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October 22, 2015

Using Networks for City Transformation

By Daniel Im

Every month, Plus Members get video enhanced training from Ministry Grid on topics like leadership, ministry systems, residencies, multiplication, church planting, and multisite. This month, Dr. Bob Roberts, who is the Lead Pastor at Northwood Church, as well as the founder of Glocal.net, encourages churches and church planting networks to be discipleship based and multiplication focused. He calls pastors to focus on their own cities, but through their church plants, create bases from which to reach out and impact the world for the glory of God.

*Plus Members can watch this entire Video Training by logging in and clicking here.

Do you have a heart for your city?

What are you doing to multiply your church? Are you connected into a denomination or church planting network, where together, you are focusing on reaching your city? The following are four points that Bob illustrates regarding the importance of engaging your city and the world with a church planting network.

1. Church planting networks do not (or should not) replace the local church as the catalyst for church planting

Local churches should drive church planting efforts. Networks aren’t the sole catalysts for church planting, they are tools that help sharpen church planting. Through years of experience, Bob encourages pastors and church planters to belong to a network in their own city, community, or region.

2. The Bible should be the blueprint for a church planting network

Theology without practice is dead; and practice without theology is destructive. In short, theology should drive practice. With regards to church planting, missiology should drive our ecclesiology as well as our missional practices. Since Scripture describes God on a worldwide mission, church plants should consider themselves as bases for participation in His worldwide mission.

Colossians 1:15–20 provides the specific blueprint that directs Glocal.net and their church planting efforts. Big-ticket items such as God’s glory, the trinity, the kingdom, Jesus’ supremacy, and domains (all found in Col 1) are foundational beliefs for them. These beliefs serve as centered-set boundaries that attract like-minded people to partner with the network. In addition, these foundational beliefs serve as the launching pad for how God’s people are called to engage the world—the world’s people, domains, structures, and institutions.

3. Learning makes church planting networks more effective at multiplication

Bob has such a proven track record at multiplying churches because he is incredibly passionate about learning. Given that he is always learning how to be more effective at multiplication, he’s willing to change and shake things up For instance, since Northwood planted their first church in 1992, Bob has changed the way he has approached multiplication several times. In addition, Bob is always learning from others, including the global church and its leaders. Learning from the global church has led Bob to implement many principles back in his own network that has increased their rate of multiplication. Through flexibility and humility, Bob and Glocal.net have become very effective at multiplying.

4. Networks are best built through the concept of family

At the heart of God’s mission is the formation of a people for His glory. Thus, being a part of God’s people means that one is a part of His family. Family is a rich concept expressed throughout Scripture, especially in the New Testament. And this concept has greatly influenced Bob over recent years. He asserts, above all else, that guys want to belong to a family. For Bob, he views the men coming through his church planting network as family. As a result, he pours his life into them as sons, so that they might go and pour themselves out into the life of their local church.

Just as in a biological family children share their parents DNA, so too does Bob and the church planters he disciples. According to Bob, the following four characteristics are present in all the church plants that are a part of his network:

  • Passion for the Kingdom
  • Desire to plant and multiply churches
  • A call to the globe
  • Engagement with the poorest parts of the cities

Don’t try to reach your city on your own. Partner together with your denomination or join a church planting network. After all, partnerships like these will only serve to help you and equip you and your church to be more effective at engaging your city and multiplying your church.

For more information from Bob on engaging a city, church planting, and church planting networks see, Transformation: Discipleship that Turns Lives, Churches and the World Upside Down and The Multiplying Church: The New Math for Starting New Churches. And become a Plus Member today to watch this video as well as benefit from other resources like this on church multiplication.


Daniel Im

Daniel Im (@danielsangi) is the Senior Associate Pastor of Beulah Alliance Church, a multiplying multisite church focused on reaching 1% of Edmonton for Christ. His latest book is You Are What You Do: And Six Other Lies about Work, Life, and Love. He is also the author of No Silver Bullets and co-author of Planting Missional Churches. He co-hosts the New Churches Q&A Podcast, as well as the IMbetween Podcast. He has an M.A. in Global Leadership and has served and pastored in church plants and multisite churches ranging from 100 people to 50,000 people in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Korea, Edmonton, and Nashville. Because of their love for the local church, after pioneering and leading the church multiplication initiative for LifeWay, Daniel and his wife, Christina, moved back to Canada with their three children. For more information, visit danielim.com and follow him on social media @danielsangi.


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