SHIREMANSTOWN, Pa.—For 30 years, the School of Church Planting has been a welcomed church-planting boot camp for hundreds of ministry leaders. Every year its instructors offer Bible-based, transcultural, timeless, proven principles for launching new churches rather than presenting merely the latest church-planting fad or model.
Sponsored by Baptist Mid-Missions and its Team North America, the School of Church Planting is geared for missionaries, pastors desiring to lead their congregations to parent a daughter church, seasoned church planters, and those considering entering church-planting ministry. Participants in the last two years have come not only from the United States, but also from Peru, Chile, Uruguay, Ghana, Indonesia, and Canada.
“Church planting and growth are vital components of our Lord’s final command,” says Dr. Ken Davis. “According to many missiologists, intentional church planting is the best way to fulfill Christ’s last mandate and to reach those far from God in each generation.”
Prior to attending, students are encouraged to read The Y-B-H (Yes, But How?) Handbook of Church Planting, coauthored by Roger McNamara and Ken Davis. Then upon arriving to the event, each participant receives a church-planting resource manual, as well as a thumb drive loaded with practical resources for church planters.
The next four days include 27 hours of iron sharpening iron, through interactive classroom teaching and discussions among students. Davis, McNamara, and Dan Whitcher, all veteran church planters, share their wisdom and experience in starting and growing new churches. This intensive instruction is made possible because the host church graciously provides lunch and supper on site, enabling participants and presenters to invest quality time together in a peer learning environment.
Over the years, many Bible college and seminary students have attended, as well as recent graduates who are seeking God’s direction for their lives. Academic credit is available from Baptist Bible Seminary.
Recently the School of Church Planting developed a two-track teaching approach, with tracks alternating every other year. Track One, for those thinking about starting a church or in the early stages of planting, focuses on preparing for and launching a healthy new church. The instructors walk registrants through the first three stages of the church-planting life cycle (conception, prenatal development, and birthing a new church). Track Two, for church planters who are two or more years into a planting project, focuses on growing a young church plant and leading it to reproduce a daughter church.
This year’s event featured Track One. Track Two will be held next summer at Hamilton Hills Baptist Church, Fishers, Indiana.