The Regional Church & Strategic Collaboration (4/6)

The Regional Church & Strategic Collaboration (4/6)

Church Planting Strategies & the Regional Church

So far, we have established the biblical basis of the regional church. We have also discussed strategic benefits that result when churches in a particular geographic area identify as the regional church, and collaborate for mission. At this point it is important to discuss some practical ways the regional church can engage in the work of church planting today. In my research the most helpful literature on this subject came from a book by Craig Ott and Gene Wilson called, Global Church Planting: Biblical Principles and Best Practices for Church Multiplication.[1] In the book the authors note five modern regional approaches to church planting partnerships. Four of them are relevant for the purposes of this discussion.

The Harvest Priority

First, there is the Harvest Priority. Explaining this approach, the authors write, “In the early years of Protestant pioneer mission work, missionaries often evangelized from village to village and then focused church-planting efforts on those locations where people were most receptive to the gospel.”[2] In this model, regional church congregations could combine personnel and resources for collaborative evangelistic and discipleship activities in a community, in which the Holy Spirit is manifesting spiritual revival and awakening.

The Strategic Beachhead Priority

Second, Ott and Wilson point to what they call, the Strategic Beachhead Priority. Describing this approach, they write,

The strategic beachhead approach seeks to establish a spiritual foothold in several political, commercial, or educational centers. From those influential cities, churches can be planted in outlying suburbs, towns, or villages. This reflects the apostle Paul’s focus on planting churches in centers such as Corinth and Ephesus, from which the gospel would emanate to the surrounding environs.[3]

Whereas it can be difficult for churches to have this kind of influence alone, groups of churches working together on a regional level may have more success. This is especially true in cross-cultural situations where numbers of Christians and churches are often much smaller than in North America, for example.

Cluster Church Planting

Third, the authors discuss what they call, Cluster Church Planting. Explaining this approach, they write,

The initial goal is to plant several churches in a more limited geographical area, such as a single major metropolitan region. Rather than church-planting teams being spread far and wide, they are clustered in one area. The strength of this approach is that the church planters and the emerging churches are in reasonable proximity to one another so that they can meet for mutual encouragement, have periodic common celebrations, offer joint training of workers, and assist one another in evangelistic and other efforts. If the movement is being driven by lay leaders, churches in the cluster can share lay preachers, further reducing the load on any one church.[4]

This is a beautiful and exciting portrait of the way churches can work together in a specific regional area for church planting. A sense of shared identity and commitment to mission collaboration as the regional church can make this kind of creative dynamic in church planting achievable.

Spreading the Vine Church Planting

Lastly, Ott and Wilson discuss what they call, Spreading Vine Church Planting. They explain this regional church planting approach this way:

Church-planting movements can also grow like strawberry plants or vines, by planting one church after another, from one town to the next, often following a major trade route or highway. Each church planted becomes the launching point for another daughter church in the next town or city down the road.[5]

This author sees value in this approach, especially if the target area is in a region with few or no existing evangelical churches.

The purpose of summarizing Ott and Wilson’s work above is to provide helpful examples of some modern creative approaches to regional church planting partnerships. Certainly, there are many other ways regional expressions of the church can engage in church planting. However, Ott and Wilson provide some of the most well-researched examples of effective regional church partnership strategies in church planting today.

[1] Ott, Craig; Wilson, Gene. Global Church Planting: Biblical Principles and Best Practices for Multiplication. Baker Academic, 2011.

[2] Ibid. PG 144.

[3] Ibid. PG 145.

[4] Ibid. PG 146.

[5] Ibid. PG 148.

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