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Photo by Erin Dunigan

At our recent presbytery gathering the GCT brought the new Mission Plan, endorsed by Council, before the presbytery. After discussion the plan will continue to be refined and will be brought back to the presbytery in May. One of the tools in the proposed Mission Plan is Cyclical. At our recent Open Space we had a chance to learn a bit more about it from Nick Warnes, of the Presbytery of San Fernando.

Nick Warnes is executive director of Cyclical LA, a new endeavor begun within the Presbytery of San Fernando. He is also himself a church planter, so he admits he is ‘biased.’

“There is an increasing ratio of people who are not connected with the church. The church is the hope of the world. The best way to connect people with the Body of Christ is through starting new churches. But I’m biased.”

Biased or not, Warnes and the team within the San Fernando presbytery are excited about the new growth that seems to be blossoming.

Cyclical LA was formed to “further the ongoing lifecycle of starting new churches.” The cycle moves forward as churches identify ‘discerners’ who then become ‘starters’ who then start churches. And the cycle repeats.

As Warnes and others within their presbytery considered planting new churches they began to realize something. “We understood the reality that we could start one church at a time over the course of years,” explained Warnes. “Or we could plant a garden of many different kinds of plants that could grow together.” They chose the garden.

So, what actually is Cyclical? “Cyclical initially helps you train and coach people who are already doing the work of starting new churches,” said Warnes. Often these people have been pushed to the edges as if they are ‘weird’ somehow. “Starting new churches is normal – it should be seen as normal,” Warnes said.

pastor-nick-warren-1Cyclical gives space for those who are thinking about starting new churches – something that Warnes believes is a holy moment that we don’t often pay enough attention to.

“Of course we are grateful for existing churches and we are also continuing to work at redeveloping them,” assures Warnes. “But we also need the next boom of churches, and this feels like an opportunity to give that a try and see if it works.”

“The reality is, if you want to connect new people to the church, it is easier to start a new church than redevelop an existing one,” said Warnes, quoting Dave Olson, author of The American Church in Crisis.

This is what Cyclical hopes to empower new leaders (discerners and starters) to do.

“We can either focus on the individual plants, or we can focus on a garden that can allow so many different things to flourish – we have started a garden and it is now growing all different sorts of things.”