The Church Planting Team recently transitioned to NAMB’s Multiply Training for our new church planters. After a lengthy pre-assessment process, we spend a weekend with the planters and their spouses before launching them into regional cohorts with a church planting strategist. They walk through 12 core competencies of a church planter.
Part of the core of this training is Will Manchini’s book "Church Unique." It helps the planters narrow their focus on what their church is uniquely positioned to contribute to the Kingdom of God.
Here are three benefits of discovering your congregation’s church unique:
1. Discovering your church unique allows your church to find its sweet spot.
When it comes to a church’s vision, mission, purpose, values, and programs, so much of the time it is copied and pasted from somewhere else. Another church across the country is having great success doing church this way, so we just adopt their model. We copy and paste their way of doing church into our church and our context.
In "Church Unique," Manchini encourages us to find our church’s individual Kingdom concept. He helps churches answer these three questions:
• What is our local predicament (problem)?
• What is the apostolic esprit of our leadership (passion)?
• What is the collective potential of our congregation (resources)?
Unless we are willing to do the hard work of walking through this process with our unique congregation in our unique ministry context, then we will be tempted to copy and paste. We may even be forced to copy and paste because we have to find a model for ministry from somewhere.
But when we labor to find our church unique and develop our Kingdom concept, the results are a local congregation strategically equipped to minister where God has placed them. Whether that be in the rural South of the United States or the center of a global city.
Don’t be a watered down version of another church. Find your sweet spot and allow God to use your unique church in your unique context.
2. Discovering your church unique allows your church to say no.
When our churches know who they are and who they aren’t, they can say no to what doesn’t fit their church unique. Saying no also allows our churches to say yes to the most important things.
Knowing our church’s unique place in the Kingdom gives us the clarity we need to focus on what is most important and what we are best at. It also frees us to say no to what we aren’t good at and what’s really not important to our congregation. Although we want to be a church for everyone, we know that we won’t reach everyone. Finding our church unique equips us to be the best version of us that we can be.
Discovering our church’s Kingdom concept helps us evaluate every program, activity, worship gathering, staff hire, and value that our church utilizes. If it doesn’t fit our church then we don’t do it. Maybe a church across town is doing great with reaching families through Awana, but does that mean your church should do it too? Not necessarily. It depends on your context and your individual congregation.
Again, doing the hard work of seeing how God has uniquely called us to impact his Kingdom allows us to say no to what hinders us and say yes to what empowers us.
3. Discovering your church unique allows your church to cooperate in forming fresh expressions of the church.
Think about the churches in your community. Think about what they are good at or even what they are known for. Are they good at reaching professionals? Equipping families? Developing college students? Sending missionaries? When we map out our community with the churches in it, we will begin to see a fuller picture of the Kingdom.
Every church has a sweet spot. Every church has a unique contribution to the work of God in our city. This fuels a spirit of cooperation among churches that are on the same team and working for the same purpose rather than individual congregations competing for the same group of people. It allows us to plant churches all over our city, even in places where other congregations already exist, because every church will bring a different flavor to their community.
The results of such thinking could have huge implications. For example, maybe the older congregation in town shouldn’t lament the fact that they don’t reach as many college students as they would like. Instead, what if they planted a collegiate-focused church near campus and supported the planter financially? The older congregation is best at supporting missions. They have for years. They have sent out countless missionaries to the field. So why should their own community be different? In finding our body’s church unique we make way for cooperation instead of competition and for new, fresh expressions of the church that are currently missing from our city.
This opens the floodgates for new churches in our city. New churches that bring fresh expressions of the Kingdom. New churches that partner with existing churches for greater impact. This is the power of finding your church unique.
So, what are you waiting for? What is your local predicament? What is your church passionate about? What resources do you have that no one else does? We must do the hard work of discovering our church unique. Not just for the sake of our own church but for the expansion of the Kingdom of God in our cities, states, country, and the world.