Disciple-Making: Playing Ball in All Four Fields

When it comes to disciple-making, church-planting movements often use a tool known as the Four Fields.
Field One (Go) is the entry strategy. Typically, it involves discovering a person of peace, as in Luke 10:1-12 (for a great description of the role of a person of peace read JR Woodward’s article, “The Person of Peace and Their ‘Oikos’”). 
Field Two (Gospel) is all about sowing gospel seed. It involves sharing one’s testimony and pointing to Scriptures that lead recipients to an understanding of the person of Christ and an embracing of Him as Lord.
Field Three (Grow) is about discipleship. The idea is to immediately engage new followers of Christ in learning what it means to walk in His ways, follow His commands, and share their newfound faith with friends and family.
Field Four (Gather) is the outcome of the new Christian’s sharing of his or her faith with others in his or her oikos; the result being that these hearers in turn become follows of Jesus. New groups begin and are expected to reproduce quickly.
This is the stuff that many movements are made of, and it is happening all over the world.
[Tweet “4-Field disciple-making’s the stuff many movements are made of–it’s happening all over the world”]

Various Four Fields Approaches

Recently, it occurred to me that other kinds of church-starting approaches utilize these same four fields. However, they sometimes use them in a different order than listed above. Or they may utilize different entry strategies or emphasize each of the four fields differently. They may approach the fields with a different sense of timing. Some may even have mixed expectations for reproduction.
Some new churches utilize the gathering as their primary entry strategy (Go). Once they have a team, usually not from the harvest, they offer a gathering or a series of gatherings to kick off the new church (this has often been contrasted with a Go strategy and referred to as a “Come” strategy). This approach works best in homogenous populations where people have something in common, such as age, lifestyle, language, or interests. Invitation through some form of marketing or advertising creates a broad appeal among individuals who will likely respond to the same kind of appeal. The evangelism (Gospel) and discipleship (Grow) fields are usually approached more slowly as part of a larger strategy. The approach may or may not lead to reproduction.
Other new churches are started with a Field One approach that involves an entry strategy of embedding a core group in the context of a particular place. They serve communities, practice hospitality, adopt ministries or social concerns, meet people, and share Christ. These place-based approaches create the opportunity for an authentic “Go” strategy.
Sometimes these kinds of churches rearrange Fields Two, Three, and Four: they create a gathering from the people they meet and then share the gospel with those people, developing them as disciples. Again, this may or may not introduce reproductive DNA in the new disciples. It should be noted that this may be a slower process than that of the previous example. However, it is also possible to find persons of peace through this kind of entry strategy and to follow through with Fields Two, Three, and Four in accordance with the original version of the Four Fields.
[Tweet “Place-based approaches to church planting create opportunity for authentic “Go” strategies”] Do you know any church-planting approaches that do not utilize some kind of Go-Gospel-Grow-Gather strategy? Perhaps extracting a large core from an existing congregation is one way to do it, but is that really church planting?
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About the Author

Linda Bergquist

Linda has been involved in church planting for 38 years, 36 of which have been in urban areas. She is currently a church planting catalyst for the North American Mission Board and has served as an adjunct professor in several seminaries. She co-authored the books Church Turned Inside Out, The Wholehearted Church Planter, and City Shaped Churches and authored the Exponential ebook: The Great Commission and the Rest of Creation.

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