How We Do It

There are many ways that a church could execute a church planting movement, and the approaches that succeed vary wildly.  What we are sharing with you is how we do it, but there are many ways. 

Key Components

At Hill Country Bible Church our model of church planting involves several key components. 

As mentioned in the previous blog, to help accelerate the church planting efforts, in 2004, the Church Planting Training Center (CPTC) was created to assess, train, resource and coach church planters to reach the Greater Austin area with the Gospel.  At HCBC our model of church planting involves a “Planting Church” that provides the initial leadership and resources (money, ministry model, mentoring and missionaries) to get a new Church Plant started.

This includes the assessment and selection of the church planter. The assessment ensures that the planter demonstrates the capacities, competencies and chemistry to plant as a partner in our network.  This allows for a close working relationship between the Planting Church and the Church Plant. Although the goal for the Church Plant is eventually autonomy, HCBC has significant influence in the Church Plant that slowly recedes from the pre-launch phase through the first three years. The key advantages to this approach include planting in the context of a city-reaching movement of co-laborers, learning from twenty years of experience, and leveraging HCBC’s financial resources as well as their missionary force of potential core group.

Coaching and Accountability
The Church Plant Team (CPT) is the key decision making component in the church planting process.  The CPT is under the supervision of the Executive Team (Senior Staff) and an emerging group of Church Planter Coaches (former elders) that assist our new churches with the goal of developing self-sustaining, elder led, reproductive churches.  The coach’s role in the church plant is to supervise the progress and execution of the church planter and his elder team’s annual Ministry Plan and provide coaching to elevate the “winning behaviors” as described in what we call the Seven Characteristics of a Missional Church (7 CMC’s).

Defining Viability and Autonomy
A Church Plant becomes a Church upon the approval of the Planting Church, when it has at least two staff members, five elders, 200 average adult worship attendance, 2% of budget given to church planting, 8% budgeted to missions, and a five year city reaching/church planting plan. 

Missional Strategy
Initially Hill Country used the “Hive” church planting model that focuses on sending a large group of families (50-75 families) into a new geography with our DNA/background.  After planting a number of solid, sizable churches with this model, they found that the model didn’t scale to rapid multiplication.  In addition, this model tends to focus on what Ralph Winter called the “Modality rather than the Sodality” – the Ministry rather than the Mission -- building ministry programs for the already convinced rather than living with the central sense of being sent to evangelize a new community.  While funding for the hive provides security, historically there is a lower conversion growth rate. 

By shifting to a leaner, meaner, more demanding, missional model of church planting and providing a residency for new church planters, the emphasis shifts to gathering people from the harvest instead of sending so many from the planting church, certainly a slower strategy, yet focusing on the Sodalic, missionary side of the equation.  The Missional Model also appreciates the reality that in the city there are a broad variety of people groups many of whom have a significant disconnect culturally and socially from middle class, white suburbanites. 

Within this new reality, the need for coaching becomes a huge success factor.  The effective coach becomes the effective manager of expectations.  In fact, according to Ed Stetzer’s research on Church Plant Survivability, if the expectations of the church plant are coached to meet the reality of the church planting experience, the chance of survivability increases by over 400 percent. [1]  (More on coaching later).

Called as a Lead Pastor by Hill Country Bible Church Austin in 1989, Tim Hawks’ love for God’s word has helped thousands of people call Hill Country Bible Church their church home. Tim Hawks is a 1981 BBC graduate and currently sits on the Board of Directors for Christ Together and provides leadership to likeminded pastors who long to see the gospel shared with every man, woman and child across the country.

[1] Ed Stetzer’s Report on Church Plant Survivability, 2007