Church Planting Networks: Partnership with GCCBy Marty Duren
March 23, 2021
Great Commission Collective is a network of churches in partnership for church planting. GCC does not plant churches alone; we partner with church elder-teams to help lead their churches to plant churches. GCC’s focus is on creating and supporting healthy elder-teams (including the senior pastor) who are equipped to lead their church to plant multiplying churches. We also work with church planters, helping them through the planting process including, when needed, a residency with a GCC church.
Church planting does not happen in a vacuum; few if any churches have ever become prolific at church planting by accident. There are strategies to consider, church planting models to evaluate, cultures that propel church planting, and sources of funding that should be weighed. Churches need to be ready to plant.
And what about the church planter? Should simply anyone plant a church? No. Potential church-planters should be mature disciples of Christ who meet scriptural pastor/elder qualifications (since they will be pastoring a flock) combined with an entrepreneurial spirit. They should be familiar with books church planters should read. In addition to biblical qualifications, potential church-planters should be eager to be assessed by a network to determine their readiness, decide on whether full-time or bi-vocational (or co-vocational), and given practical counsel on raising funds for the church plant. GCC’s Church Planter Profile provides a starting point for the process.
Answering questions about church planting with GCC is why we published Is the GCC Right for You? We know that all church-planting networks are not the same, that determining the best fit up-front is crucial.
The strength of a network like GCC is how we serve churches and the planters they send. GCC works to accomplish successful partnerships through maintaining a healthy culture, along with offering five core services: training, resources, assessment, connection, and care. Combined with those seven cultural values, we seek to plant GCC churches that exhibit six key attributes that we believe propel church planting and fulfillment of the Great Commission.
As Dave Harvey writes in A Vision for Church Planting Networks,
We are hard-wired for connection.
Local churches are no different. Just as people wither and perish in isolation, so does the local church. Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, thanks God for them: “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (Phil. 1:3–4). Though the church in Philippi had their own elders, deacons, and members, they were also vitally connected with an entity outside of their community—Paul and his helpers. The Philippians were a strong, established church, but they were not an independent church. The result of this arrangement was not a bloated bureaucracy, but a relationally connected partnership of joy (v. 3).
Great Commission Collective understands that in partnership we serve local churches; we don’t control them.
Utilizing our Partnership Plan, GCC serves to help churches develop four key areas of multiplication: discipleship pathway, leadership pipeline, planter preparation, and church planting. In the GCC partnership, each church retains autonomy to develop the areas that best fit their context, with the network providing support via training, resources, assessments, connection, and/or care, appropriate to each step.
If you are a church planter, check out our church planter page to see how things work with GCC. If you’re the pastor of an existing church looking for a partner network, check out GCC’s established church page to explore the partnership process.