Date of Submission

5-2012

Abstract

The researcher for this study has a long standing interest and involvement in Church planting in Australia. This includes being a Church planting leader, training Church planters as well as being a Church planting coach. His involvement raised questions about the most appropriate methods to prepare and support a Church planter that, in turn, has led to this thesis.

The aim of this inquiry was to investigate Church planters’ experiences of training, coaching, formation and access to support. Their perceptions of their preparation and their in-the-field experiences were sought and, in particular, what they believed to be the most appropriate form of preparation, assistance and support for a Church planting leader facing the challenges and demands of this unique ministry.

The research took a naturalistic methodological approach, founded on an interpretive theoretical stance so that the multiple realities that emanated from among Church planters, in relation to their view of their role in diverse contexts, was able to fully emerge and be examined in a holistic way. While the participants all shared a Christian view of the world, their experiences, memories, strengths and weaknesses, are all legitimate elements of a larger story about Church planting in Australia that needs to be told.

Specifically, a mixed method approach was chosen. Firstly a telescopic view of the issues around Church planting was developed out of the results of a questionnaire which targeted the perspectives of Church planters on training, coaching, formation and access. The pertinent issues that were identified in the questionnaire were then clarified and elaborated upon, by taking a microscopic view through the use of semistructured interviews as part of a series of case studies.

Analysis of the data collected through this thesis indicates Church planters believe that training should take place before they enter the field and they believe that this training assisted them to develop vital skills. Coaching was found to enhance training by encouraging Church planters to understand how to make strategic use of learning developed in training and how a relationship with a coach may cultivate ongoing

formation. Church planters also indicated that instruction on formation was a useful part of their training. For some Church planters the support provided by their sending Churches or Denominations came in the form of access to training and coaching. All these elements (training, coaching, formation and access) were seen as crucial to the ongoing engagement of the Church planters with the communities they were leading.

There were also three emergent issues. Firstly, it was found that some Church planters began their work without the support of a collaborative relationship with a sending Church or Denomination. Secondly, Church planters viewed the role of the spouse as a critical influence in the foundation and maintenance of the new faith community being led by their Church planter spouse. Thirdly, a vision of Scripture and ministry was found to have a greater influence on the approach that most Church planters adopted to establish their new work than that which had been indicated through a review of the relevant literature.

The theoretical and practical implications of this study include: that a collaborative approach from all those involved in Church planting is needed. Such relationships will seek to identify the most appropriate training and coaching options to maximize the effect of the skills and formation in the Church planters that are being sent out to this work; and, that Church planting leaders require the same level of careful preparation and support as that being offered to those who lead Churches that are already established.

The findings of this thesis indicate that further research is necessary into the role assessment might play in identifying effective leaders for Church planting; as well as into the supportive role spouse in the life of the Church planter. Further, more needs to be known about how to best support the efforts of Church planters who are working outside of supportive collaborative relationships with a sending Church or Denomination.

School/Institute

School of Education

Document Type

Thesis

Access Rights

Open Access

Extent

227 pages

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Research) (EdD(Res))

Faculty

Faculty of Education

Included in

Education Commons

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