New research, partially funded by CTE, has been launched by an informal group called the National Church Planting Network (NCPN). The research draws on voices from both within CTE’s membership and from a wider sphere of independent churches and other networks.
It was conducted to ascertain how the NCPN might be more strategic in encouraging and mobilising churches to work in closer cooperation with each other in the future.
The research, conducted by Caroline Millar and Laura Treneer from Chalk lab, synthesised answers from nineteen interviews and drew out themes and areas for further reflection around how the churches thought about the following:
- Plans: strategy, history, metrics
- Process: models and definition of church
- Pounds: self-funding and scale of initial investment
- Place: geographical focus/mapping
- People: demographic groups, identifying and training leaders
- Partnership: local research, ecumenical perspectives
The insights into how churches think about their church planting strategy and the way they deploy resources both human and financial is helpful ecumenically. Whilst the idea of planting churches together ecumenically was not a strong outcome of the research there is increasingly mutuality and recognition that encouraging each other in the work was vital.
The research reveals the different type of language that denominations and networks use to describe their planting activity and suggests very helpfully that “It is subtleties in language which leads conversation around new churches towards either collaboration or suspicion. Therefore, there is a need to clearly identify the vocabulary in this area which is contested (i.e. used with different meanings and implications by different groups); vocabulary which is used to communicate ‘tribal’ identity; and vocabulary where we can all agree and meet.”
The report also maps out a journey of collaboration from “practitioner to co-missioner” which may be useful for churches at local to discern their level of growing trust in working together.
For more information on the National Church Planting Network and other research around mission and evangelism please contact Rev Dr Ben Aldous our Principal Officer for Mission and Evangelism.