therefore, unlike what many have mistaken Christianity for, it is not a religion of do’s and don’ts. Rather Christianity is a family whereby sons and daughters are adopted because our elder Brother took our place and in love brought us into the Father’s presence. He came down to rescue us precisely because we could never come up to Him.

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We are two weeks away from the PLNTD/Gospel Appliance New England Conference on “Cultivating Gospel Mission”. We are pumped to have Scotty Smith, Caesar Kalinowski, and Jared Wilson speaking to a nice cadre of men and women from around New England on gospel renewal and reviving work of mission in this pioneering region of the country.

Over two months ago, we sold out of the pre-conference, where Caesar Kalinowski will be teaching on “The Story-Formed Way”.  We are glad to announce that we have made it possible for 10 more slots for this pre-conference training. In order to take advantage of this opening, those interested need to register on our conference Eventbrite page. These pre-conference registrations will likely go quickly, so be sure to sign up ASAP if you are looking to attend.

I look forward to seeing many of you in Portland! I hear Maine is beautiful this time of year . . .

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This week starts a new emphasis with the Roots Reading Initiative. We just completed the focus on “The Man” and are getting ready to close out our first full year of deepening our roots in great books to grow leaders in local churches. If you’d like to get the scoop on what RRI seeks to accomplish and how we are doing this, here’s a great place to start. So far, here are the emphases and corresponding books we have studied:

Nov/Dec 2011: The Mission

Jan/Feb 2012: The Message

Mar/Apr 2012: The Marriage

May/Jun 2012: The Methods

Jul/Aug 2012: The Man

As you can see, we have covered all 5 M’s so far (Man, Message, Mission, Methods, and Marriage). So we are starting over for Sep-Oct. 2012 with THE MISSION. In our first go-around, we focused on the What? question related to mission. This time we are looking to focus on the How? question – namely how to make disciples of Jesus. The two books we have selected for this focus is Gospel-Centered Discipleship by Jonathan Dodson and Transformational Discipleship: How People Really Grow by Eric Geiger, Michael Kelly, and Phillip Nation.

For those interested in joining in the reading, here’s the breakdown we are working off of each week:

September 2-8           Gospel-Centered Discipleship                 1-50
September 9-15         Gospel-Centered Discipleship                 51-74
September 16-22      Gospel-Centered Discipleship                 75-118
September 23-30      Gospel-Centered Discipleship                119-56



October 1-6                Transformational Discipleship               1-68
October 7-13              Transformational Discipleship              69-112
October 14-20           Transformational Discipleship              113-74
October 21-31           Transformational Discipleship               175-225


Let me encourage those of you interested in deepening your roots in discipleship to join us for the next two months, especially those of you who are church planters. At the heart of the mission is the command to make disciples of Jesus. Everything else is secondary. What is your disciple-making plan? How are you going to make, mature, and multiply gospel-centered disciples? I believe resources like these will be a great encouragement to you, so join us!

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The third and final training event in the “Cultivating” theme of the PLNTD Network is scheduled to take place Nov. 1-3, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee. Earlier this Spring, PLNTD hosted “Cultivating Gospel Community” in South Florida with Steve Timmis and Tim Chester. Next month, PLNTD will host “Cultivating Gospel Mission” in New England with Caesar Kalinowski and Scotty Smith. And finally, on November 1-3, PLNTD will host “Cultivating Gospel Leadership” in Nashville with Ed Stetzer and Trevin Wax.

In some circles you can find a lot of the conversation focused on church leadership. In other circles, a lot of the conversation is about gospel centrality. However, rarely do you find those two topics addressed by the same people. In the Nashville training event, we hope to forward the development of thinking in this regard, namely to have a philosophy of leadership driven by a robust commitment of the gospel and seeing its implications worked out in local church life.

To do this, we have asked Ed Stetzer and Trevin Wax to come and speak on what exactly gospel-driven leadership looks like in the church. Stetzer will tackle the topic largely from a leadership emphasis while Wax will help us think about leadership from a gospel grid, bringing emphasis to how our identity in Christ shapes how we lead others in ministry. In addition to these main session talks, there will also be two panel discussions and two breakout sessions to break down gospel-driven leadership in greater detail, including its practical outworking in various seasons and ministry contexts.

Some of you here know that I have studied and written somewhat extensively about triperspectivalism and church leadership. For the Nashville training event, I agreed to do a pre-conference (limited to 40 people) on the nature, framework, and outworking of triperspectivalism in church life, including cultural engagement, disciple-making, spiritual formation, preaching, prayer, and leadership development. This will take place Thursday night (Nov. 1) and Friday morning (Nov. 2). If you are looking to consider a gospel-centered philosophy of leadership, I encourage you to jump into this pre-conference! It will be practical and interactive, giving you margin to explore how such a paradigm of leadership could work in your church or ministry.

This training event is open to pastors and church planters, to leadership teams and launch teams, to seminary/college students and ministry interns/apprentices. Basically, if you are aspiring to lead in the local church and want to press into a distinctly gospel-driven flavor of leadership, we encourage you to come!

This week only, we have a special registration rate of just $29. At midnight Saturday night, this opening rate registration will end, so don’t delay! You can get all the details about hotels, restaurants, schedule, etc. at the conference website. I hope to see many of you there!

Conference Website || Register!


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With the start of July comes another installment of the Roots Reading Initiative. For those unfamiliar with this project from PLNTD, the details can be found here. Basically, every two months we highlight one of five key areas of assessing biblically qualified church planters. Those areas are:

1.  The Man
2. The Mission
3. The Message
4. The Methods
5. The Marriage

Each two month focus on one of these themes includes approximately 400 pages of self-feeding/training for prospective or current church planters to better equip themselves in the work God has assigned.  To catch you up to speed, so far we have completed the following:

Nov/Dec 2011: The Mission
Jan/Feb 2012: The Message
Mar/Apr 2012: The Marriage
May/Jun 2012: The Methods

The upcoming two months focus on “The Man”, and the two books we will be reading together are Church Planter by Darrin Patrick and Am I Called? by Dave Harvey.  These two resources address specifically the calling and character men seeking to lead God’s church, and I commend them to you.  Here’s the outline for the next two months for those who would like to join in:

July 2-7            Church Planter         1-58
July 8-14          Church Planter         59-106
July 9-21          Church Planter         107-72
July 22-28       Church Planter         173-238

August 1-4        Am I Called               1-32
August 5-11      Am I Called               33-70
August 12-18   Am I Called               71-112
August 19-31    Am I Called               113-200

At the conclusion of each book, we compile the discussion questions into a study guide for those in our network looking to train leaders, church planting apprentices, or other people in their church. For more information, visit the Roots Reading Initiative page on the PLNTD website.

Subscribe to Provocations & Pantings | Contact Timmy Brister

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PLNTD announced today its second regional conference of the year – Cultivating Gospel Mission, scheduled to take place on September 20-22, 2012 in Portland, Maine. Main session speakers will be Scotty Smith and Caesar Kalinowski, with breakout sessions with Jared Wilson. This week only, you can register for 50% off regular ticket price for just $29 (discount ends Friday night). If you live in the New England or Canada area, be sure to check this training event out.

Here’s a blurb from the conference website:

We live in a day where it is commonplace to hear the words “gospel-centered” and “missionally-driven”. The danger, however, is to use those phrases in ways that diminish their meaning to that of a cliché. At the 2012 New England Training Event, PLNTD partners with the Gospel Alliance to focus on why those phrases are grounded in God and His purposes for the church.

Every church planter and pastor should lead their people to live gospel-centered lives on mission as those who have been sent by God. What does that kind of life look like? How does articulate this kind of vision to people in their community? These are the kinds of questions we hope to address as we gather together on September 20-22.

This training event is open to anyone who would like to be instructed and encouraged to cultivate gospel mission, including pastors, church planters, aspiring ministry leaders, leadership teams, and the like.

Unlike the typical conference format, the goal of this training event is interaction, integration and application of teaching and instruction. Our desire is that you leave equipped with practical instruction, edified through meaningful fellowship, and encouraged by Christ-centered passion for greater kingdom advance.

Join us as we press into the call to be oriented around the mission of church and saturated in the message of the gospel!

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In the beginning of April, PLNTD held its first regional training event focused on “Cultivating Gospel Community” in sunny Southwest Florida. We were privileged to have Steve Timmis and Jared Wilson share God’s Word with us during the weekend. These brothers served us incredibly well by speaking plainly about the power of the gospel while graciously exhorting us to faithful perseverance in building gospel community.

Jared opened and closed the training event with exposition from Isaiah 6, and he also shared in a breakout session about creating a gospel culture using his experience at Middletown Springs Community Church. I commend these MP3s for you to download and be encouraged.

Jared Wilson via PLNTD

1.  Gospel Exultation (Isaiah 6:1-8)
2.  Gospel Expansion (Isaiah 6:9-13)
3.  Creating a Gospel Culture (breakout)

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