Craig Ott is the Professor of Mission and Intercultural Studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS). He received a BA from California State University and his MDiv and PhD from TEDS.
Dr. Ott occupies the ReachGlobal Chair of Mission, which was established to link the EFCA mission agency and seminary. He formerly served 21 years in Germany with ReachGlobal (formerly the EFCA International Mission). He has planted churches in Schaumburg, Illinois and in Munich, Ingolstadt, Neumarkt and Markt Indersdorf, Germany. For seven years Dr. Ott served as the Central Europe Church Planting Consultant for ReachGlobal. For four years he taught at the Akademie für Weltmission in Korntal, Germany, where he continues to teach regularly as an adjunct professor. He has taught or consulted national and mission leaders in 40 different countries. Dr. Ott and his wife Alice live in Buffalo Grove, Illinois and have three grown sons. His hobbies include bicycling, film and guitar. He is the author of “Missionary Methods: Research, Reflections, and Realities” and “Global Church Planting”.
Before you listen to the podcast, take a simple self-assessment. Give yourself a score on a scale of 0 – 3: 0 – Never, 1 – Sometimes, 2 – Often and 3 – Almost always.
___ Every time I train church planters, I encourage my planters to think through how they might discover, develop and deploy bi-vocational and co-vocational planters from the harvest, for the harvest and for the purpose of church multiplication.
___ I help planters develop their time management and priority skills in order to ensure that they devote time and energy toward maintaining a healthy family life.
___ The planters I train understand the difference between being a church-growth motor in ministry and being a kingdom-focused mobilizer in ministry.
Where did you score highest? Lowest? What does this score tell you about your ability to help the planters you are training to lead their church plant toward multiplication? What steps might you take to help your planters set a multiplying DNA in their church plant?
Now, listen to the podcast with Craig Ott. Afterwards, answer the questions below.
Dr. Ott mentioned two strategies for mobilizing more bi-vocational and co-vocational church planting efforts:
1) Tell stories to inspire and encourage. He said that some who may have felt the tug of God on their hearts to plant as bivo/covo planters may not have acted upon that tug because they’ve never heard a story or seen an example of it.
2) Explicitly recruit to this bivo/covo vision by holding it up as a first class calling of God.
Which of these two strategies do the planters you are training need to apply the most? What other strategies might you add to his? How might your own local church begin to cast vision for bivo/civo church planting?
Dr. Ott mentioned several times that we must focus on raising up leaders from the harvest for the harvest. He gave the example from scripture of how Paul did not write back to Antioch and say, “Send more missionaries!” Instead, he won people like Timothy and Apollos to Christ and then sent them into the harvest. Paul had a “from-the-harvest-for-the-harvest” strategy. What are the barriers in the Western church that keep us from adopting Paul’s strategy as our own? What are some ways we can overcome those barriers?
Dr. Ott said that many planters have a dream of planting a “big church” that will have sufficient resources to plant other churches, and that is what will lead to multiplication. He said, “This doesn’t work.” He said that it works for addition but not multiplication. In your own life and ministry, when have you seen a “big church” fail to multiply? Why did that church fail to multiply? What can you do as a trainer to make sure that the next generation of planters don’t make that “big-church-that-fails-to-multiply” mistake?
When building a church planting strategy, Dr. Ott says that he trains leaders to have “a slower start to have a wider effect.” He says that it’s a lot slower to focus on equipping others, but that’s when we get to multiplication. Think of a pyramid. At the base is evangelism, then discipleship. Next is leading groups, then leader development. Finally, we reach multiplication. The planter has to plan for, pray toward and work on mobilization early on because it’s very hard to make a turn toward multiplication down the road. When have you seen a church planter that had “a faster start to have a wider effect”? How might you have trained that planter differently?
After listening to this podcast, what is God saying to you about how you might create a great culture of multiplication in your own church? What is God saying to you about how you can help planters become more kingdom-minded multipliers? What are your next steps? When will you start? Who will help you?