Live blog 9: Missional Church Planting conference

Communications Staff — May 12, 2009

Speaker: J.D. Payne, associate professor of evangelism and church planting in the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism and director of the Church Planting Center at Southern Seminary.

Payne has served as a pastor of three churches in Kentucky and Indiana and has worked with five church planting teams. He is the author of ‘The Barnabas Factors: Eight Essential Practices of Church Planting Team Members.’

Session title: The Barnabas Factors: Eight Essential Practices of Church Planting Team Members

Payne said he would focus on a critical issue of church planting: developing church planting teams.

In developing church planting teams, you need to refrain from the air-love test. The air-love test is: if someone breathes in air and loves Jesus then they are automatically welcome on your church planting team.

How do you see team? Some people see themselves and the Holy Spirit as a great team.

‘There are too many lone rangers out there and that is not helpful. Sure, God has used many people who have planted churches by themselves. The Lord does work through that. But I think that throughout the New Testament, particularly with the apostle Paul, the believers there worked as a team.’

Definition of team: ‘A team is a small group of people [Payne suggests six to eight] working together on a common objective, dependent upon one another’s contribution, knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses, caring about each other’s grown and development and holing one another mutually accountable,’ from Walter C. Wright ‘Don’t Step on the Rope! Reflections on Leadership, Relationships and Teamwork.’

Five stumbling blocks on teams: Character problems, the mix of gifts in the group, authority issues, differences in vision and values and personality and/or cultural differences among the members themselves.

‘The Barnabas Factors are designed to help church planting teams overcome these five stumbling blocks.’

The eight Barnabas factors are found in the life of Barnabas and greatly assisted with Kingdom expansion. They are outward manifestations of an inward character. And they are identified as one lives in community with a person.

‘I am saying to local churches, ‘remember your responsibility when it comes to forming and sending church planting teams.’’

Intentional evangelism and raising up leaders are the two most important factors for people on church planting teams.

Payne walked through several passages in Acts and one in Galatians that detail the work of Barnabas.

The scale

For each of the eight Barnabas factors, Payne encourages church planting team leaders and churches to use a scale of 1-10 to rate a person. If a person scores low (8-24) they should not be placed on the team. If a person ranks from 32-56, 64-80.

The factors

1. Walks with the Lord

You want people who have a strong walk with the Lord and who will maintain their walk with the Lord while you plant a church.

Things to think about:

This person can give a clear and concise verbal testimony of a conversion experience. This person is lovable, trustworthy, wise, reliable and persevering.

‘You need people who are sold out to Jesus. They may not be in the limelight, but they need to be devoted to Jesus.’

2. Maintains an outstanding character

Difficult times will come: you want someone with outstanding character who will stand firm in any circumstance.

‘What are they like when the stage lights are turned off and they are behind closed doors? Are they humble or arrogant?’

Things to think about:

Does this person have a gentle spirit, good actions, good speech and trust God for provisions?

3. Serves in the local church

How can you trust people to serve in a church plant if they don’t have a reputation for serving in their church?

Things to think about:

Does the person reflect a positive attitude toward servant leadership; are they a long ranger for Jesus and do the leaders and other members of the person’s local church speak highly of them?

4. Remains faithful to the call

Barnabas was faithful to the Lord (Acts 11:24), to Paul’s team on the first missionary journey and to carrying out the Great Commission.

Things to think about:

Does the person give evidence of a call to a similar task at the church planting team?

5. Shares the Gospel regularly

This is a particularly important component of someone on a church planting team. Barnabas shared the Gospel with intentionality, boldness, tenacity and a tendency toward follow up.

‘Since evangelism is typically the first thing to depart from the schedule of church planters, it is essential to develop people on the church planting team who are intentionally about evangelism and prioritize evangelism.’

6. Raises up leaders

This is another particularly important component of someone on a church planting team.

Barnabas spent time with other significant leaders. Barnabas saw potential in other people.

‘No one was willing to give Paul the time of day. God worked through Barnabas to kick off the ministry of the apostle Paul.’

Barnabas was willing to take risks guided by wisdom (Example: Paul and Mark).

Things to think about:

The person’s philosophy of ministry should include the multiplication of disciples, leaders and churches. Would the person rather focus on a few potential leaders than spend the majority of his time with large numbers of people? Is the person eager to grow as a leader and does he see leadership potential in others?

7. Encourages with speech and actions

Barnabas means son of encouragement (and Barnabas’ name was changed to this). Barnabas was known for words of trust, exhortation and truth.

Things to think about:

This person is an encourager with words and actions. This person speaks words of truth, is not afraid to be vulnerable and his words reveal a consistent lifestyle.

8. Responds appropriately to conflict

‘Conflict is inevitable. It will come to your team. Just because conflict is present does not mean sin is present. Not all conflict is bad.’

Sometimes teams have to separate to promote the advance of the Kingdom of God (Example: Paul parting ways with Mark and Barnabas).

Everything must be done out of love, for the sake of the kingdom, done out of a spirit of humility and done with other people’s best interests in mind.

Things to think about:

The person understands that all teams experience conflict, he can clearly articulate biblical principles for how to handle team conflict and even when wronged the person responds with love.

On using these assessment factors:

‘The past is not always the best predictor of future behavior. But the past in most situations is the best predictor of future behavior.’

What about a person you haven’t walked through life with, particularly in your local church? Ask someone from the person’s local church who knows them well about the person and how they stand up in these eight areas.

Are you ready to become a pastor, counselor, or church leader who is Trusted for Truth?

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