MULTIPLICATION & 5 Reasons Churches Should Balance Their Internal & External Church Planting

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 2/19/17.

I want leaders to consider “external” and “internal” planting a bit more as they strategize the future of their ministry.  External planting is a somewhat typical semi-autonomous church plant by a mother church.  Internal planting is supporting sub-congregations of different cultural behaviors, ideas and styles within the mother church.

And, we need both. But usually when you hear “church planting’” you think of the former, the autonomous or semi-autonomous church plant: organizationally and locationally removed from the mother church.

But I want leaders to grasp the strategic idea of balancing external plants with internal plants.  We should have both and perhaps even balance them: 50% internal plants and 50% external plants.  To explain why, let me share some questions a student once asked about this.

The student said, “In the Missional Church course we learned that planting a church was one way to rejuvenate a local church’s lifecycle, and promote growth. Your response makes me think you disagree with that. I see how growing an internal sub-congregation will grow the main church, but isn’t the process of loosing members to the daughter church, and the daughter church having to learn to make its own way, what stimulates innovation, change, and growth in both churches? Perhaps I am just being too optimistic. I do not know the actual statistics for church plant survival, but I’ve read that it is anywhere from 50%-80%. People seem to get more excited about planting a church than adding a new service (even though adding the new service may cause more growth?). It may also be the denomination’s mindset. I get the impression that the number of churches (especially new churches) a denomination has is sometimes trumpeted more than the number of members. Which sounds better, ‘We have 100 churches with average attendance of 100 people at each’ or ‘We have 10 churches with an average attendance of 1000 people each.’ 100 churches could mean more communities being reached, while 10 huge churches could mean more work actually being done. When I read the core values and core scores of my denominational department of evangelism it seems more directed at planting new churches than growing existing ones.”

These are important questions. And here are my responses.

1. Yes, I disagree (as does Eddie Gibbs in I Believe in Church Growth, 1981, pp. 282-284) with solely external planting.  As a consultant I see the damage it does on a local level when we create an external plant without regard to fostering an internal plant in a nearby congregation (external plant cannibalizes local churches, while birthing competitive and weak plants).  I think you can see that internal planting is much better for the rationale I outlined.

2. Plus, an internal plant can have the same amount of innovation, change, and growth as does an external plan (look at how innovative youth ministries can be).  The internal plants also create an “economy of scale” as a church grows into a larger church with multiple sub-congregations (creating multi-cultural acceptance too).

3. And, I think you are right that external planting is more popular from a denominational perspective where the number of churches trumps health.  The Church of the Nazarene emphasizes internal planting more than Wesleyans and their churches are on average much larger than ours (creating sustainability and an economy of scale = they can do more).

4. You asked, “Which sounds better.  ‘We have 100 churches with average attendance of 100 people at each’ or ‘We have 10 churches with an average attendance of 1000 people each.’ 100 churches could mean more communities being reached, while 10 huge churches could mean more work actually being done.”  Because in my consultative experience I’ve found that you need on average 175 attendees for a church to have the range of ministries people have come to expect, those 100 churches of 100 people are likely struggling and not healthy. Thus, they are usually not reaching people anyway.

5. It seems to me that in 50% of these situations it might be better for the larger church to have a sub-congregational “venues” in these neighborhoods.  The venue could be a culturally distinct sub-congregation, but would have all of the financial and staff backing of the larger church.  The business world understands the importance of an economy of scale, but the church misses it and creates networks of struggling congregations.

A name for this type of church is The Multicultural Alliance Model.

See all five models here: MULTICULTURAL CHURCHES & 5 Models: A New Paradigm Evaluated and Differentiated #AICR #AcademyForInterculturalChurchResearch

MULTIPLICATION & Instead of planting an independent new church, what about planting a new venue instead? Pros & cons considered.

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 2/19/17.

A student once asked, “I am picturing a situation where a large church wants to plant an (independent) daughter church because they have a growing sub-congregation in the church that is mostly Hispanic, or Gen Y.  Is that a better way to help them, by launching them as an independent church plant?  Or can we help them better by offering to share the church with them as a venue or sub-congregation in the mother church?”

I replied …

What we often do when we launch a typical church “plant” is to create an “external” sub-congregation.  And, this is okay. But, I think it is usually not the best way to proceed.  Rather, the “internal planting” of a sub-congregation (fostering the growth of a sub-congregation that remains part of the church) is a better strategy.

This is because external plants have the following PLUSES (strengths) and NEGATIVES (weaknesses):

Short/long-term growth?

Pluses: External plants (in my consulting practice) grow quicker than Internal Plants (developing a sub-congregation and a venue), because they are homogeneous (i.e. largely attracting one culture).

Negatives: External plants (in my consulting practice) die quicker. They are smaller and often don’t reach critical mass for long-term sustainability.

Leadership?

Pluses: External plants have experienced leadership, because the leader has been trained in the mother church.

Negatives: External plants often lack good accountability and thus succumb to leadership/ethical weaknesses.

Attraction?

Pluses: External plants attract people who do not have a church home and/or who are dissatisfied with the church they attend.

Negatives: External plants often attract disgruntled people:

  1. Who don’t like the church they attend
  2. And/ or who do not want to rub shoulders with another culture (generational, ethnic, affinity, etc.). Thus, reconciliation does not take place.

More churches?

Pluses: External plants create more churches, though they may be smaller and not healthy for many years.

Negatives: External plants often kill existing churches, when the people who are attracted to the external plant leave the mother church, and other churches, weakening the churches they left.  This is the main reason pastors of established churches don’t like external plants, it cannibalizes the people they need to survive.

Diversity?

Pluses: External plants cater to a specific cultural market.  This creates a like-minded community that grows because of the things it holds in common.

Negatives: External plants don’t promote inter-cultural understanding.  This would be like the second-generation Koreans wanting their own church. The first-generation Koreans would feel abandoned and disconnected. And the externally planted 2nd-gen congregation might develop distain (due to distance) for the 1st-gen culture.

This illustration highlights the differences between first and second generational cultures.  But it happens in even a more damaging fashion between ethnic cultures.

The result of a good work, like church planting, can be that the cultures are distance organizationally and physically from one another by the planting of a separate congregation.

But it often makes the mother church feel good, because it can say, “We planted another church.” But in reality they often push them away because of their differences.  This creates distance between them and us. In my consulting work, no matter how much churches protest they … “Will stay connected to our daughter church,” they never stay as close as they would if they were sharing the church as fellow sub-congregations.

Thus, if a church is really committed to reconciliation and multi-culturalism (as I am) then Internal Planting is the better choice. Thus, with Internal Planting the church becomes in a community the main avenue for building multi-cultural understanding and tolerance, e.g. unity building and changing biases.

A name for this type of church is The Multicultural Alliance Model.

See all five models here: MULTICULTURAL CHURCHES & 5 Models: A New Paradigm Evaluated and Differentiated #AICR #AcademyForInterculturalChurchResearch

MULTIPLICATION & 40 Business Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read Before Setting up a Startup #BusinessNewsDaily

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Having coached many, many church plants, I’ve discovered their mistakes were often made due to a lack of basic business and management skills. This list of business books will provide the business foundation that ministry entrepreneurs need. Business News Daily put together this list of 40 books after asking management professionals what every entrepreneur should read. You will find many of these are recommended readings for my Doctor of Ministry cohorts.”

Read the list at … http://mostread.in/40-business-books-every-entrepreneur-should-read-before-setting-up-a-startup/

CHURCH PLANTING INTERNALLY & A Student Responds: If They Invested Church Planting Money In Us … We’d Be Growing Too!

by Bob Whitesel, 5/19/15.

A student once shared how he felt offended by the cold shoulder he received from pastors of nearby churches of the same denomination, when he went to raise money for a church plant.  He said, “When I visited with local church pastors to introduce myself and share my vision, almost immediately I sensed these pastor’s turn their focus on (their)self by their behaviors (the cold shoulder kind of treatment)…We heard statements like, ‘If they invested that kind of money in our established churches we would be growing too’.”

I responded with the following:

Healthy Church Cover smLet me explain what I see from the other side of the fence 🙂  And, please hear me on this, I do not feel this is often the fault of these pastors.  They are laboring for years in the field, and they need help. Then the denomination plants a church of the same denomination nearby.  This can overnight, decimate the older church’s long hard work.  That is what they fear.  They fear the sense of abandonment they see in the eyes of dear long-suffering and long-working saints, who are now eclipsed by a denomination that gives up on them.

I have worked with hundreds of these aging congregations, and many, many have life in them.  They just need the right leader to revise them.  One of my friends took a dying church in Tipp City Ohio with 40 people and grew it to a mega-church.

So, I do not doubt they have said these hurting things to you and others.  But, I don’t feel the problem is them … but the problem is our strategy.  In the business world we would never start a competing organization when we already have a product in that market that is on life-support.  It takes more money (and work) to start a new product line (or church plant) that to revitalize an aging one (aging churches have experienced leaders, assets, facilities, social capital, etc.).

But, granted planting a church is faster, for you don’t have baggage to deal with.  But in the process we jettison many senior saints who have labored for years in the field, robbing them of some steadfastness in their latter years.

I know you are a sharp student, and a gifted leader.  And, I ask you to look beyond those who have hurt you to those senior saints in these congregations that are finding their churches undercut and left behind.  They have great resident power, if only we will work with them too.

Now, I’m not suggesting we don’t do external plants.  I think we should!  But, we also must do internal plants.  Both are needed for healthy ministry.  Resentment only comes when one receives emphasis more than the other.

MULTICULTURAL & 5 Models of Multicultural/Multiethnic Churches: A New Paradigm Evaluated & Differentiated

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min. Ph.D.

Published by The Great Commission Research Journal (La Mirada, Calif: Talbot School of Theology, Biola University), vol. 6, issue 1, 2014, pp. 22-35.

Abstract

This article puts forth a comprehensive and reconciliation-based paradigm through which to view multicultural congregations as one of five models or types. It updates the historical categories of Sanchez, adds contemporary models and then evaluates each through a 10-point grid of: nomenclature, mode of growth, relationships, pluses, minuses, degree of difficulty, creator complex, redistribution, relocation and reconciliation. The five models are: 1) the asset sharing Multicultural Alliance, 2) the collaborative Multicultural Partnership, 3) the asymmetrical Mother-Daughter model, 4) the popular Blended approach and 5) the Cultural Assimilation model. The result is a comprehensive five-model paradigm that includes an assessment of each model’s potential for spiritual and intercultural reconciliation.

Article

This article assesses the strengths and weaknesses of different multicultural[1] church models. Daniel Sanchez offered some of the earliest depictions of such models,[2] but 35 years later they beg to be updated. And despite the proliferation of books on the topic, no significant updating or additions to Sanchez’s categories have been offered other than the Sider et. al. partnership model.[3]

In addition, there is a vibrant discussion today regarding how John Perkins’ intercultural goals of redistribution, relocation and reconciliation are being addressed by churches.[4] Therefore, it can be helpful to assess how well different models of multicultural congregations are addressing each of Perkins’ intercultural reconciliation goals.

The following five models of multicultural congregations suggest a new and contemporized paradigm. I will analyze each through a 10-point grid of: nomenclature, mode of growth, relationships, pluses, minuses, degree of difficulty, creator complex, redistribution, relocation and reconciliation…

Download the full article here: ARTICLE ©Whitesel – GCRJ-Published Multicultural MODELS

[1] Though the term multiethnic church is often used today, I will use the broader term multicultural, since culture is a more accurate way to describe people who share similar behaviors, ideas, fashion, literature, music, etc. [c.f. Paul Hiebert, Cultural Anthropology, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1976), p. 25]. Ethnicity is a type of culture often based on biological connections to a geographic area of origin, such as Sri Lankans (from the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka), Yemenis (from the Republic of Yemen) or Chinese (from the People’s Republic of China). But the term ethnicity is very imprecise, because there may be dozens of different ethnic groups that hail from the same area of origin. Since ethnicity is so imprecise, culture will be utilized in this article.

[2] Daniel Sanchez, “Viable Models for Churches in Communities Experiencing Ethnic Transition.” (paper, Pasadena, CA: Fuller Theological Seminary, 1976).

[3] Ronald J. Sider, John M. Perkins, Wayne L. Gordon, and F. Albert Tizon, Linking Arms, Linking Lives: How Urban-Suburban Partnerships Can Transform Communities, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2008).

[4] John M. Perkins, A Quiet Revolution: The Christian Response to Human Need, a Strategy for Today (Pasadena, CA: Urban Family Publications, 1976), p. 220.

This article is excerpted and reedited from The Healthy Church: Practical Ways to Strengthen a Church’s Heart (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2013).

MULTIPLICATION & Igniting a Multiplication Culture in Your Church #Exponential

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Todd Wilson gets it right: church multiplication means multiplying cultures (i.e a multiplication culture) rather then just trying to only expand one culture (an addition culture). Wilson primarily focuses on “external church planting” but his tactics are identical to starting multiple-sites, multiple-campuses and multiple-venues (as long as the multiplication of cultures is the goal). Get a free download of this concise, but good, overview of the multiplication process.”

SPARK: IGNITING A CULTURE OF MULTIPLICATION

by Todd Wilson

In this FREE resource, Exponential Director Todd Wilson presses into Exponential’s 2015 theme, “SPARK: Igniting a Culture of Multiplication,” to give church leaders a vision for reproducing churches and the tools needed to see that vision come to fruition…

He offers an exploration of what Scripture says about God’s command to multiply and out of that scriptural study comes fresh insight as he contends that the U.S. church needs both addition (what he calls the micro strategy of adding disciples one on one, and life on life) and multiplication (the macro strategy of reproducing churches). He writes: “We must purpose to continually ask ourselves, ‘How do we help everyone in our church reach their ‘next one’? while simultaneously asking, ‘How do we release and send people to reach the next 100,000?’”

Finally, SPARK identifies and examines 18 of the very real tensions that inhibit multiplication, pointing out that how church leaders face and maneuver through these tensions might be the most significant blessings that shape their church’s culture and DNA… Download your FREE copy here.

Read more at … http://www.exponential.org/news/new-free-ebook-igniting-a-multiplication-culture-in-your-church/