Missions, Outreach

How a church-planting manual can be helpful

IBELIEVE it is very possible for your church to plant 20 new self-supporting churches in the next 10 years – but you need a plan. Allow me to re-tell a well-known story.

The Story of the Shoe Factory

The manager of a well-established shoe factory was fired because for three years the company lost money. Orders kept going down because the factory kept failing to meet the deadlines for delivery requested by their clients.

The Board of Directors hired a new manager to look into the problem. On his first day at work, the new manager went round and spoke to the three assistant managers and soon discovered what the problem was.

The first assistant manager was very insistent that all the shoes should be strong and sturdy.

The second assistant manager would often change the design of the shoe at the last minute because he wanted the shoes to be soft and comfortable.

The third assistant manager would often halt the production because he was unhappy with the colour scheme of the shoe.

The three assistant managers never sat down to agree on the final design of the shoe – which often resulted in arguments and long delays in the production line.

The new manager spent the first few weeks sitting together with his assistant managers to iron out their differences.

Together they:

• LOOKED at the raw materials they had at their disposal to make the shoes;

• AGREED on the final design of each shoe they would make;

• CAREFULLY planned the steps in the production line; and

• DIVIDED their responsibilities to ensure quality control at various stages of the operation.

Within a short time, the factory began to meet all production deadlines. Orders picked up and the company became profitable again. End of story.

Of course, this is an imaginary story. What self-respecting shoe company would dare to manufacture shoes without clear design specifications?

Yet sometimes we embark on a missions programme without a clear idea of what we are trying to do. Could we be like a shoe company without the design specifications?

For the last year, a small curriculum development team at the Methodist Missions Society (MMS) has been working to produce draft design specifications for your church’s missions programmes. As I write this article, 18 chapters have already been drafted. By the time you read this, we hope we will have completed the remaining chapters.

So, if you are a pastor or lay leader or on the missions committee and you would like to be involved in church planting, please contact me. If you travel regularly on business and you have heard the call to share the Word of God to the people you do business with, please contact me.

I want to put in your hands a simple tool that will help you and your church plant new self-supporting churches in the region. We will give you the soft copy of our design specifications and allow you the freedom to alter it according to your own convictions.

Without clear design specifications and a definite plan, we will waste a lot of our limited time, energy and resources.

Contact me at mms@methodist.org.sg or visit our website at www.mms.org.sg

The Rev Dr Norman Wong is the Executive Director of the Methodist Missions Society.