Church Planting: a journey to get to know the Father

I had a dream after visiting St. Francis’ tomb in Assisi in October 2005. In my dream a young church planter (apostle) approached me and asked me to train him. For some reason I knew that this was the second time that the young apostle had approached me (I did not recognize him–so I took it as a general application after I woke up.). He pressed me to coach him about how to plant churches. It occurred to me that he was only interested in the outcome of the training itself–planting churches.

I said to him: “I don’t think you understand the nature of church planting. You are looking at church planting as a task to do. Your heavenly Father is looking at it as a journey of getting to know Him. God really does not need us as much as we think He does. But he gives us tasks to do that are the avenues and vehicles for getting to know Him. For those of us who are church planters, the avenue to getting to know Him is planting churches. So we should view our task as the path to getting to know Him.

“Now here is the key–we never get to know Him through success. We get to know Him through humility–not success. I have had a lot of success in church planting, but no success has led to me getting to know Him better. The way to know God is through failure. I have rejoiced in my successes, but I have not been led to a deeper walk with Him or greater reliance on Him through success. But in failure I have agonized over my own contribution to the failure and been led to deeper repentance and faith. I have been led deeper into dependence in relationship with Him whereby I grasp new aspects to His glory as I have been driven to His throne through failure. It is in failure that we come to know more deeply our Heavenly Dad.

“I perceive that when you are approaching me to train you, you are doing so because you desire to be successful, not because you want to get to know your Father more deeply. If you want me to train you to get to know the Father I would be happy to—and if the journey through which He has called you is one of an apostle, I think I can be of some service. But realize that it would not be to avoid failure. Indeed my training may lead you into greater failure than you think. But it would also lead you into a deeper relationship with your Father and His son, Jesus. So if you desire for me to train you into a deeper relationship with the Lord (though the vehicle of church planting), I would be glad to. But if you only desire to be trained in church planting in order to be successful, then I will not do this.”

My dream ended with him walking away. I woke up with a profound sadness over him. I felt like Jesus must have when the rich, young ruler turned away. But I woke up feeling like the dream was spot on and that this was indeed what the Lord was calling me to—to train a new generation of apostles in getting to know Him.

(From Building Effective Apostolic Communities, by Dick Scoggins.)

Sponsors: A Crucial Support System (Part 2)

Sponsors (1)

By Dick Scoggins

Dave was the senior pastor of the first church I attended and he sponsored me to be the college and career leader among Brown University students. After 4 years, the church asked me to leave my teaching position so I could devote myself to starting a new church. Dave had actively sponsored and supported me through the maze of church politics until I was appointed as an elder and ultimately sent out to start their sister church. Continue reading “Sponsors: A Crucial Support System (Part 2)”

Sponsors: A Crucial Support System (Part 1)


By Dick Scoggins

Looking back at my life, I can see that I would never have been able to get to the place in ministry to which God has mercifully brought me without the help of my faithful sponsors. These sponsors have acted as spiritual mentors and dear friends who have showed me what it means to follow Jesus through each phase of the journey. They have poured their lives into mine, training me and partnering with me in ministry.  They have opened up opportunities for me to minister and have sacrificially given of their finances and their time for my benefit.  The fruit of my ministry is truly the result of these devoted friends who have deeply invested into my life.

Continue reading “Sponsors: A Crucial Support System (Part 1)”

The Guild: Learning by Doing (Part 2)

(To read Part 1 of this discussion, you can visit our Previous Post.)

The Real Test

I recall an experience with a young man who came to us for an 18-month house church planting training in Rhode Island more than two decades ago. He had graduated from seminary and had an interest in working among Muslims.books-002 After talking with a few local Muslims, he was shocked to find out that they did not trust the Bible because it had been corrupted over the years, as evidenced by all the different translations. He came to us that night quite confused about how to respond. I asked him if any of his seminary courses taught about the history of canonizing the Bible.  You could see his eyes begin to light up as he began retrieving book material from years of education, but he didn’t know how to distill it into a concise explanation. Sadly, this young man had lots of head knowledge, but he didn’t know how to apply the information practically, much less explain it to someone else. Continue reading “The Guild: Learning by Doing (Part 2)”

The Guild: Learning by Doing (part 1)

By Dick Scoggins

Our Early Years

Over 25 years ago, Jim Frost and I began a training program to equip a new generation of innovative church planters (whom I like to call apostles). Neither Jim nor I had attended Bible school or seminary, having both come to faith in mature adulthood.  Rather, we learned about Jesus and His Kingdom by reading the Word and trying to follow Him while being coached by more experienced “followers of the Way.” Continue reading “The Guild: Learning by Doing (part 1)”

Learning Environments for Apostolic Apprentices [Part 4]

This is the fourth and final part of our series Learning Environments for Apostolic Apprentices. At the end of this post there is a link to download the entire paper containing all four parts.

3. Living within the context of the germinating new community

The third environment we have found important is for the apostle to live in the context of the community in which they are trying to be incarnational.  The apostle Paul talks about “becoming all things to all men that by all means he might reach some”. This involved him leaving his beloved Jewish community (a Pharisee community at that) and actually learning to live as a Gentile culturally. Sometimes it is difficult to know where culture ends and Kingdom morality begins.  The only way to find out is to get immersed in the context of the community with the help of older apostles who have struggled through similar issues. Often this is quite an emotional journey, as it must have been for Peter visiting Cornelius’ house in Acts 10. Continue reading “Learning Environments for Apostolic Apprentices [Part 4]”

Learning Environments for Apostolic Apprentices [part 3]

This is Part 3 in our series Learning Environments for Apostolic Apprentices.

Three Important Environments for Apostolic Apprentices

As we have trained apostolic apprentices over the years, we have seen three invaluable environments where learning must occur. In our apprentice training we try to give each apprentice substantial time in any of these environments that they have not experienced previously. We realize that they will learn much more than we can teach by being immersed in these environments.

1. Home fellowships (organic communities) [see Part 2 ]

2. Apostolic teams planting Kingdom communities

Apostolic work should result in germinating local communities of the Kingdom. But the apostolic task is broader than that Continue reading “Learning Environments for Apostolic Apprentices [part 3]”