Wheaton College’s Billy Graham Center and Converge Introduce a Church Planting Residency Plan and Partnership

Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

Converge has planted over 752 churches over the past forty years. This past January, at their annual Unleash Conference, they committed to planting another 312 by 2025. And a pandemic and social and political unrest have only emboldened that goal.

Barna’s recent research would suggest that church attendance and connection have dropped sharply over the past five months making it difficult to predict the long-term impact of the pandemic. But what is known for certain is that the trends of attendance and continual societal shiftings are drawing a downward slope.

But we are not satisfied, nor will we give in to any feeling of inevitability with current predictions. And the most certain path forward is through intentional partnerships that bring together strengths for a stronger and faster approach.

A few years ago, Ed Stetzer (Executive Director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center) and Lee Stephenson (Executive Director of Church Planting for Converge) began dreaming and discussing an intentional partnership that would bring together the Wheaton College Graduate School’s strength of exceptional theological and leadership training and formation with Converge’s strength of an industry-leading process and pathway for long-term, gospel-centered, community-altering church plants. Operating on the shared values that healthy churches plant healthy churches and multiplicative leadership should be intrinsic with every church leader, a ministry residency was developed that highlights the practical aspects of how to confidently plant a strong, healthy church on the theological underpinning to “(g)o therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:19a).

The church needs new leaders. The church needs future leaders. And us current leaders have been charged by the head of the Church, Jesus Christ, to prepare the way for them to step forward.

There are three key aspects that Wheaton and Converge believe every church planting and ministry resident need:

  • A Champion. Someone who is on the ground with them. Someone who can be the emotional and spiritual supporter that the Resident needs to help them see the value and practice of every pastor needing a pastor.
  • Significant Leadership. Being put in a place of leadership that allows for the Resident to take the content and interpret and apply it in their context. As important, significant leadership allows for a Resident to appropriate fail and learn while also having the opportunities to succeed greater than anyone else on that church’s staff.
  • Training and learning. Receiving the opportunity to hear from the leading voices in church mission, leadership, planting, and movement. While highlighting the value of education, this partnership has intentionally held fast to the priority of application and future possibilities.

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Source: Christianity Today