Equipping Church Planters: Why Aspen Partners With NewThing
Since 2014, Aspen Group has supported and partnered with NewThing, a dynamic and growing movement for church planters. NewThing helps leaders, churches, and church planters plant healthy reproducing churches to achieve the Jesus Mission in Acts 1:8, to be his witnesses “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
“We believe that church planting, and more specifically NewThing, is one of the mechanisms for innovation and reinventing the church for another generation,” says Ed Bahler, CEO for Aspen Group.
NewThing fulfills its mission to be a catalyst for movements of multiplying churches by building into four main areas:
At the core of NewThing are friendships, accountability, and networking. NewThing lead pastors gather into networks. Consisting of a group of three to six churches, each network is led by a NewThing pastor. These networks connect monthly via phone and are conversationally structured around principles of reproducing ministry. Within this coaching structure, churches multiply.
Start a strategy for building and developing a pipeline of leaders.
The heart of NewThing is reproduction–reproducing leaders, artists, groups, teams, campuses, churches, and networks through an intentional apprenticeship model. This was part of Paul’s strategy for the church to accomplish the Jesus Mission (2 Timothy 2:2). Each NewThing church is committed to reproducing at every level of ministry.
As it relates to ministry space, Aspen plays a key role in helping planters think through the kind of facility they’ll need to accomplish the mission and vision God has given them.
“We don't want to help leaders plant a church,” says Patrick O’Connell, global director for NewThing. “We want to help them plant movements of churches. We think that planting movements of churches requires church planters and their teams to ask different questions. We want to help them ask those questions and unpack the answers.”
NewThing provides this type of honest discourse and learning through its leadership residency program. “Leadership residents are people God is calling to something significant for the Kingdom,” says O’Connell. “They are people planning and preparing to launch their own reproducing movement.”
NewThing identifies, coaches, and releases these residents to lead churches or missional communities of impact.
“Aspen shares NewThing’s value of investing in the future church—paying it forward for our kids and grandkids,” says Bahler. “Raising up and equipping future leaders is a primary way we can leave the church, our communities, and the country better than we found it.”
At NewThing, churches share their collective knowledge, experience, creativity, and resources with each other to achieve the Jesus Mission. “From message transcripts to videos to training ideas, the availability of these resources help free up staff time to be able to continue to relationally drive the reproducing church faster and more effectively,” says O’Connell.
Aspen shares NewThing’s desire to create meaningful knowledge to help the church. Aspen has been investing in research and learning events with pastors, ministry leaders, and church industry experts since 2004.
“The research we do provides insight into how culture, leadership, ministry, and facilities affect and shape the church,” says Bahler.
“We invest in relevant, trustworthy knowledge so that we’re equipped to speak into churches and offer solutions to the challenges they face. Because of the research Aspen has been involved in, we can provide value to NewThing churches as they grapple with issues related to planting and multiplying.”
Conversely, Aspen’s relationship with NewThing represents a critical ministry R&D effort. “We want to ensure we’re learning to speak the language of reproducing churches,” Bahler says. "By rubbing shoulders with church planters and leaders of multiplying churches, we're gaining a better sense of the unique challenges they face, especially as it relates to facilities and ministry space."
The Future of NewThing
By the end of 2019, NewThing helped plant 855 new churches, and they helped create 43 movements and 185 networks worldwide in 44 countries, and they've been praying and planning on what it would look to get into all 195 countries in the world!
“We believe in the men and women behind NewThing, and we’re confident they are seeking God’s will in it all,” says Bahler. “Aspen’s grateful to be part of what God is doing in and through NewThing.”