I just returned from a training event with Tom Nebel and Paul Johnson from Converge International. They shared that when their church planting movement began they had a 50 – 60% success rate (the determining factor being that the church still existed after 5 years). Then they began doing church planter assessments and their success rate rose to 70%. I will be observing at one of their Assessment Centers next month.
After that they began a system of coaching for all of their church planters and their success rate rose to 80%. (The training event I was attending is part of their coach training process.) This rate is above the national average which is good. But they were still troubled that one in five of their plants were still failing. They then developed a way of determining the risk potential for a planter including cultural, geographical financial and other related factors. Using this tool to help manage risk, their success rate is 85% or above.
They believe the other 15% or so is due to spiritual factors – how much prayer, listening to God, etc. went in to the launch.
I got another chance to hear a pastor casting vision tonight. I’ve been working with Parkview Baptist Church www.pbcnn.org on some “re-visioning” for the past several weeks. Pastor Rusty Beck did a great job of articulating the challenge they are facing trying to be a church that reaches higher, reaches deeper and reaches outward. They have a long hard road ahead, but they have the right man leading them.
It was very refreshing this morning to worship in a healthy, growing church with a visionary pastor http://www.templechurch.net/. Lynn Hardaway has been a very effective tool in God’s hand to turn this church around and get it moving in a great direction. What I was struck with this morning was the clear vision that Lynn was communicating to his congregation.
Most sermons I hear are directed at individuals (you need to get right, do this, believe that). A visionary pastor, on the other hand, communicates where “God is calling us.” His message is clear, understandable and challenging. It is corporate and personal.
A visionary pastor has won the trust of his people so much so that the vision has an authentic ring to it. It’s not rhetoric or hype. This doesn’t necessarily mean that his whole congregation will immediately jump on board. The vision will need to be cast and recast, and communicated in various ways. Slowly, as small victories are won and momentum is gained, the vision will come to be owned by more and more of the congregation.