In 2009, I (Chris Hankins) did a one year New Thing Leadership Residency at Lifepointe Church, a reproducing New Thing Church in Raleigh, before we planted The Point Church in September, 2010. NewThing is a catalyst for movements of reproducing churches around the world. My NewThing Leadership Residency was a crucial component in preparing me to plant a new church and even more importantly, it instilled a heart for reproducing into our church’s DNA. New Thing also provided me with key relationships with other churches who had already caught the vision for reproducing to be a “Church Planting Church” and were doing it more quickly than I had ever dreamed. I met multiple New Thing church pastors who were reproducing their second location after only two years and it showed us that rapid reproduction was not only a great dream but also possible!
It was through our residency and relationships within NewThing that God gave us the God sized vision to plant 30 Point Churches in the Triangle area of NC within our first 15 years. We shared this vision of reproducing with our launch team before we ever had our first worship service. The Point Church’s first experience in reproducing came when we were only 18 months old and sent out 50 of our core people as missionaries to the town of Apex, NC and we have never looked back. Currently we have planted or replanted 7 churches (5 English & 2 Spanish) in the last 6 years and we have leadership residents in place to plant 3 more in the next 18 months.
Also, from the beginning of The Point Church, we have been a part of a NewThing Network of churches. After a few years of being involved in this network, my Network Leader, Donnie Williams began apprenticing me as a Network Leader and in June 2015, I was invited to attend Network Leader Training with New Thing to start a brand-new network of reproducing churches in NC.
We began holding our first Network Meetings in the beginning of 2016 and at our last network meeting in November 2016 we had 13 pastors present and 5 churches who have officially joined our local network and committed to working together to reproduce churches across NC. Our local network is also currently supporting 3 new church plants that will all launch in the next 3 months through prayer, finances, coaching, and sending people. Finally, I have identified a leader from one of the other NewThing Churches to be my network leader apprentice and take over leading our existing network so that I can start a second network in 2017.
Below are 8 practical steps that I recently shared at Exponential Regional in Washington, DC (www.exponential.org) to help you to start and reproduce your own network of reproducing churches.
1. Be Connected – If you want to start a network of reproducing churches the best place to start is by getting connected. It was through being in a network of reproducing churches that I first caught the bug to start a network of reproducing churches. If you aren’t in a network, I suggest you get in a network. Go towww.newthing.org to find a network near you!
2. Be Apprenticed – If you are interested in leading a network of reproducing churches talk with your Network Leader about being apprenticing you to lead a new network. If you can’t
find a network to be apprenticed in, another option is to go through a LARN (leading a reproducing network) cohort. Leading a Reproducing Network (LARN) is a premier coaching opportunity for leaders of influence interested in starting and leading a reproducing network of churches. Find out more at http://www.newthing.org/leading-a-reproducing-network/
3. Be Launched – The next step is to take the plunge and start your own network. It might sound simple but New Thing gave me a title and permission. Having my former Network Leader coaching me and the training and approval of New Thing gave me the confidence to step out in faith to start something new.
4. Be a Dreamer – If you weren’t a little bit of a dreamer you probably wouldn’t be thinking about starting a new network of reproducing churches in the first place. However, one thing that I have found to be important is to have a clear dream to invite people to be a part of. For example, our network is a part of a movement of networks in North Carolina seeking to plant 100 churches in 10 years. People want to be a part of something bigger than themselves and pastors are not different!
5. Be Relational – During my Network Leader Training, New Thing Movement Leader, Dan Southerland (http://westsidefamilychurch.com/dansoutherland/) shared his decision to tithe his time to building their reproducing network in Kansas City and the difference it had made. Inspired by his example and with the blessing of our directional elders, I made the decision to spend 4 hours of my 40-hour work week investing in area pastors and helping them catch the dream of being a church planting church. Nothing has made a bigger difference in building our reproducing network than intentionally spending face to face time with area pastors each week. Also, don’t forget to devote yourself to prayer with the time you set aside. Pray weekly for the pastors you are building relationships with and the churches they lead!
6. Be a Doer – Most church planters are naturally high D leaders. They are driven and task oriented. Nothing drives me crazier than getting together in a group with no purpose and no task to accomplish. While having, a vision is important, it is also just as important to take some quick action to put flesh on the vision. For example, in our first year our network partnered with three new church planters with prayer, finances, people, and coaching. We were not able to give a lot of money or send a ton of people but it showed that were not all talk. By making the decision to reproduce quickly, we showed that our network was going to actually be about reproducing! Each month at our gathering we intentionally have a church planter share their vision for their new church so that we keep our reproducing focus clear and give churches plenty of opportunities to partner in reproducing.
7. Be a Trainer – The vision for our Carolina Movement is to plant 100 churches in our area in 10 years. A vision like this will be impossible unless we get a bunch of churches involved in reproducing. It would simply be impossible for me to be relational and invest in that many pastors, churches, and church planters. However, if we had 20 network leaders investing in 5 other reproducing church leaders then this goal would be easily achievable! Therefore, from the beginning of our network I have been praying for, identifying, and investing in a network leader apprentice. My goal is that within the next year he will go through Network Leader Training and be fully equipped to lead his own Newthing Reproducing Network.
8. Be a Releaser – Once your network leader apprentice is fully trained, it is time to fully bless and release them to lead their own reproducing network. In our situation, I will likely step aside and allow my apprentice to lead our current network so that I can in turn start a new network in a different area. Once your apprentice is released to lead a network it is important to continue to make sure they are being coached and invested in either by yourself or your movement leader.