Why Church Planting Is Still So Important? An Interview with Peyton Jones
Interview By Matthew Fretwell
Church planting has not only intrigued me, it motivates me. Whether pastoring an established church or getting involved in a missional community, the principles of church planting are essential for growth and discipleship.
Recently, I sat down and had coffee with Peyton Jones. I admire his love for Christ and passion to reach the lost. Peyton is the President and Lead Church Planting Trainer at New Breed Church Planting. He is the author of Church Zero (David C. Cook 2013) and the Co-host of the Church Planter Podcast. In addition, he runs Jump School, an online church planter’s training course (www.jumpschooltraining.com).
Me: Can I start at the beginning for those who may not understand the terminology? What exactly is church planting?
Peyton: That question reminds me of my Jr. High P.E. class when my coach held up a basketball in his hand and said, “This is a basketball”. I think that your question is an important one though because I think much of what’s being called church planting really isn’t church planting. An extension campus isn’t a church plant. I would go so far as to say that anything that is aiming to gather believers together may be a “church start” but it’s not a church plant. Church planting happens as a result of evangelism, not marketing. Church planting happens almost accidentally when a person evangelizes. I can’t see Paul turning up to a city with a logo, a website, and a rental space and calling it a church plant. No, Paul infiltrated a community, and shared Jesus. Churches were needed when evangelism was successful. What we call church planting almost sidesteps evangelism, risk, and the lost altogether. So, to answer your question, church planting is the establishment of a community of new believers that gather together after the gospel has broken new ground in a particular area.
Me: You have been involved in Church Planting in the UK and America, what would say is the major difference and how would you respond to someone who felt the call to plant a church there?
Peyton: Most of what works here in America won’t work there. In fact, it’s starting to be ineffective here. The church planting of 20-30 years ago isn’t the church planting today. Many of the guys who planted then, and now reign atop mega-churches wouldn’t survive today if they had to plant. They certainly wouldn’t last in Europe! Somebody who wants to plant in Europe needs to be prepared to embrace a life of obscurity. In fact, they need to realize that they are going to be looking at smaller numbers proportionately, but they’ll learn to do what they did in the book of Acts. Of course, human nature is to put our heads in the ostrich hole and hope the post modern world just goes away, but those who will gain ground in the trenches of Europe will be those who will get out of the ecclesiastical foxhole and go over the top with the gospel to take “No Man’s Land”.
Me: You’ve written a book called, Church Zero. I’ve said to many people that I believe our current generation mirrors the first-century with its syncretism, spiritualism, idolatry, and the expressions of cultural norms and values—and yet the beauty of the gospel shined through. Church Zero calls the modern church to focus at its power and calling, an apostolic and radical movement of God. Can you clarify what you see and how it can impact, not just church planters, but all churches?
Peyton: That’s a great question. I think that the church has the greatest weapon in the world, namely the Holy Spirit. We are a bit like Indiana Jones with all of our marketing. The whole time, we’ve got the pistol at our side, and when we get overwhelmed, we pull it out and use it. The trick is, getting churches and pastors to a point where they’ll feel overwhelmed and underpowered to the point where they think they need Him again. I think that much of the frustration that pastors go through is God trying to get them to that point.
Me: I’ve been a church planter, a pastor in an established church, and am now a pastor of a revitalized church; it felt like each of these had a different ethos. This is a two-part question: (1) I’ve been saying for some time that all pastors should have to take church planting courses, would you agree? (2) We obviously need called people to do serve in all three types of churches, but how we can get them to work together?
Peyton: I think that the great secret of planting and revitalization is that you do the exact same thing. They are the same principles, but you’re working with a different shaped lump. If I were going to make a personal pan pizza, it’d be quick for me to roll out the dough and pop it in the oven. But let’s say I wanted to make one big enough for my neighborhood like something you see on the Guinness Book of World Records. I’d need more people, more ingredients, and it’d take a lot longer, but at the end of the day, it’s still a pizza…ahem…church. The goal is the same in both cases. One starts off to reach the lost and is planted with that intent. The other is restored back to it’s missional stance. One is birthing to maturity, the other is restoring to maturity.
Me: You’re a founder of New Breed Church Planting. Can you tell us what makes New Breed so unique compared to other church planting organizations and why it’s important?
Peyton: Haha! Well, firstly we have an incredibly sexy leader. Just kidding.
New Breed is cross-denominational, and cross-movement, but strongly evangelistic. We take people of all theological persuasions within the realm of orthodox evangelicalism. We don’t get hung up on whether a guy is more reformed or Pentecostal. If they love Jesus, and have a heart to see the lost reached with the gospel, then we’ll partner with them as long as they aren’t weird or have some of the nonsense going on that you see on God TV. We are more a kingdom movement, and less an empire institution. We are a brotherhood of planters who support each other in frontline, 1st century style, guerilla church planting.
Here’s our distinctives:
- We are committed to going after the lost first and foremost.
- We plant churches that plant churches.
- We model our churches after the team leadership of Ephesians 4.
- We prioritize planting amongst the poor, and marginalized of society.
- We train planters on the ground in residencies and send them out when their training is done.
Me: About a decade ago church planting began to take on a kind of celebrity status. One of my favorite quotes is from Dietrich Bonheoffer, who stated, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” Isn’t this the role of the church, to come and die for the community for the sake of the gospel? Isn’t this view contrary to the glorified ministries some perceive church planting to be? How can we change it?
Peyton: This troubles me. I really struggled with having a book because of this. I am constantly reproducing myself, so my whole aim is to tell people that I’m nothing special. I feel that by letting people know that he was scared and needed prayer at the end of every letter, Paul was telling people that he was no different than they were. That both removes excuses and gives permissions all at the same time. At the end of the day, I want people to be looking to Jesus, not me. As a serial planter, I’m not going to stay in any one church for too long anyways. If you listen to the church planter podcast, Pete and I intentionally goof off for a while so that people can see that we’re just two ordinary guys. We have an extraordinary Jesus who lives inside of us and has given us a supernatural power though. Treasures in jars of clay. I don’t know, people will know who I am through the podcasts and books, but hopefully they won’t think more of me than they ought to. I think Paul had that one down. He was well known, but well grounded in his identity in Christ. He didn’t seem to get off on having people know him.
I can only speak to my struggle on this, but it has been a struggle. Whitefield knew it, as did Spurgeon, but I’m not a lick on those guys and nobody will remember me when I’m gone, so I’ve got it easy!
Me: You and Pete Mitchell have two of the fastest growing Church Planting podcasts, and also have a question and answer session each month with the guys on the front lines of planting, called Jump School. We’ll get into Jump School in a minute, but as a listening of those podcasts there is a wealth of information shared. (1) What brought you guys on that journey and (2) what have you learned?
Peyton: Interesting enough, all of it was Pete’s idea. The magazine and the podcast were Pete. He’s a marketer. He heard me speak at a church once and signed up to my mailing list. I went through my mailing list one day with the intention of calling people and talking to them to see if they had any questions about the ministry. Pete and I talked for an hour. Once he decided to joing the Long Beach church plant, he told me that what I was doing was incredible and as the son of a Baptist Pastor, he’d long felt that missionaries sucked at telling people about the really cool stuff they did. Basically, we were poor marketers. Pete knew that I’d been training guys on the ground at our planting hubs, but then asked if I had any way to train guys all over the world. I didn’t. He did. The Church Planter Podcast was born. I wish I could take credit, but it was Pete seeing a need and wanting to serve planters. That’s been the coolest thing about working with Pete. The guy can make tons of cash with his skills, but he LOVES church planters. He has respect for them and wants to bend over backwards because he recognizes them as spiritual entrepreneurs and that resonates with him. Pete’s an example of one of those guys who doesn’t feel called to plant personally, or go into ministry, but feels God can use him to support those who do. It’s been amazing to watch him get the church planting bug as a “non-planter” and run with it. In many ways, I hope that Pete can be an example to those who will never step into a pulpit, but will push the kingdom forward massively.
Me: OK, now to Jump School, I have to admit, this has stolen my heart. Can you briefly explain to everyone what Jump School is, how it edifies church planters, and how they can access it? I mean, can anyone apply?
Peyton: Jump School is my baby. When I first started training planters in the UK, we called our weekend sessions and church planter intensives “Jump School”. We actually had Green Beret in our first wave of planters. The name stuck, and Jump School became an ongoing thing.
When I moved back from Europe, I wanted to see American planters trained up as if they were planting in the trenches of Europe. It’s kind of like church planting for the future. Jump School is an online training course that I put together with the best of the training I could make available. I joined every online course and sampled what was offered and to be honest, I was underwhelmed. We aimed to make Jump School the absolute best course you could take on it. I think we achieved that.
Jump School is a twelve month membership course that takes planters on a journey from first assessing their calling and if they have what it takes to plant, to finally launching their church. We take them through first century church planting principles so that it’s completely “By the book”. Biblical church planting is a hard thing to find today, and we’re pretty committed to making sure we’re not just giving guys fluff, but following Paul’s foundation laying “like a master builder”.
We care about church planters, and because of that, we’ve poured our all into Jump School. People can check it out at http://www.jumpschooltraining.com
Me: Lastly, I need to get real serious; this is where the rubber meets the road: Can Superman take Batman in hand-to-hand combat? And negating the YouTube series’ results, what about Darth Vader?
Peyton: Finally! I was wondering what the point of this interview was! Now we’re getting somewhere.
Batman always wins. Period. His super power is strategy. He will always have the upper hand and necessary strategy to beat any foe. It’s just who he is. He’s the one guy in the DC Universe that even Superman fears. In the comic, Supes gives Bats his biggest stash of kryptonite and tells him to take him down if he must. Obviously, Superman knows the right man for the job. Besides, Batman has repeatedly beat Superman.
Although I’m a big fan, Darth Vader is easily beaten. Anybody who reads the Star Wars books, will tell you that the reason Palpatine says, “He’s perfect” after he’s burned up in the movie is because he’s missing limbs. The metichlorians (I know…I know) are what carry the force, and the less organic tissue, the less metichlorians. When Anakin was whole, he was too powerful for the emperor, but with no organic limbs, he was manageable and could serve as a puppet. There IS a rematch of that Youtube video, and in it, Batman takes down Vader using the method that the Emperor reveals in the book. All the Emperor has to do is shock vader and it will short out the circuits controlling the suit. The suit after all, is a means of controlling Vader. To be super geeky, General Greivous was just a proto-type of that technology that the Emperor was testing out to eventually use on Anakin. He knew that Anakin would be too strong unless he were “modified” and put in a suit that would make him controllable. Nonetheless, half his force powers, and easily short-circuited, Vader was still a force to be reckoned with. Props to the Dark Lord of the Sith for wiping out countless Jedi. I’m a big fan, but when it comes to going against the Dark Knight, the Dark Lord gets his baby put in the corner!
Matt Fretwell is married, has three daughters, is an author (Denied Desires; Identity Theft, Sanctificagious, 30:1 Manhood, 30:1 Marriage), pastor of a 112 year old revitalized church planting church (Oak Hall Baptist) in Sandston, Virginia), is the founder of Job 31 Ministries, an advocate board member of Living Bread Ministries, a global comprehensive Church Planting organization, the East Coast Coordinator for New Breed Church Planting, and co-founder of a church planting and revitalization initiative called Planting RVA, in Richmond, Va. Matt also writes for Church Planter Magazine and is pursuing his doctorate in Great Commission Leadership at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Twitter: @w84harpazo or Facebook