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Training Within the Local Church

Michael Gatlin

Michael Gatlin

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Training church planters really well is a vital part of launching a successful church plant. When we set out to equip these people to lead, there are three main areas that our training needs to cover, which can be summed up as knowing, being, and doing. Knowing has to do with learning and information—theology and other academic topics, for example—while being is all about personal and spiritual formation. Doing covers practical skills and the activities of ministry and church planting.

We’re convinced that the very best way for church planters to get training in all three areas is to learn right in their local church, supplementing the training and experience they get there with some high-quality outside resources and teaching. That way, church planters can learn the practical doing side of church planting as they encounter real pastoral situations that arise in the daily life of a church. Their being—their heart, mind, and spirit—can be shaped by the love, diversity, and even conflict of a healthy community. And the knowing aspect they learn from books and classes is so much more memorable when they can immediately apply it to what they are already doing in the church.

This is beneficial in so many ways! Everyone gets enriched by the process. As a pastor, you not only get to really invest in the lives of new leaders and church planters, but while they’re training with you, you’ve got these dedicated, gifted people who want to learn by doing, so you get to do and accomplish a lot more ministry than you could without them. Of course, this also means that sometimes you have to go back and clean up messy mistakes. But even the messes can be an excellent opportunity for church planters to learn how to apologize and clean up their own messes really well.

There’s also something very special about the way all your hearts get knit together through the process. As a pastor, I feel much more invested in the people that I’ve personally trained and poured into. I believe in them, because I’ve gotten to help shape their character and I’ve witnessed their growth. And even when we’ve discovered that a particular person isn’t ready or isn’t called to church planting, I’ve seen some of them still stick around to discover what they’re really made for, or to get more healing and development. Instead of getting angry or leaving, they have stayed in community because of the relationships they’ve developed with me and with the church as a whole.

In service of pastors who want to provide this kind of training, the Multiply Vineyard team and I are constantly working to provide tools and resources to make the task easier. To that end, we’ve put together the grid our outline for a year-long residency program for church planters, incorporating activities for them to do in right in their churches, as well as outside materials from Multiply Vineyard and the Vineyard Institute*. We’re sharing the grids with you right in this newsletter. For an overview of how they work and how you can use them, read on.

*If you’re not familiar with the Vineyard Institute, or VI, they are an excellent resource for pastors and church planters. They provide a virtual classroom for biblical, theological, and pastoral subjects, taught by some of the very best Vineyard leaders and theologians out there. VI has had 700 students this past quarter from around the world. It truly is the very best of the Vineyard, worldwide, and I strongly encourage you to check it out.

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