Practical Vision Development – Part I

Practical Vision Development – Part I


Vision. Every advance of the gospel is first a vision in the mind and heart of one person. “Israel’s leaders took charge, and the people gladly followed. Praise the LORD!” is stated in Judges 5:2. However if the vision is to be gladly followed, it must be shared and owned by others. Most believers find direction for their lives by embracing a vision that God has given to someone else. In the end it doesn’t matter who had the original vision, because it is jointly owned by all.

How does vision become practical and strategic? This is an article about how a church planting vision moves beyond an idea in the planter’s heart and becomes practical and strategic. Nehemiah wrote in detail how he received the vision and how he put it into practical, programmatic action. If it is not practical and strategic others will become frustrated and find it hard to support the vision, even if the planter is a gifted leader. Tell someone to do something without giving them the tools to do it, and they will end up defeated and frustrated. For example, tell Christians they should evangelize without giving them a practical tool to do it…it defeats them. They already feel bad for not evangelizing.


Write the vision statement down first. The practical strategy will come later. Make it plain and simple. So that whomever reads it can get on board and run with it. Although you might have a ton of impactful ideas about all that can be outworked from the vision, the actual statement must be written in one sentence…and easily understood. Don’t confuse call and vision. Call is one a one-time thing…”I am called to plant a church”. Vision is specific and distinctive to your church plant. What terminology that is used is important. New terms are good and help to frame an idea. Give people a challenge. Why? Because people respond to a challenge!


Next the vision has to be tested. Step out in faith as God opens doors and begin to test whether the vision has God’s blessing. It must be bigger than you. Test the vision privately with peers. This gets the self out of it. Vision must meet a human need for others to rally to it. It must help people. Compassion gets people on board. So developing the “why” of the vision is essential.


Pray and fast for the process. Nehemiah sat down and was moved by the need. He wept and fasted. Every vision is both supernatural and natural. We plan the natural part and pray for God to do the supernatural part. For Nehemiah, he led and planned for the people to build the wall in natural and it led to spiritual revival among the children of Israel. Since Nehemiah is the last chronological book in the Old Testament that means the Old Testament closes with revival because of his efforts.


Next get an accurate starting point for your vision. Nehemiah inspected the wall himself. He surveyed the need personally to be sure he had an accurate assessment. Realistic assessment is essential for eventual success. In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins says knowing “the cold, hard facts” is crucial to success, even the ones that are not favorable. If you want to fly from London to New York you need to know where you are located to begin your flight. If think you are in London but you are really in Johannesburg, you will end up in Rio de Janeiro instead of New York. Do your study, research and reflection.


In part II we will look at developing a plan.

Brian Sauder

Brian Sauder currently serves on the International Apostolic Council of DOVE and directs the DOVE Training Schools. He and his wife Janet help to provide oversight and direction for DOVE churches in CanadaUSA and South Africa. Brian and Janet have over 25 years of experience in leadership of churches, small groups, youth groups, government and business.

Praying and Worshipping Together

Praying and Worshipping Together

Praying together allows us to hear what each other has faith for. It allows each of us to have a picture of each other’s relationship with the Lord, spiritual gifts and revelation. At the time of this writing, I will soon fly to be with pastors for the single purpose of doing a prayer retreat together. 

We will cry out, listen, worship Jesus, dream together, intercede for one another, seek God’s heart and plans, do prophetic hot seats and more. Our faith will be built and we expect to receive a clear direction for the next season that God has for us and our lives and our churches. This time is dear to my heart as I know the fresh life that can come out of extended times together in prayer and worship.

All in all, we expect to grow closer to God and each other. We expect to know how to carry each other in prayer going into the next season. We will learn what each of us is having faith for and what our concerns are. And most important God will build His word in our midst and we will have clarity about what He is saying for each individual, each ministry, and the broader ministry.

I truly am excited. It takes some intentional planning but it is well worth it. It is life-giving and refreshing. If you don’t have times scheduled to pray together with your church plant and your teams, I encourage you to make it a regular occurrence.

Merle Shenk serves on the DOVE International apostolic council and is the associate pastor of Newport Church



Why Plant New Churches?

Why Plant New Churches


Tim Keller, who for many years pastored Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York once wrote; “The vigorous, continual planting of new congregations is the single most crucial strategy for 1) the numerical growth of the Body of Christ in any city, and 2) the continual corporate renewal and revival of the existing churches in a city. 

Nothing else—not crusades, outreach programs, para-church ministries, growing mega-churches, congregational consulting, nor church renewal processes—will have the consistent impact of dynamic, extensive church planting.” I completely agree.


The planting of new churches is the best way to reach new generations, new residents and new people groups. In fact, younger adults have always been disproportionately found in newer congregations. Let’s get about our heavenly father’s business and encourage planting new churches; new wineskins for the new wine of our generation!

  • Larry Kreider

Larry Kreider serves as International Director of DOVE International 

Questions I wish I knew to ask

Questions that I wish I knew to ask.

Recently I was asked to speak about church planting. As I sat down to put my thoughts on the computer, I was taken back on my own journey. I remember when well-respected senior leaders on several occasions asked me how they could help me. I remember being bewildered because I did not how to answer that question. If I knew what I needed, I was fairly certain that I could get it. However, my problem was that I did not know, what I did not know! I knew I needed help, but I did not know what I needed! 

As I began putting my thoughts on the computer, I started to write out questions that I wish that I would have known to ask. Someone once said that the key to success is knowing the right questions to ask. Here is a list of questions that can be helpful in the discovery process of planting churches.

Click on this link to download these powerful questions:

Church Planting Questionnaire

  • Merle Shenk 

Merle Shenk serves on the DOVE International apostolic council and is the associate pastor of Newport Church.


Locating, Growing and Incorporating Intercessors for Your Ministry

Locating, Growing and Incorporating Intercessors for Your Ministry


Incorporating those who pray over you and your vision for church planting seems like a no brainer. But how do you identify these persons and better yet, how do you keep them praying?

When asking someone to pray for you concerning a specific mission, often the response is to receive a yawn, then a look in another direction and finally a nonchalant response like, “Uh, yeah, ok.”


But it doesn’t have to be that way. My wife and I were on the lookout for a small band of persons who loved us, loved what we were called to and wanted to know more about that call. It was also advantageous for them to have a heart to pray for us. We watched and waited and soon discovered there were such persons in our lives. We approached them with the question, “Hey, we really appreciate your personal interest, your questions about what we’re doing and your heart to even mention praying for us, would you be interested in joining a team of intercessors?”


You have identified them and you approach them. Rarely have we had someone approach us. Most persons do not even think in those terms, but when you define the prayer ministry description and how you will not inundate them with daily email, they normally respond with a resounding yes. We ask for a one-year commitment only. At the end of each year, we approach them and ask if they would like to continue to serve in the intercessory role for another year.


Obviously this person loves to pray as well. You know they have a committed relationship to God and are mature enough to not be seeking information about your personal life, but rather long for you and your vision to succeed. These are persons whom you have not just met at a first time gathering, but are persons who you have a track record with and you’re aware of their faithful heart.


We will email prayer requests that are both personal and ministry oriented. We have that level of confidence in our team. Speaking of confidence, we ask that everything we share remain confidential – between them and their heavenly Father only. Normally we email them twice a month with a brief as possible prayer update. Please note, these email prayer requests, updates and praises need to be consistent from you to them or you will send the message that the intercessors are an afterthought.


We tell our intercessors that we are not looking for return email unless Holy Sprit speaks something to them and they are compelled to respond with a scripture, a prophetic word or an encouragement. Otherwise we have no expectation of ongoing email conversation.


Some persons we know meet face-to-face with their team, but our team is spread all over the USA and that simply is not possible. When we can, we will meet individually with members. We also pray for them and regularly thank them for voluntarily being a part of the ministry. And, at Christmas time we’ll remember them with a card of thanks and sometimes a gift.


All in all, we take confidence in the Father calling these persons to us, having developed a heart for prayer and we find reassurance through the protection in offensive and defensive personal prayer for our travel, our speaking and our oversight ministry. You can enjoy this same reassurance in the Spirit with a team of intercessors. Start with one committed person and grow a team from there. You’ll immediately be aware of the benefits.

  • Steve Prokopchak


Steve serves full-time as a pastoral overseer at DOVE Christian Fellowship International, a ministry which takes him all over the globe teaching, training, and supporting church leaders.

Don’t Stop Pouring

Don’t Stop Pouring

In Steve Backlund’s book “Help I’m a Pastor” he talks about pastors not trying to grow big churches but rather growing “Big People”. Many leaders spend a lot of time developing the best strategies, systems or programs. As leaders, we are called to the development of people. 

When we put our time and effort into building “big people” their skills and talents can shine in turn to also build others. This is the most powerful way to build the church. It is the model of spiritual parenting that we speak about in DOVE. It is the model that Paul describes in 2 Timothy 2:2


2 Timothy 2:2

“And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”


It is the picture of a cup pouring into other cups which pour into other cups which allows for exponential growth, eventually turning into a rushing river of God’s kingdom flowing into lives. Investing our time energy and effort into people will not be lost. There may be some who disappoint, this even happened to Jesus. But don’t stop pouring!


Jesus tells the parable of the farmer sowing seed in Luke chapter 8. What would have happened if the farmer stopped sowing when he discovered his seed was falling on the path or the rocks or the thorns? He would not have received the harvest from the good soil!


Many times when dealing with the lives of people, you cannot determine the condition of the soil of their lives. But one thing that you can determine is how much seed you will sow. You cannot control whether or not someone will receive from you, but you can decide if you are going to continue to sow. That is something that you can control!


I heard someone say, “in business, you have to control what is controllable”. Meaning there are things that you have control over and there are things you don’t. By the way, never allow something that you don’t have control over to convince you that you are a failure. But do take responsibility for those things that you do have control over. You have control over if and how much you will continue to pour into other people. Let us decide now to never stop being one who sows.

Galatians 6:9

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

  • Merle Shenk

Merle Shenk serves on the DOVE International apostolic council and is the associate pastor at Newport Church.


A Work in Progress

Church planting, like any other future vision, is a work in progress. For those who think the process is taking entirely too long, I invite you to look at the prophet Habakkuk where he talks about vision.

Hab 2:3

 “This vision is for a future time.

It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled.

If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently,

for it will surely take place.

It will not be delayed.” (NLT)

Full Term

Vision is for a future time and in the end it will come to pass but the nature of vision is that it takes time to be fulfilled and that is something that we need to come to grips with. Especially for those who have trouble waiting on things to come full term. A baby takes nine months to be fully developed in it mother’s womb and if it comes too early there can be complications that develop with it. The same can be true of vision. A vison birthed too soon often carries complications and challenges that wouldn’t necessarily be there if the proper time of development would have been allotted.

The Place you are going…

There is the development of the vision that takes time and then there is also the development of the individual. Make no mistake, God is using today’s circumstances to develop you for the future plans He has for you. I was going through a very challenging season of my life in business one time and I was spending time with the Lord asking Him questions about my future, the future of the business, while trying to discern His will for my life. I will never forget the words He quietly spoke to my heart. “The place where you are going, the pressure is much greater than you are experiencing here, this is training ground for you!” From that time forward I looked at challenging situations in a totally different light. What is He trying to teach me? What can I learn from this life situation? It was totally freeing for me and caused me to embrace challenges vs. run from them.

Looking Back

It was almost seven years later that I woke up one morning and the first thought on my mind was, “hard pressed but not destroyed”. I was pastoring a local church at the time while also providing leadership on a larger scale. I was encountering significant challenges on a number of fronts hence the initial wake up thought. All of a sudden I realized that I was trained for this very moment many years earlier. Had I not gone through that period of challenging circumstances in business, I would not have been as prepared to handle the current situation I found myself in.

Learning in Waiting

Is your vision seemingly slow in coming? Like the prophet says, “…Wait patiently, for it will surely take place.” And I would also add, while you wait, learn all you can because when it comes, you personally being ready will make all the difference to its success!

Ron Myer

DOVE  USA Apostolic Team Leader


Phases of Church-Planting

Phases of church-planting:


Around 4 years into planting our church I met a well-known minister from Texas who was involved in planting several hundred churches. He told me about the 3 phases of church planting. I adapted some of that insight with my own perspective here. Understand that this is not set in stone but I found it as a helpful guide in managing expectations. I truly also believe that coaching and mentoring can cut the time frame of these phases significantly. These phases only start after the church plant is already initiated.

Phase 1

The first phase of church planting is a period of time where God develops the primary leader. The first several years of planting a church, the primary leader learns a lot about themselves. They learn about their call, how their strengths and weaknesses function in a ministry where they are the primary leader. They learn about how the gifting that God has given them actually works and interacts with others. New ideas are tried and some work and stick.


Many people can come and go in the new church plant. Some are drawn by the fact that many times a new church plant is smaller and there is more specialized attention and focus on their needs being met.


Phase 2

The next phase can range from a couple months to a couple year period where the ministry team begins to really develop and solidify around the primary leader’s vision and way of working. The ministry team, even if they were present from the beginning, can go through a development process as initial expectations are clarified and adjusted. New team members may also come on board in this phase.


Many times how the team functions together is clarified and refined in this process. New and clearer ways of communication are developed. The vision of the primary leader is sharpened and refined by the gifting, focus, and commitment of other team members. Communication, preferences and ways of functioning together are further defined and developed. Unmet expectations, inter-personal challenges and frustrations are brought to light and resolved. This creates a more empowered team and team environment.

This phase is where the team members also discover how their strengths and weaknesses work together with one another as well as with the primary leader. The team begins to function as a well-oiled mechanism as everyone begins to work in his or her strengths and calling. Everyone is not only “on the bus” but they are in the “right seats”. The church begins to really benefit from a cohesive team working together in their callings.


Phase 3

The next phase is really where the church itself begins to develop and grow. The vision begins to be accomplished through the buy-in of church members. Members receive safety from observing a well-functioning team that honors each other and works well together. Members receive wisdom and vision from what God is speaking to and through the leaders. New members are added and stay. More teams are developed that are focused on accomplishing new vision and God-given specific objectives.


These 3 phases are not comprehensive but more representative of what a church-plant and leaders go through in the process. Knowing them can help manage expectations and serve as a guide to understanding what is transpiring in a church plant environment. It is good to note that many times phases can overlap. I heard about these 3 phases when I was 4 years into planting our church. I was told that church planting takes 10 years. However, I believe that the learning curves for each phase can be shortened by training and good mentorship. Good external relationships are imperative to stay healthy as a church planter and to have a healthy church plant. Having others help to identify and walk with your through these phases can be a huge blessing.

  • Merle Shenk

– Merle Shenk serves on the DOVE International apostolic council and is the associate pastor at Newport Church

Do we need more churches?

Do we need more churches?

I have heard it said hundreds of times: “We do not need more churches in our community. We have enough churches already.” I disagree.

We cannot fulfill the Great Commission without planting churches. We need new churches! Jesus, when He ascended into heaven two thousand years ago, left a spiritual family of 120 believers in an upper room. That number multiplied into millions of believers who planted churches throughout the world. By planting new churches, we continue what Jesus started. And just as every person is created unique and special to God, new churches are needed to provide new spiritual families for those who do not fit into our present churches.


Here is second reason why we need new churches: A research study by Fuller Theological Seminary found that if a church is ten or more years old, only one person will be led to Christ for every 85 people in the congregation. If the church is between four and seven years old, one person is led to Christ for every seven members, but if a church is less than three years old, one person is led to Christ for every three members! That is why I concur with the late Dr. C. Peter Wagner, who has said again and again, “the single most effective way to evangelize is to plant new churches.”


Larry Kreider

 – Larry Kreider serves as International Director of DOVE International