The 7Systems.church assessment and planning tool is based upon research of 32,000 churches combined with 29 years of consulting practice by Bob Whitesel D.Min. Ph.D.
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by Michael Fries, LifeWay, 4/16/18.
… We’re partnering with a local church to plant an autonomous congregation in our city, and we’re also planting additional campuses of our own church. In doing so, we’ve had to develop ways to pinpoint where to plant in our city.
1. KNOW THE SOCIAL MAKEUP OF YOUR COMMUNITY.
Learning about your community is simple. While it’s possible to spend a fair amount of money for detailed demographic reports, you can also learn valuable information while spending next to nothing.
Begin with the U.S. Census Bureau website. Use its free tools to identify what is happening in the immediate areas around your church and in the larger area that makes up your community.
2. KNOW THE RELIGIOUS MAKEUP OF YOUR COMMUNITY.
… TheARDA.com is a useful tool that allows you to research the religious affiliation of your area based on city name, zip code and other search parameters.
3. MAP THE MEMBERS OF YOUR CHURCH.
Missiologist Keelan Cook has made mapping a fairly simple process. His mapping tool uses Google Maps to let you quickly identify the geographic makeup of your congregation. You can access his tool at bit.ly/keelancook.
Once you have uploaded your membership database into the tool, it will produce a digital map that will allow you to identify your members’ areas of concentration.
4. MAP THE CHURCHES IN YOUR COMMUNITY.
It may require a bit more time to accomplish this task, as you will need to enter the addresses of every local church into a database. Then you can upload them into the tool mentioned above and produce a digital map pinpointing every church in your community.
Too often churches overlook this step. They simply look to identify pockets of need without carefully considering who else might already be working in those areas.
5. IDENTIFY GROWTH AREAS.
The final step is setting priorities based on growth projections.
Population movement is significant in evaluating the need for a church plant. Expanding areas need more churches, and congregations in those areas have greater potential to grow.
If migration patterns and growth areas are not easy to identify, this information can often be found by contacting your city manager or chamber of commerce.
These steps will help you develop a database of target areas and a methodology of church planting. But the value of studying your community goes beyond knowing where you should plant a church and what kind of church to plant.
“John (Wesley) saw most religion as self-seeking, designed to focus on the Christian’s needs, comfort, and pleasure. He began to realize the New Testament Christianity (which he sometimes called ‘primitive’ Christianity) was more about restoring purity in the church and a willingness to selflessly serve others, rather than an insistence on being served.”
Enthusiast! Finding a Faith That Fills (Wesleyan Publishing House, 2018), p. 42.
Commentary by Prof. B: I’ve created this video to not only introduce colleagues and clients to the efficacy of a “4-Stage Outreach Strategy,” but also to give my online students a sense of an introduction I would give in a live classroom. The viewer will find a concise intro to why most outreach efforts fail … because they are not holistically incorporating all “4-stages” of an outreach strategy. Plus, my LEAD-600 students will find this a helpful introduction to their classroom assignments on need-based outreach.
©️Bob Whitesel 2017, used by permission only.
“I’m not particularly attracted to a religion where someone approaches me in the parking lot of a grocery store with a tract in hand, telling me I’m going to hell, without ever once considering the possibility that I might need help carrying my groceries.”
Commentary by Professor B: This was a short fable shared with me by a former student. It illustrates succinctly why we should utilize a need-based approach to outreach. Larry wrote:
Prof. Whitesel, I’m doing a response for Bible as Christian Scripture and recalled a quote from a friend of my son’s some years that reminded me of your book, Cure for the Common Church, and in particular, your prescription for growing O.U.T.
The response touched on how we want to world to see us, as a source of judgement or a source of the Good News. The quote I recalled from my son’s friend: “I’m not particularly attracted to a religion where someone approaches me in the parking lot of a grocery store with a tract in hand, telling me I’m going to hell, without ever once considering the possibility that I might need help carrying my groceries.”
Thought you might enjoy that. Larry
“Wesley did not overlook the possible positive evangelistic impact resulting from Christian engagement in such open-ended works of mercy. But the specific potential effect that he highlighted was not the enticement of uncommitted persons to embrace the Christian faith by addressing their physical needs. Rather, he hoped to overcome the widespread crisis of credibility of Christian witness through the increased number of Christians who would model authentic loving care for others!” (Maddox, 2002)
Maddox, Randy L. (2002) “Visit the poor” John Wesley, The Poor and The Sanctification of Believers. Kingswood books Nashville, (pg 69).
Retrieved by Salvation Army officer Regina Shull as part of an assignment for LEAD 600.
social engagement action need-meeting