Church planting is a process that results in a new Christian church or parish in a new and untouched locality. Different from church development that includes the introduction of a new service, worship center, or expression that is integrated in to an already-established congregation, church planting is a concept that starts from the ground up. For a new local church to be considered "planted," it must eventually have a separate life of its own and be able to function without the support of its parent body, even if it continues to stay in some sort of relationship either denominationally or through being part of a larger framework of churches.
In viewing church planting in terms of the Hispanic context with a direct connection to leadership and the successful development of a new church and congregation, one must first understand the basic models of church planting, which provide the structural framework for such leadership to stand upon. In doing so, the basis for the development and long-term success of individualized Hispanic leadership within the context of a new church can be viewed as guideposts within the Christian community and more specifically within the context of Hispanic Christian cultural identity.
The Church Planting Movement and Advocacy
The Church Planting Movement is a rapid multiplication of indigenous churches planting churches that sweeps through a people group or population segment.
Essentially, the process aims at rapid reproduction of churches within a specific area, or in the case of this paper, the Hispanic population. In accordance with the goal of newly-planted churches quickly planting their own churches to follow in the footsteps of the goal at hand, these entities begin the process of branching out almost immediately upon the inception of that respective church's existence.
Further, a main goal of the Church Planting Movement is the focus on the indigenous people for which the church itself is established. Indigenous itself as a word means generated from within, as opposed to started by outsiders. It is this fact that gives a particular unity to the congregation that is established within such churches. As these churches are created from the ground up with the hard work and perseverance of the people within a specific geographical and cultural area, the church itself is embedded with a certain cultural aspect that would not be present had a group of outsiders come into an area, built a church, established a plan of action for its operation, and placed within it a group of its chosen employees.
Whereas these aforementioned churches are basically "dropped" into an area in hopes that the native people of these areas will take to them, a planted church utilizes the individuals within a specific area to plant itself into the foundation of the people as a real plant would utilize the resources around it to nourish its own growth. Consequently, newcomers to the church, shortly after its development and its workings, will be unlikely to notice the work of any presence foreign to the area in which the church was established. As such, advocacy for the church growth movement has grown significantly in recent years. As one example, leading church growth writer, C. Peter Wagner says that Church Planting is the most effective evangelistic strategy under heaven, and for its advocates this remains church planting's greatest rationale.
Additionally, recent practitioners have developed theologies of church, place and community to answer criticism of early models.
The Parachute Drop Model
In understanding the parachute drop model of church planting, one must first understand the players involved in the process. In this situation, those players are a church planter and his or her family or affiliates. In this situation, the church planter moves into an area and completely starts from scratch. Having little to no connection with or existing support within the new area, the church planter and family are viewed as pioneers in terms of the territory they must conquer in order to succeed. In this case, there is great risk and a minimal success rate. While advocates of this method note the flexibility that comes with this model in terms of being able to reach otherwise untouched areas, the disadvantages are many. Such disadvantages include the significant toil and effort required for a planter and family to integrate into a new community without knowledge of the area or the people at hand, and often lacking financial and personal support.
The term "parachute model" itself springs from the WWI metaphor of a soldier being dropped by parachute into a targeted mission field of combat, ultimately landing alone.
This situation can be viewed as entirely similar to that of the church planter, who is dropped into an area with little support but his or herself. Sometimes referred to as "Conference or District sponsored, the parachute model is used in a circumstance where the following criteria is found, as stated by the Center for New Church Development and Congregational Transformation in Austin, Texas:
"The parachute model is used when a particularly gifted entrepreneurial planter has an affinity
with, and passion for a specific mission field and his/her skill sett and approach to planting may not require a mother church, and when there is not an established, healthy Christian Church in the target area."
The parachute model has a long history within the church and at times has proven exceedingly viable. While the world of today poses a far more secular era, often referred to as a "post-Christian era," it is increasingly more difficult to plant a successful church than it was in the 50s and 60s when the practice became widely popularized. Consequently, the parachute approach to church planting is used far more sparingly as it has proven less successful than other models.
The Partnership Network Model
The partnership network model encompasses a growing trend in which one or many organizations commits to working together to plant churches, forming informal alliances in the process. Such collaborative networks often share common beliefs along with a passion for starting new churches. Planters often get many of the benefits of the "sponsoring church" model but with increased autonomy in decision-making. As such, this pattern has the capacity to cross denominational boundaries.
One such example of successful collaborative church planting is the work done by the Association of Related Churches (ARC). ARC is one of several networks that help church planters launch new churches, while providing coaching, training, and financial assistance to those who qualify through the passing of a strict assessment. When a church planting candidate meets the following criterion, he or she may launch with ARC:
"An individual must have the capacity to find a sponsoring church, raise at least $30,000
through fund-raising, recruit a launch team of at least 35 capable and willing adults, and acquire a lease on an appropriate venue."
The Mother/Daughter Model
In contrast, the mother/daughter model of church planting is a model in which an existing church or church planting organization -- referred to as the mother -- provides the initial leadership and resources, including financial backing and personnel, to get a new church -- referred to as the daughter -- up and running. Such a model includes the selection of the church planter, who is often chosen from within the organization as such an individual already possesses the knowledge and complacency with the vision for the church at hand.
This capacity to move forward with the planting of a new church with the full agreement of the vision, values and beliefs of the sponsoring "mother" organization allows the new church the ability to establish itself fairly quickly. Author and pastor Frank Viola notes that while the new church is autonomous, the sponsoring organization often plays a significant role and holds significant influence in the new church -- often including decision-making during the pre-launch phase -- and brings with it the advantage of increased financial resources and the ability to draw core team and launch members from the previously-existing sponsoring organization.
The Multi-Site Model
With the multi-site church planting model, an existing church opens new locations, which is exceedingly attractive to larger churches looking to branch out into untapped areas. The motives behind the multi-site model of church planting vary from reaching more non-Christians to making more room than can be provided at an existing location. The evolving multi-site model has proved important in recent years by creating an entrepreneurial spirit of multiplication within existing churches. Where multi-site multiplication results in multiple leadership teams and replication of all aspects of church, then this method is a relevant form of church planting. Where the new expression is integrated into the current organizational unit, then no church planting has occurred but merely an extension of work of an existing congregation. Further, author Bob Logan notes that in the multi-site model, chemistry between the planter and the senior pastor appointed to the area in critical, as the senior pastor should be an active participant in the selection of the planter.…