Wimber’s Seven Constants of Church Planting
1. Constantly tell your story
Telling your story is a major part of vision-casting and leadership. Not telling your story can be a contributing factor to lack of church growth, because people lose focus when you’re not consistently telling who you are and where you’re going. And they lose their reason for existence. For many people, their sense of mission and reason for existence rightly comes in part out of being a part of this thing — advancing the Kingdom through the local church. And so people need to be constantly reminded of where we’ve been and where we’re going with the vision that God’s given this church. And you do that by constantly telling your story.
2. Constantly tell his story
I’m putting them in that sequence because that’s kind of the way it works. Of course, that’s not the true priority. The true priority is his story. Constantly tell his story. Every occasion ought to have his story in it. Jesus is the Son of God. It’s always in there, always wrapped up in the midst of any exchange with people.
3. Constantly explain the mysteries of life
There are a lot of people who are committed to Jesus, and even to his church — but they are not committed to his cause. How do you know that? By looking at the measurements of how they spend their time, energy and money. They don’t give any time to evangelism, to ministering, to caring for the poor, to looking after widows. Look at their calendar. Look at their check book.
Who are they serving? It looks to me we are often serving everything but Jesus, when we look at where our money goes. Where are you really focused? Most people are not focused on Christ and his cause. So you need to tell them that, over and over again: “Alert! SOS! Wake up! You’re not where you want to be! You’re not where you are supposed to be! You’re not committed!”
4. Constantly disciple
How many of your people are actually in the army? That is a crucial question. Now, some of the people in the army are actually in the hospital at the same time. (Remember: the church is supposed to be an army, a hospital, and a family….they need to know that it’s okay to be in the hospital or to just be in the family. But its not okay to live there permanently! Eventually we have to get you fielded because the measurement is not, I’m hanging out here indefinitely,” but rather, “Here are the sheaves, here are the results, here are the works done in your name and in your service.” I’ve read the Book pretty carefully and that’s what I think it’s all about. We work with people to get them in the army. Constantly disciple.
5. Constantly expand the infrastructure
The first person we often have to disciple is ourselves. You’ll reproduce in kind. Some of you are in the process of planting a church and are wondering why it isn’t happening. It could be one of a thousand variables, but one may be that you are not actually yourself doing the very things you want reproduced in others. But if you’re doing that, you need to constantly expand the structures of your leadership teams, your small groups, and your ministries to accommodate and assimilate and train up those who are coming in. Expanding the infrastructure is a constant task needing our attention if the church is to grow.
6. Constantly live in brokenness
The church is represented in my life. I’m not all that Jesus wants me to be. I’m not all that he’s provided for me. I’m not walking in all that I know. I’m trying, but I’m not doing all that well some days. Are you? That leaves me in a broken state — an awareness of, “O God, O God, except for your mercy and except for your grace.” I think it’s designed to be that way. I think we are supposed to live in the constant reality that we are not measuring up. Even in his righteousness, even under his mercy, even as a recipient of his grace, I can’t walk like Jesus does. I touch on it every now and then. I visit it. That gives me hope and encouragement for more. But the reality is that we have to constantly live in brokenness.
7. Constantly reevaluate and be flexible in what you are doing
All programs, however lovely, must measured and inspected from time to time. Continually look things over. Don’t fix things that aren’t broken. That’s not valid. But be aware that something you did two years ago that did so well may not work this year. You had better look at it. What can we do to adjust it to make it work? Sometimes it’s minor. Sometimes it’s major. Sometimes some of the same leaders who were pulling your cart five years ago maybe can’t pull your cart now. So you need some new leaders.
But whatever you do, don’t hold onto things for their own sake. Programs are means to an end. Evaluate their effectiveness. Keep what works; get rid of what doesn’t. Do whatever is necessary to help the church of Jesus Christ to advance.
John Wimber (1934-1997) was the founding pastor of the Anaheim Vineyard and leader of the Vineyard movement, which now numbers over 750 churches worldwide. He authored several books, including Power Evangelism, Power Healing, and The Way to Maturity