Church Planting Lessons: Blog
When it comes to baseball fans you have some distinct categories.  There are the “everyday” fans like myself who check scores online and may attend a game or two. Then you have the fans that “Love the game”.  “Love the game” fans are passionate about their favorite teams and have an in depth understanding of their favorite team’s “Farm System”.
Simply put, “Farm System” refers to a network of minor league baseball teams that pro teams use to develop new players.  A pro team might have 4 or 5 “affiliated” minor league teams whose entire purpose is to help develop young players and prepare them to succeed in the Big Leagues.
I think there is something extremely important about leadership development that church planters can learn from professional baseball teams.  For me, the direct application was to learn how to effectively utilize my particular denomination’s “Farm System”.
The North American Mission Board (NAMB) is the national church-planting arm of the Southern Baptist Convention.   NAMB has identified that one of the biggest needs we have as a denomination is to develop more qualified church planters.  In response to that need NAMB has created a church planting “Farm System” with three levels of development: Student Missionary, Intern, & Apprentice.  You can find an in-depth description of those position here.
A few months ago Dustin became our first “Farm System” staff member and it’s been a joy for me to work with him.  It reminds me of when I was in my young 20’s and a college pastor took a risk and started to pour his life into me.  My hope is to have the same kind of multiplying impact on Dustin as my college pastor had on me.
At times I’ve learned about leadership development the hard way; perhaps you can relate to my temptation to “micro-manage” others.  One of the most important things I learned while serving on staff at The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham is that a church will either develop a culture of volunteers or a culture of leaders.  J.D. Greear, the lead pastor at the Summit, advocates an 80/20 rule.  Basically, if someone can do something 80% as well as you can then you should let them do it and not comment on it.
Maybe you’d like to develop more leaders but you aren’t sure how to get started; a great first step is to investigate what options are available to you within your denomination.  We’re excited to partner with NAMB in developing the next generation of church planters and I’d encourage you to consider doing the same because every “Love of the Game” baseball fan knows that the most successful franchises have the most developed Farm Systems.

Brad O’Brien (@bradobrien) is the lead pastor of Redeemer City Church in Baltimore, MD. To learn more about Redeemer City visit