by Greg Taylor
July – August, 2006
New Wineskins spoke to Stan Granberg of Kairos: Church Planting Support about how a regional vision for church planting is emerging into a nationwide explosion—talking about this huge vision started as a joke in a presentation, but people are starting to take Stan Granberg seriously . . .
NW: What led you to be involved with Kairos?
Stan Granberg: After serving ten years church planting in Meru, Kenya, my wife, Gena, and I came back to the States where I began teaching at two Christian colleges. I was asking questions about the current state of Churches of Christ in America. The numbers showed that we reached our highpoint in about 1985 and have been on a slow decline ever since.
NW Editor’s Note: See a fuller report at www.kairoschurchplanting.org.
Stan Granberg: I was also learning that many of my students were struggling to connect with existing churches. It’s not that these were unhealthy churches, but they were churches that were generationally different from my students.
NW: More personally, though, what led you to church planting in the United States?
Stan Granberg: In October 2002 I spent serious time personally reflecting about my role in the kingdom. I came out of that period of prayer and reflection with the commitment to be a “voice for the lost.” From that point on doors began to open one after another that moved us into the circle of those who were church planting in the United States.
NW: So you helped start Kairos. What is Kairos? What does the word mean?
Stan Granberg: Kairos is the Greek word meaning “the opportune or seasonable time, the decisive epoch waited for, the right time” (Thayers Greek-English Lexicon). We believe today is God’s Kairos, God’s appointed time. The Kairos mission is to recruit, equip and support church multiplication leaders to strategically plant new church planting churches of Christ in order to produce regional church planting movements.
NW: OK, that’s the technical brochure version, but let’s get back to how you and your wife entered this mission. I mean, how does someone come to this apostolic vision of planting hundreds, thousands of churches in America?
Stan Granberg: Gena and I, began to pray about how to begin a church planting focus in our lives here in the Northwest, the most “unchurched” area of the country.
NW: Not crazy about that word, “unchurched,” but we’ve heard Leonard Sweet’s shtick on it a couple of times so it’s pretty knee-jerk at this point, but go on.
Stan Granberg: Right, I understand that we have few good words for people God wants to reach, we often use the term pre-Christian now to remind us that everyone is God’s person, they just do not recognize that yet. . . We prayed over a list of twelve names of people we wanted to talk to about being church planters. Eventually we ended up taking five couples with us to Stadia, a Christian Church facilitator of church planting. We went to their “New Church Strategies Planter Training Lab.” Four of those five couples are now church planters.
NW: So how was Kairos first launched?
Stan Granberg: With four planter couples making serious life commitments (leaving jobs, moving across the country, asking others to commit to becoming part of leadership teams for new churches) and looking to us for guidance and support, a ministry like Kairos was the logical and heart felt answer. Our inaugural attempt was at the Pepperdine lectureship where we introduced the ministry as Church Planting NorthWest (CPNW). At a Friday morning breakfast that Jerry Rushford let us host I joked to a group of over 50 attendees that CPNW really meant Church Planting Nation Wide. They applauded. I was thinking, “They think I’m serious!” Scott Lambert also challenged me to think more broadly than the Northwest. I went home and the next week we changed our name to Kairos: Church Planting Support. That’s the storyline.
NW: So you cracked a joke and they took you seriously? Scott Lambert’s been known to crack a few jokes at the Pepperdine lectures, but he was seriously calling you to a larger vision, right?
Stan Granberg: Absolutely—and Scott joined Kairos last year! So, with that interesting twist in the story, here’s what has moved me to begin Kairos. First, I want to give my life efforts to bringing God’s lost people into the kingdom. The most effective way I can do that now is to help church planters be as successful as possible in starting new congregations that reach new believers. Second, I’m committed to our heritage in Churches of Christ; I believe God is not done with us yet and that our particular strengths, our deep desire to be obedient to God and our love for the Word, have great value for Christianity in the twenty first century. We want to have a part in helping initiate the third great church planting movement in America within our fellowship’s history. Finally, I’m convinced that the way we can be most effective in planting new churches is to encourage and support good planters and sponsoring churches with good ideas, good people and good support structures. That’s what Kairos does.
NW: What kinds of experiences, failures, successes do you have in church planting and in life that brought you to this mission of equipping and training church planters?
Stan Granberg: I’ve always been an evangelist, even in middle school and high school I was talking with friends, classmates and even visitors at church about their faith commitments to Jesus. After graduating from Harding Graduate School of Religion my family and I moved to Meru, Kenya where we were involved in church planting, leadership training and development activities. We left with about forty well established churches and sixteen hundred baptized believers, a Meru training center that continues to offer monthly courses, and a number of Kenyan elders and effective church leaders who continue to lead and grow the Meru church.
NW: Wow. Some would say the Spirit is moving in places like Africa more than the United States. And it’s great you can bring that experience, what you’ve seen and heard, back to churches in the United States.
Stan Granberg: Yes, that mission field experience was an incredible blessing, and yes church planting is moving at a rate much higher in Africa than in the United States—part of the reason we need to reimagine what God can do here. The missionaries in Kenya during those years, 1983-1993, were an amazing group of people: committed to loving our Kenyan brothers and sisters, willing to live—and die—among them, and they were extremely creative in their approaches to continuing to open the gospel up in that part of the world.
NW: So you’ve brought back some of that creativity and those approaches to your church planting vision here.
Stan Granberg: Yes, our church planting work seemed overwas at a low ebb in the United States, but I continued to teach and do research in church growth related areas. I was galvanized again by a presentation by Dean Pense of the Independent Christian Churches at a Restoration Unity Forum in Portland. Dean spoke of the church planting work of the Northern California Evangelistic Association (NCEA) in Vacaville, California. They had started over sixty new churches in that area with an average membership of almost three hundred! As he described their system of assessment, training and on-going coaching of their church planters I thought, “If I were ever to do something like this, this is the way it ought to be done.” Our relationship with the NCEA group grew from that point. Gena and I were welcomed first at one of their assessments as part of the interview team. We attended several planter training labs and a director’s lab for people who would be directing similar church planting ministries. During those years NCEA morphed into Stadia: New Church Strategies. The Stadia crew continues to be gracious and encouraging to us as we bring our own background and resources to this church planting effort.
NW: Tell us about some of the teams you are training, particular people and their stories.
Stan Granberg: Phil and Meredith McCollum have ministered for the past nine years with the Culver Palms and Hollywood Churches of Christ in Los Angeles. Their passion is for the inner-city, working class people—many are Latino. I don’t know any couple better prepared—they’ve given so much time in ministry to their target group. This fall Phil and Meredith will be moving to East Hollywood with co-workers Ed and Katie Magos to begin a network of house churches. The idea of smaller groups of Christians meeting in local homes, but who share resources and leadership among multiple home groups fits this context and culture of East Hollywood. The Meredith’s McCollums will be sponsored and partially in this work by the Westside Church of Christ in Bakersfield, California.
Ron and Lori Clark are preparing to plant a new church in Portland, Oregon. Ron is another an adult convert to Christ through a campus ministry in Missouri. After preaching for eight years in Missouri and completing a master’s and later a doctoratedegree at Harding Graduate School Ron and Lori moved to Portland where Ron has been the pulpit minister at the Metro Church of Christ. During this time the Clarks helped revive Clergy and Domestic Abuse and Violence training in the Portland area. Ron speaks nationally on how ministers can effectively deal with domestic violence. They will continue to use this as one of their evangelistic outreaches in their church plant. The Clarks are sponsored in this work by the Park Plaza Church of Christ in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
NW Editor’s Note: See Ron Clark’s article on church planting in this issue.
NW: Tell us about some of the other church plants already in the ground.
Stan Granberg: We helped launch two church plants in 2005: the Renovatus church of Christ in Vancouver, Washington and the Cascade Hills church of Christ in Salem, Oregon.
Renovatus – Kevin and Brenda Woods are the lead church planters at Renovatus. Kevin has been one of the leading youth ministers on the west coast for the past twenty-four years, serving the last fourteen years for the Vancouver Church of Christ, Vancouver, Washington. One of the memorable events in Kevin’s transition was one evening at an elders’ meeting when Kevin came with a list of over one hundred twenty names, people who were at one time in the youth group but who, after graduation, left their faith commitment. For various reasons, these young people did not connect to the larger fellowship. Kevin said, “I’m going back out to find these people again.” And he has. Renovatus is reaching many people in their late twenties and thirties who have not found a home in the established churches. We call these people “dechurched.” They’re giving faith, God and the Christian life one more try—and they are finding a home at Renovatus.
Renovatus would best be described as an emerging church. The worship services are informal, very interactive with multiple ways that the members engage in the service.
Cascade Hills – Jason and Melissa Campbell are the lead church planters at Cascade Hills and work with their teammates Dwayne and Julie Hilty. Cascade Hills is reaching strongly into the unchurched population of Salem. All four of these couples became Christians during their college years through the ministry of the Circle Church of Christ’s campus ministry at Oregon State University. The Campbell’s and Hilty’s understand the unchurched mindset and lifestyle. They are natural connectors with unchurched people and growing a harvest from those ranks.
Next year Dwayne and Julie will change their role from more of an associate ministry to that of lead church planters. In essence, they will be a daughter church arising out of the Cascade Hills church.
NW: How do you prepare teams? What are the major areas of concern that you lead them through?
Stan Granberg: We believe that people will be most successful in starting new churches when they are confidently prepared. Our website (www.kairoschurchplanting.org) has a self-assessment that we encourage people to take. This assessment walks them through some of the essential skills and foundations that successful church planters tend to demonstrate. After they send us their self-assessment we’ll meet with them or have phone conversations to talk through their ideas, dreams and backgrounds. If at that point everyone feels this person or couple should pursue church planting Kairos will invite them to attend a Discovery Lab for assessment. The Discovery Lab is a 4 day, in-depth, interview process. Prior to the Lab the couple will complete an application that was initially developed by Missions Resource Network and that we are adapting with them for use in domestic church planting. They will also take a marriage, a personality and a leadership inventory. The results of the Discovery Lab might be, “You’re ready, let’s go,” or “You need toshould pursue church planting but here’s an area or two that need some attention first,” or “No, being a lead church planter is not your best fit, but here’s where your skills and experience do fit well for the kingdom.” We consider all these results successful, anytime a person can walk away with a clearer conception of where they can be most successful fruitful for the kingdom it is a good thing.
NW: What comes after the Discovery Lab?
Stan Granberg: After Discovery Lab a couple will receive a number of books to read and they’ll get ready for Strategy Lab. Strategy Lab is where they’ll spend five days preparing an initial ministry plan, a “how we’ll get from here to the beginning of the church” document. We spend a lot of time thinking through the process of planting a new church, what kinds of decisions will need to be made, reflecting on biblical themes and teachings and how to apply those among a new community of believers. It’s in the Strategy Lab that these preparing planters get their “ahah moments” where they see this new church coming into focus in their hearts and minds.
The basic model we have chosen to use is to put our efforts with Kairos into a full-time lead church planter (or couple), who then gather around them a small team of eight to ten Christians who will form the core of the new church but work vocationally. The planter leads this team into the target community where they’ll begin evangelizing and starting home groups which will ultimately form into a congregational style church. There are other models of church planting being used successfully, and we see some house church plants already on the horizon, but the congregational model seems the most appropriate for us and the current American context.
Once a planter couple goes through Strategy Lab they get coaching and spiritual mentoring. Larry Deal, our Director of Planter Care, is our coaching specialist. He has weekly conversations with our planters, talking with them about their goals, plans, problem-solving, talking through new ideas. We also work with spiritual mentors who keep contact with the planters on their spiritual growth, their health, their marriages and make sure they have constant prayer support.
By the year 2016 Kairos will have:
b. planted 100 churches of Christ with over 22,000 attendees.
c. energized a church multiplication ministry that has generated church multiplication in multiple areas of the US and the world.
The initial idea was to focus on church planting in the Northwest United States. The name Church Planting Northwest (CPNW) was used at the 2004 Pepperdine Bible Lectureship to identify this focus. The church planting concept generated such interest from across the country that we changed our name to Kairos: Church Planting Support, to identify our work as supporting church planting for church planters and local congregations.
The Kairos mission is accomplished by providing church planters with assessment, training, ongoing support through coaches and spiritual mentors and administrative help with tax, incorporation and other organizational needs. We currently have church plants in Vancouver, WA and Salem, OR, launched in 2005. We will launch two new plants in 2006 in Los Angeles, CA and Portland, OR.
Kairos works under the oversight of the Southwest Church of Christ in Jonesboro, Arkansas. In October 2004 the Southwest church designated $1 million towards church planting and ministry training. Southwest funds the salary for Stan Granberg, the executive director, and a monthly work fund for Kairos. Southwest also serves as the primary accountability church for Kairos as the elders oversee the executive director and financial operations. Scott Lambert is our SoCal Network Director working through the Hilltop Church of Christ in LA. Larry Deal, a former minister of the Southwest church in Jonesboro, AR works as Director of Planter Care. Larry is currently looking for an overseeing, supporting congregation.
Kairos uses funds to finance the training, support and other benefits for church planting couples. Church planting couples raise their support as domestic missionaries, working under the sponsoring oversight of a local church. A financial base for the ministry is being built from individual supporters, partner churches and a mission tithe from our new church plants.
Dr. Stanley Granberg, Executive Director of Kairos, most recently completed a coaching certification course through Bob Logan’s CoachNet that was sponsored by Church Coaching Solutions who are associated with Stadia East. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Granberg is a graduate of Harding University (BA), Harding Graduate School of Religion (MTh), Fuller Theological Seminary’s School of World Mission (ThM) the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies (PhD). Stan married Gena (Catterton), who shares his passion for lost people through their Kairos partnership. Their four children (Erik and Lisa Granberg, Danny and Katie Reese, Joshua Granberg and Jared and Laura King) are all pursuing ministry in various forms, stateside or in cross-cultural missions.
In addition to his work with Kairos, Dr. Granberg is on the faculty of the Harding University Graduate School of Religion where he teaches church planting, domestic evangelism and missions courses. He has also served on the faculties of Lubbock Christian University and Cascade College and taught adjunct for Pepperdine University. His church involvement includes serving as a deacon at the South Plains Church of Christ, Lubbock, TX and as a deacon and elder at the Vancouver Church of Christ, Vancouver, WA.