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I’ve been a Calvary Chapel pastor for over 30 years, a Calvary church planter for over 25 years, a disciple of Pastor Chuck Smith, and have previously helped lead a global church planting initiative for Calvary Chapel. I mention this to qualify a somewhat distinct perspective and to provide context for why I’m excited about Cultivate. Preliminarily, we are creating the infrastructure to support 1,000 church plants in the next ten years. So, to help you to appreciate why church planters, and their teams, should plant with Cultivate, here are five reasons:

1. It’s Calvary Chapel and CGN:

Calvary Chapel has a rich history as a church planting movement. Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa (CCCM) experienced exponential growth as a pioneer in the Jesus Movement that began in the late 1960s. People were driving great distances to experience Calvary Chapel. Those driving great distances, and those who were listening on the radio to Pastor Chuck, wanted a Calvary Chapel in their community. CCCM was sending out people to meet the requests, and churches were planted in a very organic way.

As CCCM continued to thrive, Pastor Chuck began to create greater infrastructure to support developing leaders and church planters. A Bible College was established, and a School of Ministry was developed to train present and future leaders and support church planting. Pastor Chuck appreciated the work of the Holy Spirit in qualifying planters and the benefits of training to prepare them.

Calvary Global Network (CGN) continues the DNA and values of Calvary Chapel as a family of churches working together to proclaim the gospel, make disciples, and plant churches. We value biblical literacy, missional life and ministry, gospel-centered life and ministry, and kingdom vision.

2. We Help You So You Can Help Others:

Three of the most common obstacles for church planters are: inadequate or improper training, unreasonable expectations, and lack of post-launch support. Here is how we remove those obstacles to church planting:

Adequate and proper training:

Jesus was intentional. Jesus’ style of training His disciples was a rabbinical model that was prevalent in the Galilee. Jesus’ disciples spent the better part of three years learning from Him. They were mentored by their Rabbi. Lessons were taught, lessons were caught, and Jesus made sure they were prepared for the work that God called them to.

I learned valuable lessons from Pastor Chuck. Some were caught. For example, to this day whenever I’m walking around the church campus and I see trash, I pick it up because that’s what Chuck did. Other lessons were taught through his teaching on Sundays and mid-week, his mentorship through the School of Ministry, and his willingness to impart lessons to those who were interested, like me.

Similarly, we believe the best training model is for church planters to be mentored in the context of a healthy local church, by an experienced pastor who has ideally also been a church planter. Depending on the prospective planter’s prior experience, that training is likely to last between six and twenty-four months, and it will be intentional in order to prepare the planter to thrive.

Reasonable expectations: Church planters tend to be entrepreneurial, self-motivated, and impatient. They want to do great things for God, and they want to do them now. Jesus promised to build His Church and has been wonderfully faithful in doing so.

Lifeway Research’s 2020 survey reveals that 65% of Protestant churches in the U.S. have less than 100 gather weekly for worship services. Mid-size churches have 101 to 250 gather and represent about 25%. Churches with more than 250 gathering for worship constitute only 10%.

During the first three months there’s at least monthly care and coaching. During the remaining first year, the care is at least every two months. We encourage a face-to-face visit by a mentor or coach by the end of the first year. During the second year, the care and coaching is at least once a quarter. We want you to be supported as you support others.

3. It’s Practical:

Historically, Calvary Chapel has used a practical rather than an academic approach to prepare church planters. Our mentor-model of training prepared the heart and the hands of the planter to engage in all of the practical aspects of ministry. We’re continuing the legacy of practical training. We also recognize the importance of training the head. Therefore, we include courses through our collaboration with Western Seminary’s Center for Leadership Development (CLD). Each online class has about ten hours of content designed to prepare the planter.

4. It’s Personal:

Every church planter is unique, and our assessment helps to identify and leverage your strengths, and recognize targeted areas for growth. You’ll receive personalized mentoring from an experienced pastor in the context of a local church and coaching from specialists who are called to support church planters.

A church plant in Manhattan, Kansas is likely to be different than a plant in Manhattan, NYC. Similarly, a church plant in the Basque Country (Euskadi) of Spain will be different than Mallorca (Majorca), Spain. Rural, urban, and suburban contexts are nuanced. So, each planter’s training will be personal.

5. It’s Pastoral:

You’ll be nurtured and cared for as you are mentored to pastor others. We’ll make sure that you receive robust theological training, learn to be a more effective Bible teacher, and are equipped to care for God’s people.

We’re a family of churches, and that implies relational connection that’s characterized by genuine care, empathy, compassion, encouragement, and support. We aim to model pastoral care for you so that you’re best equipped to church plant and provide pastoral care to others.

To learn more about Cultivate, visit our website.

Bruce Zachary is the senior pastor at Calvary Nexus in Camarillo, California. Please visit his website( Bruce is also a church planter, having previously directed the Calvary Church Planting Network, a global church planting initiative. Presently Bruce serves on the Core Team of Cultivate.