Part one addressed how Storyline is changing in its approach to discipleship. Part two addressed how Storyline is changing structurally. This final post in this series addresses how Storyline is changing in regard to starting new churches and training church planters.
My calling into church planting is not to plant a single church. It’s to participate in a church planting movement.
That’s what attracted me to the leaders of Mission Alive, our church planting resource organization, whose dream is to facilitate church planting movements all over North America.
And that’s why reproduction has been programmed into the DNA of the Storyline Community. Reproduction is one way we practice mission: reproducing followers of Jesus; reproducing churches in our network; and reproducing communities that will live a similar missional existence in a different locale.
In the fall of 2010, Storyline got its first taste of starting new churches when we sent Micah and Amy Lewis to Wichita, Kansas, to start a new church in downtown Wichita. They were sent after an 18-month period of training with Storyline and are partnering with the RiverWalk Church in Wichita. Storyline continues to support them financially through the Mission Alive Harvest Fund and through monthly contributions. I also serve as a church planting coach for Micah.
One thing I learned through this experience: a church doesn’t have to have all of its ducks in a row to be a church planting church.
- A church planting church doesn’t have to be an established, mature congregation. (Storyline is not.)
- A church planting church doesn’t have to have a sizable annual budget with significant financial resources. (Storyline does not.)
- A church planting church doesn’t have to have all the training and equipping resources within itself. (Storyline does not.)
That’s the great thing about the kingdom: the power of partnership — the power of collaboration (another one of Storyline’s values).
In the kingdom, young churches like Storyline can partner together with established churches like RiverWalk in Wichita — which have significant financial resources among other things. Young churches can partner with resource organizations like Mission Alive — which has well-developed mechanisms for assessment, equipping and coaching for church planting.
Relatively new churches like Storyline bring something to the table, too: the experience of church planting. The feeling of the missional frontier. A test laboratory experience that has elements of risk but is safer and more stable than church planting from scratch. Pre-existing structures and methods for mission that stir the imagination and prepare future church planters for their calling.
Who says a single church has to do church planting on its own? Young churches, established churches, and resource organizations need each other. They need to work together for the sake of church planting. Each will likely miss something if they attempt to go at it on their own.
Storyline, as a young church, wants to play its role well in this kingdom endeavor. We want to play to our strengths.
As a result, Storyline will become a more significant training ground for future church planters. We want to see the story of Micah and Amy Lewis multiplied many times over.
We’re dreaming about helping to start five new churches in the next five years.
We’re issuing an open invitation to anyone sensing the call into missional church planting to have a conversation with us about training with Storyline.
Church Planting Residency Overview:
- Move to Dallas and spend 2-3 years with the Storyline Community
- Work bi-vocationally as a way of supporting your ministry and embedding in Dallas community
- Learn how to raise funds from churches and individuals to help support your training period and future church planting.
- Most church planters have to raise funds, after all, so why not get some practice with people who’ve had experience doing it themselves?
- Receive a small stipend of financial support from the Storyline Community
- Partner with a resource organization like Mission Alive who can provide assessment, equipping and ongoing support for your future church planting work
- Experience life in the Storyline Community as a participant for a season (probably somewhere in the neighborhood of six months)
- Learn to follow Jesus by living out Storyline’s missional lifestyle
- Be sent out to start a new church within the Storyline Community network through pursuing a specific missional vision for a particular neighborhood (geographically-based vision) or social network (relationally-based vision). What better way to learn how to start a church than to start a church before you start a church? Interested in ministry to the poor? The gay community? Chronically homeless? Refugees? Young families? Multiethnic? At-risk youth? Young single professionals? Dallas has opportunities for all these types of ministry and more, and Storyline will work with you whatever your passion.
- Participate in the Storyline leadership team and coaching groups for personal discipleship and leadership development
- Be trained as a ministry coach through Mission Alive and receive CoachNet certification
- Read and process significant books about the theology and practice of church planting
- Discern, prepare, and plan for your steps into future church planting.
Church Planter in Residence Profile:
- Personality: people person; visionary; self-starter; entrepreneurial
- Calling: senses God’s call into church planting
- Family: not required; but if you have one, must have full support of spouse for church planting ministry
- Aptitude: willing to be assessed by church planting organization like Mission Alive as part of the interview process with Storyline
- Ministry experience: must have at least 2-3 years experience serving and leading in churches either in volunteer or staff role; full-time ministry experience not required
- Skills/gifts: group facilitation; listening; gathering; speaking; teaching; equipping; shepherding; faith; missional living; apostolic (starter); leadership
- Education: most cases at least a Bachelor’s degree, though not necessarily in theological studies; ideally holds, pursuing, or willing to pursue a Master’s degree in theological education (e.g., Master of Christian Ministry or Master of Divinity)
- Theological orientation: must be a follower of Jesus; must have a commitment to historic Christianity as expressed in the Apostles’ Creed and Storyline’s telling of the story of God
- Denominational background: no particular background required
I’d love to bring in 2-3 families this fall to begin our work together. And I suspect that God may raise up longer term co-workers with Storyline out of those who come to train for church planting. All of that will have to be discerned along the way.
Are you interested, or know someone who might be? Contact us!
You can email me and let me know. At that point we’ll begin the interview process to discern if there’s a good fit for training with the Storyline Community.
Please pray for Storyline as we seek to continue to be used by God in the emerging church planting movement in North America.
Thoroughly, thoroughly, thoroughly appreciate what you are saying and doing at Storyline. I am at a traditional church in Houston, but know your focus on reaching out and growing disciples is the way of the present/future.
Thanks so much for your humility to be adaptive and open to the Spirit. I know it is both uncomfortable and wonderful!
Praise be to God for how He is working among you!