New Paradigms in Church Planting: Freeing Our Imagination to Plant Differently

We (Eun Strawser and I) are excited to host this church planting pre-conference at Awakenings 2023 in Chicago, IL in April. Together we will look at the following shifts to help us imagine a new way to plant in our current cultural moment.

Rethinking Leadership:
From solo leadership to leading as a community

Leadership in the church was never meant to be a lonely venture. Churches were designed to be led by a community within a community, with Jesus as the head. There are contextual, biblical, theological, emotional and practical reasons to move from solo leadership to leading as a community. It is a way that awakens the priesthood of all believers. We will not only explore why we need to rethink leadership, but also look at how shared leadership combines with five-fold intelligence to free leaders to live into their calling with greater depth.

Redesigning Structure:
From centering Sunday to centering discipleship

A growing number of young people dislike the church but love Jesus. Yet we all long for transcendence – a sense of purpose, a group to belong to, as well as healing and wholeness. People long for mentors that will help them to become more like Jesus. But too often we have inherited a form of church where instead of making space for deep community, missional purposes, and intentional development to become more like Jesus, we have settled for a once-a-week event. If we desire to see God’s reign become a greater reality in our neighborhoods and social networks, we need to move discipleship from the peripheral to the center of what we do.

Renovating Mission:
From “us to them” to “us with them”

Too often mission has become project oriented. Whether justice projects or people-as-projects, we reduce mission to ‘fixing’ something. Too often our neighbors have become the object of mission. Renovating mission involves seeing our neighbors as fellow subjects in the story of God. We are called to point people to the center of that story: Jesus, who is not an imperial power, but a slain lamb. When we recognize that everyone not living under the reign of God needs a type of conversion, we rediscover, as Peter did in his call to share with Cornelius, that conversion is a two-way street. When the seventy-two were sent out, they had to rely on the generosity of those to whom they were sent. Those whom were sent brought the good news, those receiving provided hospitality. This is a different way to live on mission. We can co-create spaces of belonging where we can all learn to follow Jesus more closely.

To join us, visit the Awakenings 2023 registration page where you can purchase a ticket for the pre-conference alone (One-Day Pass: Pre-conf: New Paradigms for Planting) or a combination ticket that includes both the pre-conference and the Awakenings conference together (Regular + New Paradigms for Planting Pre-Conf V3). We hope you can make it to both. We look forward to seeing you in Chicago!

About the Author

JR Woodward


JR Woodward has been passionately planting churches on the East and West Coast that value tight-knit community, life-forming discipleship, locally-rooted presence and boundary-crossing mission for over 25 years. He is the author of Creating a Missional Culture (IVP, 2012) and co-author of The Church as Movement (IVP, 2016). He co-founded the Missio Alliance and currently serves as the National Director for the V3 Church Planting Movement. He is the co-founder of the Praxis Gathering and writes for numerous websites and journals. He has a Masters of Arts in Global Leadership from Fuller Theological Seminary and is working on his PhD at the University of Manchester (UK). He loves to surf, travel, read, skateboard and meet new people. He enjoys photography and film and tries to attend the Sundance Film Festival whenever he can.

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