iPLANT: Team of experts helps new church planters
Classis Illiana–Florida has formalized how it supports new church plants. The Church Multiplication Team, or CMT, is tasked with planting Great Commission churches in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Florida, and they’re using iPLANT to help planters draw communities of people together.
Aaron Klein moved to Lakewood, Florida, with his family to plant Current Community Church, an endeavor he calls an “amazing adventure.” Charlie Barclay, who planted Cornerstone Church—Manteno, says, “We have had the privilege of watching people come to faith in Christ, grow in that relationship, and begin to serve and share with others.” Another planter is Ann Bilbrew, who established Living Springs Riverdale Ministry Center, which is guided by the mission to “be an active and compassionate voice in the Riverdale community...to empower, embrace, and encourage Riverdale and local surrounding communities through worship, Christian education, relationship development, and the sharing of resources for the growth of God’s kingdom.”
iPLANT’s team approach supports the church planting efforts. Directed by Bob Grysen, the team consists of paid experts in church planting who work with church planters in the field. The approach is built on a business model and recruits, hires, trains, field-leads, and field-coaches church planters. The classis aims to plant 40 churches between 2010 and 2020.
In addition to Grysen, the team includes Suzy Brown, who assists church planters with a plethora of practical information, such as how to apply for a tax ID, grants, or 501(c)(3) status. She is also responsible for managing and multiplying financial resources and coordinating administrative operations. Lance Hurley and Ben Ingebretsen are field leaders and coaches who assist planters in strategy, finances, and problem-solving. Dave Weemhof is the liaison between iPLANT and the campus church plants of Faith Church in Dyer, Indiana. The church planters themselves are selected, trained employees of iPLANT until their churches become chartered under the RCA.
The first five years are crucial in any new church plant. It’s a high-risk venture, especially in an area that does not have a strong RCA presence—new plants in those settings have only a 30 to 40 percent success rate. The iPLANT team provides a system for accountability, resourcing, and sustaining church plants of every size. A sustainability model is established for each plant after the first year in the field; it’s based on the “birth weight” (average worship attendance at the end of the first year) and a growth rate of 5 percent for years two to five. The goal is to progress to a church that is able to thrive on its own. As the church plant grows, it must reach minimal benchmarks, and these are monitored on a monthly basis by the iPLANT team.
Growth benchmarks measure the progress of increasing the congregation’s size. Financial growth benchmarks measure the progress of the financial giving of the congregation. Finally, through ongoing coaching, resourcing, and assessing, the iPLANT team continually measures spiritual growth benchmarks in worship, fellowship, discipleship, service, outreach, and leadership development.