The great thing about planting a church is the possibility of designing things to effective from the get-go. Pathways has been used as design framework by a number of church plants, working with a variety of church planting models.
Pathways thinking will help you apply practical missiology in your church plant, whether you’re using a ‘hive-off model’ where you take a big group of people from the mothership and open up a similar service elsewhere, use a ‘build and launch’ approach, take the emergent route or link in with a missional communities network like 3DM or SOMA.
The disciplines of identifying a mission focus group and building a relational pathway toward Christ and Christian Maturity are mission challenges for any church, yet-to be born or centuries-old.
If you’re using a Missional Communities model, it works well for each community to look at a specific missional focus group, then shape their outward rhythms around ‘in touch’ and ‘belonging’ activity’. If the whole community can be involved in a single, regular ‘belonging’ environment with unchurched people, relationships form and deepen more quickly and the sense of belonging builds. It makes the transition into an ‘embrace the gospel’ environment much smoother.
If you’re doing a more traditional plant that focuses on the launch of a public worship service, Pathways will encourage you to think carefully about your mission focus and the early stages of the pathway before you launch a service. Plants that have a high number of unchurched people participating in ‘belonging ‘and ‘embrace the gospel’ environments before launching a service tend to be more effective in growing by new faith commitments.
Pathways is not an alternative to church planting ecosystems like Redeemer City-to-City or Australian-based Geneva Push. We strongly encourage planters to link in with a planting ecosystem and to make the most of their resources, assessment processes and support systems. Planters can apply Pathways thinking while fully participating in their planting environment of choice.