Church Planting Program

ekklesiaparadise: a planter’s manual and training program


One of my favorite concepts is “Kinder-Garten” a Germanic term coined to describe a sunny experience that would cultivate children like plants and let them bloom like flowers – a children’s garden. Here, we want to develop the idea of an “Ekklesiaparadise” from the Greek terms ekklesia meaning assembly [church] and paradeisos meaning garden. Church planting is an epic journey that cultivates pre-believers and the unchurched; and helps them to grow to become mature followers of Jesus; in essence, a church garden … and thus a planter’s manual and training program.

Every culture has a compelling narrative, an ideal sense and story of how things should be, an understanding that something is wrong with the picture, and a yearning for things to be made right. We struggle to find a cure, the solution that brings hope of redemption and restoration. The church planter is a man who has discovered the hope of Christ and passionately communicates that truth to change their world for good … for eternity. The purpose of this training manual is to provide theological and practical instruction to assist in the planting of more healthy churches that will transform communities through the compelling hope of Jesus. Together, we’ll consider the: who, what, why, and how of church planting.

Typically, it is best for a prospective planter to be mentored by a lead pastor who has been a church planter. Someone who has “been there and done that.” I hope that this manual will encourage lead pastors, prospective planters, and churches to fulfill our biblical commission to plant healthy biblical churches. There is a tremendous need for healthy church plants that are supported post-launch by mentors and genuine relationships. Shawn Lovejoy’s 2011 research reveals two of the biggest challenges: 80% of planters feel discouraged and disillusioned, and moral failure. Contributing factors to the problem include: unreasonable and unmet expectations, improper and inadequate training, and a lack of post-launch support to establish relationships and accountability.

Contributing factors to the solution include:

a meaningful assessment of calling – identifying among other factors authority issues, abundant emotional baggage, or a lack of accountability to a healthy home/mentor church;
healthy leaders who lead healthy plants are prepared through a comprehensive mentoring process;
only plant as many churches as you can effectively train and mentor, and encourage slower healthy growth;
establish and implement a meaningful relationship based post-launch support network for the planters and the wives of planters.
I have a friend who is a church planter and has served the Lord as a pastor for thirty years. He summed up his church planter philosophy as follows, “Either you’re called or your not. If you are God will bless it, and if your not it’s hopeless.” I replied, “In a certain sense I agree with you, however aren’t there times when you think, ‘If I knew then what I know now …’ Wouldn’t you like to pass along all those lessons to guide someone new to the trail along the way?” He agreed. So, this is my effort to pass along some of the lessons I’ve learned as a church planter ~ enjoy your journey!

If you are interested in the Calvary Nexus Church Planter Training Program, please download an application (here) and email it to: info@calvarynexus.org or return it to the church office.


1. reproduce: communities that love God and live His word [our mission], and be a place where multiple disciples are intentionally selected developed and sent to plant churches.

2. resource: encourage edify and empower church planters by training and providing resources.

3. relationship: establish churches that are associated theologically philosophically and relationally. We desire to associate within the larger calvary chapel movement while creating a close relationship with one another as calvary nexus churches.


1. missional: establish missional churches: implies taking the approach of a missionary – being indigenous to the culture, seeking to understand and learn, adapting methods to the mission field resulting in a biblical church in a local culture.

2. mentor: use a mentor model so that church planters are trained while serving in the context of a healthy local church so that lessons in this manual can be caught as well as taught. Jesus used a mentor model with His disciples, as was the typical rabbinical approach. He spent about a 1,000 days with them … some lessons you can never learn simply by reading books. So, we encourage at least a year of service in a local church, and a year to unpack this manual with a mentor [and perhaps other disciples].

3. ministry training: the training manual will be more effective if the planter has completed a school of ministry or bible college curriculum as a prerequisite to, or concurrent with, training as a church planter.

.: preface :.

Please remember that although the manual is intended to be a practical “how to” resource it cannot replace the work of the Holy Spirit and the priority of loving God and others [Matt.22:37-39]. Effective church planting is foremost the work of God’s Spirit and the byproduct of healthy relationships with God and others not a methodology.

how the training program works:

1. the materials are designed for mentor-disciple training: as an ideal, a lead pastor who has had experience as an effective church planter can train an individual or small group of potential church planters.

a. the mentor should know the material: the mentor should review the entire manual, including the appendix, and be prepared to discuss with potential planters. Plan to include your own anecdotal experiences to illustrate principles and fit the discussion to your context and culture.

2. duration: how long should it take to teach through the manual materials? Although you could read the materials relatively quickly, mentoring is a process. I recommend that you take a year to review the lessons. Even though you can accelerate the process to take less time avoid the temptation to minimize this training to less than six months … remember mentoring is a process that takes time.

a. frequency: meet on a weekly basis for about an hour with the potential church planter(s) and review a section or related sections consistent with the pace of your training schedule [e.g. six-month, a year, etc].

3. concurrent teacher training: our philosophy of ministry places a premium on Bible teaching. Therefore, any effective model of training church planters must include an intentional method of training Bible teachers and preachers. The appendix describes a model of weekly teacher training designed to take place concurrently with the planter training.

a. time: the training manual lessons and teacher development will likely require 2 to 2.5 hours per week.

4. concurrent service in a healthy local church: we encourage at least a year of service in a healthy local church prior to attempting to plant a church. The experience of part or full-time work interacting with other staff, volunteers, leading and caring for people, staff and leadership meetings, etc. is distinct from volunteering on weekends. Planters need to glean these experiences as part of the equipping process.

a. prior staff experience: a prospective planter who has years of effective service on staff in a healthy local church needs less training and experience than a novice, especially if the experience was gleaned at a healthy “calvary-type” church.

b. internship: the appendix contains an internship program description and application form that can be used to design a program of service in the context of the mentor’s local church. Keep in mind that it is wise to expose the planter to a variety of ministry leaders and experiences during the process.

5. projects to prepare for church planting: the appendix includes several exercises to be completed by potential planters and reviewed by their mentor. The mentor should review the exercises in the appendix prior to initiating training and schedule when they will be assigned in the process [e.g. every month, two months, etc]. The projects are practical and will also help the mentor to evaluate the likely effectiveness of the planter.

6. prerequisites: the training will be more effective if the planter has completed a school of ministry [som] or Bible college curriculum as a prerequisite to, or concurrent with, training as a church planter [calvary nexus has a fourteen module school of ministry curriculum designed for weekly training over a sixteen month course that is available to network churches]. It is best if potential planters have successfully completed a som or Bible college program prior to training as a church planter.

7. bibliography: leaders are learners, and generally in the context of successful church planting, leaders are readers. The appendix includes several books that were used as source material in preparing this manual and several books that are recommended reading. Obtain and read as many of the recommended books as possible – they will enrich you and your ministry.

8. gathering prospective planters: plan to communicate to the congregation, Bible College, and/or School of Ministry graduates, existing staff, and people you believe may be called to be church planters. Announce the vision for church planting and training about three to six months before the proposed start of training. Announce the vision frequently. You may want to include those who are considering going out with the planter as part of a core leadership team.

9. lifework: many of the sections contain a “lifework” assignment. These are discussion questions and/or work to be completed by a prospective planter and reviewed with their mentor to prepare for life – the Christian life and the life of a church planter.

10. a pastor’s perspective: stories are a great way to transmit truth. I’ve included some of my experience as a means of communicating a principle more effectively. Nevertheless, I’m sensitive to the fact that this manual will be used in many cultures, and my illustration or anecdote may not be effective in a particular setting. So, as a mentor, please be prepared to share your stories [and avoid sharing mine as appropriate].

If you are interested in the Calvary Nexus Church Planter Training Program, please download an application (here) and email it to: info@calvarynexus.org or return it to the church office.


A. who should plant nexus churches?

1. Christ-changed

2. Christ-called

3. Christ-like character

4. Christ-confident

5. Christ-capable

6. Christ-committed

B. what is a nexus church?

1. calvary chapel statement of faith:

2. the calvary chapel movement – a brief history:

3. the church belongs to Jesus so it is His ministry, church, and message:

4. the book of Acts as our model:

5. emphasis re teaching the Bible:

6. worship: music as an aspect & expression of praise & adoration:

7. ministry of the Holy Spirit & gifts:

8. church government:

9. attitude of grace:

10. systematic theology:

11. reaching the next generation:

12. mission of outreach and evangelism:

13. equipping for the work of ministry:

14.developing authentic relationships:

15. approach to giving:

16. global missions:

17. facilities:

18. community service/servant evangelism:

19. duration of ministry:

20. calvary nexus: the name & logo

21. membership:

22. communication of core values:

C. why plant nexus churches?

1. to fulfill the purpose of the church:

2. to fulfill the need for healthy churches:

3. to advance God’s kingdom:

4. to meet a need for a nexus church:

D. how to plant nexus churches?

1. foundation:

a. models of church planting:

b. when a group [“new work”] become a church:

c. prayer:

d. vision:

e. location:

f. establishing a team:

g. financing:

2. formation:

a. timing and responsibility:

b. gathering an initial core group:

c. the community group and preparing for birth:

3. initiation:

a. when to start:

b. where to start:

c. planning preview services:

d. launch day – the first service:

4. maturation:

a. clarify who you are trying to reach:

b. clarify what you do well:

c. create systems:

d. consider growth barriers:

E. nexus church planter training topics:

1. history:

2. making disciples:

3. developing leaders & staff:

4. mobilizing volunteers:

5. pastoral care and counseling:

6. believer’s baptism:

7. Lord’s Supper [Communion]:

8. hospital visits:

9. weddings:

10. funerals:

11. handling conflict, & criticism:

12. defining & refining success:

13. managing time & prioritizing family:

14. administration:

15. roles of elders, deacons, & leaders:

16. articles & by-laws:

17. finances and budgets:

18. boards:

19. enhancing relationships between network church leaders:

20. becoming a calvary chapel:

F. appendix:

1. teaching and preaching:

2. leadership lessons:

3. recognizing gifts and abilities:

4. projects to prepare for church planting:

5. ordination:

6. internship:

7. bibliography:

If you are interested in the Calvary Nexus Church Planter Training Program, please email your contact info to: info@calvarynexus.org so we can let you know the next time we will be offering Church Planter Training.

Church Planting Program

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