MentorNet #72
Copyright © 2010 by Galen Currah, Edward Aw and George Patterson.
Permission is granted to copy, translate, post and distribute freely.


This MentorNet article leans to the theoretical side. There is a growing interest amongst church-planting ministries and those who support them, to learn what ‘makes things tick.’ One useful analytical approach to understand organizations and programmes derives from system theory. Church-planting ministries can be viewed as a set of sub-systems that interact together, such that, when one sub-system functions poorly, it sends ripple effects through the other sub-systems. Mentors help church planters find weak points in a sub-system and set them right. You can formulate questions to ask about points and issues that these sub-systems imply in their interactions (see page 2). Here are ten such sub-systems. No wonder the task seems daunting!


   1.      Theological Sub-system (thinking God’s thoughts)

a.       How do workers adopt biblical promises, priorities and practices?

b.      How do workers express their Kingdom vision, mission and values?

c.       In what ways do workers plan by faith to implement their vision, mission and values?

   2.      Spiritual Sub-system (experiencing God’s reality)

a.       In what ways do workers practice spirituality, prayer and discernment?

b.      Describe how workers operate by gifts of the Spirit, in love.

c.       Cite instances of workers overcoming evil and opposition by faith.

   3.      Evangelical Sub-system (proclaiming God’s message)

a.       How clearly to workers communicate the original, apostolic Good News?

b.      How do workers discover and follow family, community and social networks?

c.       What help to workers require in order to design suitable messages and media?

   4.      Ecclesial Sub-system (reproducing God’s people)

a.       What highly-replicable forms, structures and activities have workers introduced?

b.      In what ways do worshipers experience the Presence of Jesus Christ in their midst?

c.       Cite examples of worshipers reproducing churches in their social networks?

   5.      Training Sub-system (forming God’s workers)

a.       What is the ratio of formal instruction to obedience-oriented mentoring?

b.      Describe how workers are incorporated into extended training chains.

c.       With what appropriate materials do mentors supply their apprentice leaders?

   6.      Leadership Sub-system (guiding God’s flocks)

a.       Describe how the five-fold ministers operate together in teams.

b.      What are the steps workers follow to appoint provisional, tested elders and deacons?

c.       Depend on gifting, growth, motivation and skills.

   7.      Discipleship Sub-system (rearing God’s children)

a.       In what ways do workers empower believers to obey Jesus’ commandments?

b.      What Christian doctrine, values, attitudes and behaviour do workers teach everywhere?

c.       What personal, family and group disciplines do new churches teach and practice?

   8.      Compassion Sub-system (honouring God’s image)

a.       What are the steps that workers take to enable local communities to meet their needs better?

b.      Cite examples of workers providing temporary relief and sustainable community development.

c.       What training and resources to workers have for reaching out to social groups at risk?

   9.      Financial Sub-system (supporting God’s work)

a.       Describe the ministry’s current worker support structures.

b.      How do workers empower self-supported leaders and churches for continual expansion?

c.       Describe current churches’ practices of giving to meet needs and to send evangelists.

10.      Monitoring and Evaluation Sub-system (tracking God’s blessing)

a.       Track and measure selected ‘indicators’ of outcomes from the work.

b.      Report and compile data from the field that inform leaders who make timely tactical choices.

c.       Compare outcomes with  faith goals, adjust strategies, adopt tactics, and train workers.


Tentative Sorting Scheme of 100 Systemic Issues that Arise in Reproductive Church Planting
from Ten Inter-acting Sub-systems

This table is intended to do several things: (a) to demonstrate the complexity of church multiplication work,
(b) to suggest facets of the work that may require more prayer or better planning, and
(c) to help identify points of weakness, dysfunction and breakdown in church-planting endeavours.














Theological priorities

Sound spirituality

Content of Good News

Who are the church

Doctrinal standards

Theology of finance

Leader roles described

Theology for disciples

Believers’ good works

Theology of evaluation


Spiritual outcomes

Priority of experience

Power in evangelism

Spirituality in churches

Experience standards

Cheerfulness in giving

Spirituality of leaders

Spirituality of disciples

Spiritual motives

Motives for monitoring


Salvation theology

Spirituality / evangelism

Outcome expectations

Evangelism in churches

Evangelism training

Financing evangelism

Work of evangelists

Evangelistic witness

Evangelism/ compassion

Evangelistic effectiveness


Truth for churches

Needs of churches

Evangelism for growth

Churches’ self-identity

On-the-job training


Local leaders


Church compassion

CP effectiveness


Training theologians

Training in spirituality

Training evangelists

Training for reproduction

Training trainers

Training in stewardship

Training church elders

How to make disciples

Training deacons

Training progress


Financing theologians

Self-support in ministry

Imitable methods

Financing  mission

Financing training

Financial accounts

Remunerate  elders

Disciples’ stewardship

Financing compassion

Cost of monitoring


Leaders as theologians

Leaders’ spirituality

Leaders’ evangelism

Leading new churches

Leaders train newer ones

Leader stewardship

Extending ‘chains’

Leading for discipleship

Compassion leadership

Managing monitoring


Priority of obedience

Obedience as spiritual life

Obedience in evangelism

Obedience in churches

Obedience in training

Obedience in finances

Obedient leaders

Obeying Jesus’ orders

Obedience in compassion

Responsible discipline


Compassion in theology

Compassion / spirituality

Compassion- ate gospel

Church compassion

Training for compassion

Giving for Compassion

Leaders’ compassion

Disciples’ compassion

Compassion that loves

Priority to meet needs


Tracking studies

Tracking obedience

Gospel progress

Counting churches

Verifying accounts

Counting generations

Counting disciples

Tracking projects

Monitoring reports

Monitor monitoring


See tested workshop manuals for training trainers: <>.

Order P. O’Connor, Reproducible Pastoral Training, from a bookshop or at <>.

Download free CP software, “Come, Let Us Disciple the Nations,” from <>.

Download free mentoring tools and materials for new leaders from <>.

Find the Train & Multiply® pastoral training course at <>.

Order G. Patterson’s Church Multiplication Guide from a bookshop or at <>.

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