planters1By Rosalva Zimmerman

Church planters from across Arizona were challenged to dream and be creative at the annual Church Planting Retreat Aug. 21 at the Sheraton Crescent Hotel in Phoenix.

“Dream — re-imagine — what new thing God is calling you to do,” said Will Mancini, founder of Auxano — a church consulting organization — and author of Church Unique. “Don’t settle for the categories of church planting that are already out there.”

There were 92 church planting leaders in attendance from as far away as the Navajo Nation in the Four Corners area of northern Arizona to urban and suburban areas in and around Phoenix. There were also participants from Tucson; Blythe, Calif.; and areas stretching from western Arizona along the Colorado River to far eastern Arizona near Eagar.

Mancini encouraged the church planters to be creative in developing a vision for their churches.

“God is inviting us into His imagination of how to get things done,” said Mancini. “In our effort to be biblical, we fail to be imaginative.”

He provided an overview of “Five Tensions” that every church planter faces. The tensions enable connection when a process is combined with a team and the right tools, rather than using a pre-packaged program that may have been successful in some other setting, he said.

The Five Tensions require reflective thinking and self-examination for church planters, with questions such as, Tension One, “Am I running from, or photocopying, the vision of the church I am leaving?”

Tension Two challenges pastors with the question, “Will I build the church that is in my head only, or the one that God will begin to grow?” As believers, we must be students of what God is doing around us and respond to that activity, Mancini said.

Tension Three is, “Will my metrics of success be limited by the metrics of yesterday?” Mancini believes churches must change their score card and get out of the one-dimensional measure of attendance being the indicator of success.planters2

Tension Four asks, “Will I leverage a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lay a vision foundation?” and Tension Five stresses the importance of communication for church leaders with the question “Will I choose to translate that vision for the core team or will I just rely on my own talent?”

The day’s activities included a time for church planters to gather in small groups to share their needs and spend time in focused prayer for one another.

“The purpose of the event was to inspire, encourage and provide opportunity for renewing and making new relationships with other church planting couples,” said Ken Belflower, Arizona Southern Baptist Convention church planting facilitator.