A MODEL FOR CHURCH PLANTING IN THE
CHRISTIAN & MISSIONARY ALLIANCE
Rev. Peter Hay
This thesis arises out of fourteen years of pastoral experience and as a church planter. I entered into the Doctor of Ministry program with a desire to learn the reasons for the failings I observed in my own churches and the similar struggles I was hearing about from other church planters. There are those who argue that growth is not a measure of church health. This is easy to say when your church has 300 members, multiple ministries and is managing its budget. But when you have 50 members and must decide between paying your pastors salary and the rent on your facility, growth is critical. Thus this thesis is about growth in the context of planting new churches and the dynamics that will sustain growth in the ling term.
My journey to the proposal for this thesis began with the reading of a contemporary church planters book entitled The Purpose Driven Church by Rick Warren. Warren had succeeded dramatically as a church planter. However one contemporary success story was not compelling enough for me since so many have come and gone over the years as the latest fad. It was during the preparation of a paper on John Wesley that I began to note remarkable similarities between Wesley and Warren in both philosophy and methodology. A model began to take shape in my mind. I felt that if this model was a correct of possibly even the correct one that it would be confirmed by studying the book of Acts, the greatest church planting manual in the history of the Church. Thus this thesis begins with a historical study of the book of Acts with a view to discovering biblical church planting principles. A similar study follows on Wesley in chapter three and then Warren in chapter four. Our goal was to discover the presence of a model for church planting that is consistently applied in three distinct historical and cultural contexts.
With this model in mind we turned to the Canadian sociological climate in chapter five with a view to discovering if Canada was a receptive church planting context. We follow in chapter six with an analysis of the usefulness of the best available church planting manuals.
Chapter seven is a statistical analysis of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada from 1981 to 1995. Statistics on giving, missions, membership, professions of faith, Sunday School attendance, and mid-week ministries were gathered in order to calculate national averages and establish a baseline for comparison. The numbers for all churches that were planted during that time were compared with this baseline and then our model was used to discover whether growth patterns correlated.
Chapter eight presents the results of a survey given to C&MA pastors who had planted churches from 1981 to 1995. Our church planting model is incorporated into the survey with a view to discovering their attitudes towards it and if what they did as church planters reflects their commitment to it.
By combining the insights from chapters two through eight we are able to draw conclusions that sustain our proposal. I trust that those who read this will profit as much as I have and will surpass me as church planters.