The Value of SCP

It is tough. It is grueling. It is demanding with 12-hour a day classes, but if you are a missionary or church planter (or preparing for such ministry) these three and half days could transform your life and service for the Lord. People come from across the country and around the world. Pastors, missionaries, church planters, college professors, students and laymen have come from thirty-seven countries to attend Baptist Mid-Missions School of Church Planting (SCP) .

The SCP was first launched to retool missionaries who wanted to plant churches in North America after transitioning back to the United States from their foreign fields of service. Sadly, too many would-be planters crashed and burned because they didn’t have the skills needed to plant churches state side. Today, it serves a much wider clientele; it is geared toward overseas missionaries, U.S. church planters, and pastors strengthening and revitalizing existing churches.

Here are eight reasons why you should consider attending this summer’s SCP scheduled to be held in Sterling Heights, Michigan on June 7-10.

Church Planting on a foreign field or here at home is a highly specialized ministry. Church planting is not for everyone. A common mistake is to assume that planting a new church is just a miniature version of pastoring a local church. While there are similarities, there are marked differences as well. When a man is called to be a pastor he usually has a congregation, trained leaders and workers, an established congregation, available finances, and a building. The church is often well-known in the community and is viewed in a positive light.

A missionary or church planter has none of that. He is starting from scratch. He must secure support, develop the foundational documents, set up the financial structures, locate a meeting place, develop a core group, train leaders, and build a team on his own. The pastoral ministry often focuses on edification (to those inside the church) while church planting focuses more on evangelism (to those outside the church) and discipleship. The programming, the approach, the preaching and the focus in church planting is somewhat different from that which takes place in established churches. We’re not saying one is right and the other is wrong. Only that they are different. They each take different skills.

Attending the SCP will equip you with many of those specialized skills needed to plant a church. You’ll consider what other cultures value and how they think so that you’ll be effective in communicating the gospel. You’ll consider new ideas and methodologies from a biblical perspective and develop a greater understanding of what is involved in starting a new church or strengthening an existing one.

Attending the SCP will greatly increase your chances of success. No one plans to fail when they start a new church. Yet, research by missiologists document that one in three church plants do not survive till the fourth year. Many of those that do survive are small and struggling, unable to have much of an impact upon their communities.

It doesn’t have to be that way. We can do better. A trained programmer is going to do a better job than someone who has no idea what he is doing. Doctors, lawyers, airplane pilots, plumbers, teachers and taxi drivers all receive specialized training to enable them to do their jobs well. So, why commission men to plant churches without providing them with the training and the skills they need to do the job well? Attending the SCP will walk you through the five stages of the church-planting life cycle. It will expose you to the myriad things that need to be done during the conception, prenatal and birth phases leading up to “going public.” It will teach you how to distinguish between purpose, mission, vision and strategy, how to build a core group and a launch team, how to write a church constitution, and much, much more.

You’ll be exposed to a wide variety of methodologies. There is more than one way to plant a church. Some are more effective than others. Some work better in one culture than in another. Apart from biblical doctrine and a biblical philosophy of ministry, no two faithful church plants are exactly alike. What works in one community or with one culture may not be effective elsewhere. The SCP seeks to equip you with a variety of “tools” in your toolbox so that regardless of who you are or where you plant a church, you will have the “tools” you need to do it successfully.

The SCP has knowledgeable and experienced teachers. The presenters possess a wide range of ministry experience. They have faithfully served overseas and/or in the U.S. Some have worked cross-culturally and started churches that are multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-cultural. Others were used by the Lord to reinvigorate and in some cases reestablish a struggling church. Together these men possess over 100 years of church planting/strengthening experience.

You’ll rub shoulders with missionaries & church planters from all over. “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Prov. 27:17). Tremendous interaction takes place between those attending the SCP during break and meal times. Presenters and students sit down and share ministry experiences—their successes and failures. Each has a great deal to offer and to learn. Talking, sharing, debating the pros and cons of a particular methodology helps one consider which approaches will work best in his community. Friendships are formed. Mentoring relationships are established. It is a great opportunity to grow and expand your ministry horizons.

The SCP will help you evaluate if you have what it takes to be a missionary or church planter. Not everyone is cut out to be a church planter or to be the lead planter. Many would-be church planters are better equipped to be pastors than planters. They may struggle for years trying to get the church up and running because they are plugged into the wrong type of ministry. While the SCP is not an assessment center, it will give you a very good idea of what is involved in church planting. You can then evaluate whether you have the skills, the gumption, and the passion required to plant churches in the U.S. or overseas. Perhaps you would be better suited to be a member of a church planting team rather than a leader. God designs men for different ministries. Attending a basic “boot camp” like the SCP can help you determine whether church planting is really what God wants you to do.

You may be able to earn college credit for attending the SCP. Working on a degree? You may be able to get 2-3 credit hours from several colleges and universities for attending the SCP. Usually, this will involve additional reading and/or writing assignments plus whatever the college or university charges for each credit hour.

It is affordable. In today’s economy, a couple hundred dollars doesn’t go far. The SCP is a great bargain when compared with the cost of a single seminary course. Not only do you get twenty-seven hours of teaching, but the cost also includes meals, notebooks, thumb drives and in some cases free housing with a church family if you desire it. The minuscule cost goes primarily toward notebook printing, advertisement, and travel expenses.

So, what are you waiting for? If God has called you to plant or revitalize a church, then he has called you to get the best training possible so you can do the best job possible. We will see you in June in Sterling Heights, Michigan!