City to City’s Urban Church Planter Incubator aims to produce competency in four basic ministry areas that were discovered through proprietary research conducted with successful urban church planters in North America (and bolstered by our research in 8 additional cultures1).
Each Incubator learning module involves time for peer-to-peer coaching, personal spiritual formation, application of ideas to real-world problems and hands-on training that combines both theology, church planting theory and insights from adult learning theory.
THE URBAN CHURCH PLANTER INCUBATOR:
Research has shown that an effective urban church planter must be proficient in 4 critical competency domains:
1. Living inter-connectedly with a gospel dynamic (Personal—Interpersonal domain)
2. Communicating grace and truth in a way that forms and engages disciples (Prophetic domain)
3. Creating a missional culture (Priestly domain)
4. Executing visionary leadership (Kingly domain)
The Incubator training curriculum is designed to help urban church planters develop toward becoming proficient in each of these 4 domains (as determined by research which discovered the 34 church planter competencies upon which we build our program). Each training module is aimed specifically at addressing one or more of the 34 church planter competencies. Before engaging in any training program, we encourage each church planter to be assessed. The assessment tool based off of our research is recommended and is found at https://churchleaderinventory.com.
The 16 modules of Incubator start with the basics and move toward increasing leadership complexity, following the typical life cycle of a new church.
THE INCUBATOR PROGRAM BEGINS WITH THE FOLLOWING ORIENTATION SEMINAR:
Orientation Seminar: what to expect
- Sharing our stories
- City to City Miami - Mission, Vision, & Values
- Why church planting? Why global cities?
- Our training values, what you can expect from these 2 years - Your call to urban church planting
- Debriefing the CLI (Church Leader Inventory)
MODULE 1: GOSPEL THEOLOGY: UNDERSTANDING THE GOSPEL
This module focuses on understanding how the work of Jesus Christ changes everything we are and do, as individuals, as a community, and as ministers of God’s grace, as opposed to “just trying harder” to apply biblical principles to my life. Though the gospel is the life- giving message of redemption that we always preach, as well as the dynamic that causes on-going redemption in our lives and communities, few pastors understand how to consistently apply it to their life and work.
- Exhibits a grasp of the gospel of grace as a ‘dynamic’ in life, not just having sins forgiven.
- Can articulate the broad scope of the gospel as it relates to life and ministry
- Able to describe the “two thieves of the gospel” and which he/she tends toward
- Can describe the difference between “the gospel” and a moralism or self-esteem approach to personal growth
- Grasps how the gospel affects the ‘what’, as well as the ‘how’ of doing ministry
- Has a strong sense of ‘call’ to church planting in the city (the focus of the application process and Orientation module (Module 0.)
MODULE 2: PERSONAL LIFE OF THE LEADER
Though we endeavor to care for the church planter’s personal life every time we meet, this module gives the topic special treatment. The effective leader knows how to do self- leadership and self-care before he or she leads others. This module focuses on the character of the leader as well as understanding your unique leadership style so you can manage yourself and others in order to more-effectively engage in the work of the kingdom of Christ.
- Exhibits a bias toward action, consistently executing evangelistic, cultural and ministry plans.
- Constantly assesses the environment, sees needs, learns from failure, and gets the new information, skill set, resource or personnel that the job requires. (Though ‘Learning agility’ cannot be trained into a person, we can encourage the development of some skills that help the planter to be a more agile learner)
- Knows the unique temptations of a leader and embodies a servant-model of leadership that encompasses the role of suffering, spiritual conflict, authority, humility and love in the leader’s life (Gospel-based leadership)
MODULE 3: CULTURE AND CONTEXTUALIZATION
This module focuses on understanding the unique globalized, urban context in which we live and how that understanding can help us communicate and develop ministry forms which are meaningful to the people we are reaching. Far from ‘capitulating’ to culture or ‘watering down’ the gospel, contextualization aims to make Christ alive and dynamic in the given situation where you are planting your church.
- Has a positive view of culture and is eager to engage, and train others to engage, with the ideas and people who form culture
- Can employ ethnographic research skills and data to discern the values and key understandings of a given people and to determine the needs which the ministry of the church should address
- Can contextualize ministry forms (preaching, spiritual formation programs) and approaches (POM, evangelism, mercy ministry) in such a way that Christ comes alive in that culture
- Given an issue, is able to ‘do theology’ in such a way that allows God’s word to speak to a specific culture
- Is growing personally as a ‘contextualizer’ of the gospel (being challenged by his own cultural bias/blindness and growing in love and understanding of his context, thus applying the gospel to it in new ways
MODULE 4: EVANGELISTIC NETWORKING
This module aims to help learners develop the skill of consistently and winsomely presenting Christ to others in a host of new situations, so that communicating Christ becomes an integral part of the culture of the new church. Emphasis is placed on developing “evangelistic pathways” and networks of relationships which boot off of a culture of hospitality in the new church as well as how to think about evangelistic events, process evangelism and the training of others in your church.
- Experiences increasing wonder in the all-sufficiency of the gospel for every need •Exhibits consistency, creativity and winsomeness in regular, personal evangelism •Knows how to ‘network’ evangelistically and use relational pathways
- Is able to engage the church in evangelistic endeavors (relationships, events, etc.) so that the church develops a missional culture
MODULE 5: MISSIONAL ECCLESIOLOGY
There is a lot of talk today about “being missional”. Practically, what does that mean for a new church? This module helps participants understand the unique characteristics of ministry in the global city and helps them develop a balanced, missional culture in their church so that the good news of Jesus is expressed in every element of church life and reaches out in holistic ministry.
- Has a theologically driven vision for the church and city. (Church Planting Movements and a redemptive/historical theology of the city)
- Develops a strategic model (Philosophy of ministry) of the church with ‘outward-faced’ and ‘balanced’ ministries
MODULE 6: GRACE RENEWAL - EXPERIENCING THE GOSPEL
It’s not enough just to understand the gospel; we need to be constantly experiencing the renewing work of Jesus Christ, making us new and sending us as people in his redemptive mission. This module helps participants experience gospel renewal through sharing, case studies, guided prayer and learning activities centered around the basic truths of our adoption and the reality of indwelling sin (idolatry).
- Continues to grow in personal transparency as well as gospel renewal in his own life
- Able to explain the role of idols and can identify his own tendency toward idolatry
- Practices a lifestyle of repentance and faith, growing confidence and joy in Christ
- Is able to lead others into a discovery of both their idolatry and what gospel repentance looks like
- Also: Understands how to use the CLI to develop personal learning motivation and objectives.
MODULE 7: DISCIPLESHIP - LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT
(Product due: Your Philosophy of Ministry)
Learners will develop skill in understanding how people change through the application of grace and truth (instead of the more common practice of religious moralism) as well as how to develop programs for spiritual formation and leadership development. They will jointly participate in actually developing one program of leader formation that they can use in their new church.
- Has a developmental approach to how people change (gospel and educational principles)
- Models a robust, holistic spirituality of gospel truth, deep, inclusive relationship and a bias toward ministry to others. He practices and leads in the disciplines of grace that promote corporate renewal
- Able to design ministry that spiritually ‘forms’ Christians in community as people in mission
- Understands how to deal with the unique hindrances (pathologies) to spiritual growth, renewal, engagement with others and in mission
- Is embracing the ways he has been wounded and how he tends to wound others, enabling him to work relationally in pastoral work (discipling, counseling, relating to leaders, making decisions, handling conflict, etc.)
- Is able to capitalize on these spiritual formation efforts in order to recruit, train, deploy and care for new leaders into new and existing ministries
MODULE 8: KINGDOM-CENTERED PRAYER
(Product due: your action plan)
The heart of the ministry of Christ’s kingdom is expressed in prayer. Since the Holy Spirit is the indispensible agent of any true ministry, the church is called to express it’s life, and do it’s work, through the agency of prayer. Through prayer the gospel renews us, we learn more deeply of God’s priorities and we receive new empowerment for what he is sending us to do. These kingdom concerns are reflected in the model prayer of Jesus. This module trains church planters in kingdom prayer by practicing it.
- Exhibits a passionate prayer life, both personally and corporately and trains others in kingdom prayer
- In his leadership, knows how to bring prayer to bear on strategic ministry initiatives •Can develop a workable Action plan that is realistic, comprehensive, and contextualized
MODULE 9: LEADING THE CHURCH WITH THE RIGHT PEOPLE
(Product due: Your Disciple-Leader Development Plan)
The effective church planter knows they cannot plant a church by themselves. Instead, they become leaders and pastors of gifted Christians who do the work of ministry. Thus it’s important for church planters to know how to assess people’s strengths and weaknesses and how to develop systems of relational training and oversight that guide people to their place of most effective ministry.
- Is able to read people, knowing their strengths, weaknesses, alignment to the vision, openness and loyalty.
- Is able to design and implement an effective leadership training program that shares the values (gospel-based, relational, transformational, etc.) and provides the church with the leaders that it needs
- Knows how to recruit the right people and direct them effectively so that they are growing in their personal lives and productive in ministry
MODULE 10: LEADING THE CHURCH THROUGH OTHERS
Effective church planters know the value of ministry teams—most of the work in a new church is accomplished through a “willing few”. This module addresses the specific skill set of recruiting, developing and directing teams that build the church and that reach out in service and evangelism.
- Effectively builds, leads systems which care for, develop, and deploy people in ministry teams and small groups; knows how to develop ‘organic’ or relational systems (cf. Alan Hirsch, The Forgotten Ways)
- Gathers and assimilates diverse people into the life of the church, making sure there are clear avenues for them to make significant contributions to the church
- Is adept at giving constructive, clear feedback and timely evaluation
MODULE 11: GOSPEL PREACHING - FINDING AND PROCLAIMING CHRIST (Part 1)
This hands-on preaching practicum aids participants in finding Christ in every text of Scripture and in developing the confidence that beholding Christ in the gospel is what transforms us. Participants analyze model sermons, as well as their own, and practice constructing gospel-based sermons that make Christ the resolution of the problems which affect our urban, and many times, skeptical listeners.
- Has a gospel understanding of the Scripture and can preach about many issues from many texts by showing Christ and not resorting to moralism, shaming, or passive antinomianism (theological content)
- •Is able to bring people face to face with Christ. In confronting, comforting, encouraging, or challenging, the gospel is always the dynamic in how people change (how people change)
- •Makes the gospel ‘fascinating’ with context-sensitive passion, argument, transparency, scholarship and application (sermon construction)
MODULE 12: GOSPEL PREACHING - APPLYING CHRIST TO THE HEART (Part 2)
This module is a hands-on practicum that helps learners develop the skill of “applying Christ” to listeners’ hearts and minds so that they change in a biblical way, instead of through resorting to moralistic or ‘feel-good’ applications of Scripture. Issues such as “growth in communication skills”, “finding your voice”, “how to study” and other practical matters of homiletics are addressed.
- Able to explain the difference between preaching from a moralistic paradigm and a biblical one
- Is able to bring people face to face with Christ. In confronting, comforting, encouraging, or challenging, the gospel is always the dynamic in how people change
- Makes the gospel ‘fascinating’ with context-sensitive passion, argument, transparency, scholarship and application (sermon construction)
- Is a competent, engaging communicator. You are easy to listen to and you engage with an audience (mechanics of speaking)
MODULE 13: LEADING THE CHURCH THROUGH DIFFICULTY
In this module, church planters practice how to understand the conflict and differences of perspective that so commonly disrupts the life of young congregations and how to bring truthful and powerful communication skills to the people they work with. Time is given to practicing how to have a gracious and wise “difficult conversation” with a person with whom you need to interact.
- Graciously engages in conflict resolution and church discipline without avoidance or blame shifting and teaches others to do the same
- Able to develop a culture of gracious conflict resolution in the church and community that trains people how to engage the pain and wrong in personal and community areas and bring shalom
MODULE 14: CORPORATE RENEWAL DYNAMICS
Every few years we recognize our need for renewal: physically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually. But we learn that we need more than personal renewal. Churches need renewal as well. This module equips participants in the continuous spiritual renewal of their congregation by understanding the theology and relational dynamics of renewal, as well as the practical ministry issues involved in effectively planning for and bringing renewal into the life of the congregation.
- Able to explain how the gospel fuels individual and corporate renewal
- Values living in honesty and transparency, makes choices that reveal his knowledge of his deep need for others in worship, personal change, ‘re-creative’ fun and effective ministry to the world
- Is able to develop and lead efforts/plans/programs that lead the church into renewal
MODULE 15: LEADING YOUR CHURCH TO THE NEXT LEVEL
This module helps learners focus on specific growth obstacles and opportunities in order for the church to mature to “the next level” of ministry fruitfulness. Attention is given to personalizing a plan as well as how to engage in strategic planning for sustaining ministry effectiveness.
- Recognizes and understands the causes of missional barriers in the church
- Knows how to develop strategies to grow strategic ministries and systems
- Has a healthy view of church growth (neither idolatrous nor passive) and is active in pursuing outward-directed and balanced ministries
MODULE 16: LEADERSHIP THROUGH THE ORGANIZATION
This module helps learners develop the skills and understanding needed to manage vision and purpose in a growing church so that it keeps focused on what it’s supposed to be and do and achieves long-term fruitfulness. Time is given to developing purpose and mission statements, facing long-term challenges as well as developing personalized strategies for leadership in the new church.
- Able to manage the vision and purpose of the church so that the church consistently engages with it’s call
- Maintains alignment of all programs and leaders to the vision. Leads through the vision •Develops ministries ‘in balance’: evangelism and worship, community formation, justice and mercy, and faith and work in such a way that the Kingdom impacts the city
- Casts vision in a way that invites many to participate. Practices the art of persuasion
FINAL CELEBRATION BANQUET: WHERE DO YOU GO FROM HERE?
This banquet gives church planters a venue to celebrate what God has done in the past 2 years in their churches, communities and personal lives. Too, it can provide an opportunity where they bring several key leaders who can also experience what God has been doing around the city. At the end of the evening, each church is encouraged to share what goals they have in participating in the wider work of the kingdom in their particular city through a church planting network.
- Celebrating where you are now and what God has done in and through your new church in these past two years
- Eliciting commitment for where you go from here: your next church plant, developing the movement, life-long learning, peer learning group
- Your specific role in the Global Cities movement (training, writing, mentoring, vision casting, resourcing others)