Who can participate in the Incubator program?
The Urban Church Planting Incubator is designed specifically for lead planters of new churches in the New York City area who have either planted a church in the past 12 months or plan to plant in the next 12 months. We focus on the needs and challenges inherent to urban church planting so that you can develop the ministry and leadership skills needed to begin city-serving congregations.
Is the Incubator currently available outside New York City?
Yes, the Incubator is currently available in Miami and select cities worldwide through City to City and affiliated networks. However, the details of the program differ in each city. You may also consider taking a training course through City to City Learning.
What does the Incubator program involve?
The Incubator consists of training sessions (learning modules), reading assignments and practical projects. We also require that you meet regularly with a certified urban church planting coach.
When are training sessions held?
New Incubator cadres (learning cohorts) begin the program in September and January. Sessions are held once a month from 9am - 4pm, lunch included. In addition to orientation, there are 16 sessions over the two-year program, or eight sessions per year.
Where is Incubator held?
Training sessions are held at Redeemer City to City offices in midtown Manhattan.
How many participants are in each cadre of the Incubator?
There are typically 10-15 participants in each cadre.
How much does the program cost?
There is an annual fee of $200 per participant for access to City to City’s online learning platform. This platform enriches the experience of the program by allowing participants to easily access reading materials, share insights and questions with each other, and receive feedback from instructors. City to City covers all other costs associated with the program.
How are training sessions structured?
Each training session is preceded by readings, reflection, and field work to prepare you for discussion, application and practice during the session. (There is little emphasis on lecture.) Ideally, each learning module is followed by a meeting with a cadre of peers and/or a coach to discuss the covered material and plot out next steps.
Each session contains three primary elements:
- Gospel community building. This involves: a) a time for planters to get to know each other and bring the problems they face to the learning community for support and counsel; b) gospel dynamics addressing the practicalities of gospel living, and c) kingdom-centered prayer with and for one another.
- Theologically informed thinking. Research has indicated that a key competency for church planters and pastors is “reflective practice” (some call this ortho-praxis), which is the ability to apply the insights of theology and the social sciences to the everyday concerns of ministry life.
- New skill training. Each session is designed to strengthen the core competencies required for church planting.
1: Gospel Theology: Understanding the Gospel
This module focuses on understanding how the work of Jesus Christ changes everything we are and do, as individuals, as a community, and as ministers of God’s grace, as opposed to “just trying harder” to apply biblical principles to my life. Though the gospel is the life-giving message of redemption that we always preach, as well as the dynamic that causes on-going redemption in our lives and communities, few pastors understand how to consistently apply it to their life and work.
2: Personal Life of the Leader
Though we endeavor to care for the church planter’s personal life every time we meet, this module gives the topic special treatment. The effective leader knows how to do self-leadership and self-care before he or she leads others. This module focuses on the character of the leader as well as understanding your unique leadership style so you can manage yourself and others in order to more-effectively engage in the work of the kingdom of Christ.
3: Culture and Contextualization
This module focuses on understanding the unique globalized, urban context in which we live and how that understanding can help us communicate and develop ministry forms which are meaningful to the people we are reaching. Far from ‘capitulating’ to culture or ‘watering down’ the gospel, contextualization aims to make Christ alive and dynamic in the given situation where you are planting your church.
4: Evangelistic Networking
This module aims to help learners develop the skill of consistently and winsomely presenting Christ to others in a host of new situations, so that communicating Christ becomes an integral part of the culture of the new church. Emphasis is placed on developing “evangelistic pathways” and networks of relationships which boot off of a culture of hospitality in the new church as well as how to think about evangelistic events, process evangelism and the training of others in your church.
5: Missional Ecclesiology
There is a lot of talk today about “being missional”. Practically, what does that mean for a new church? This module helps participants understand the unique characteristics of ministry in the global city and helps them develop a balanced, missional culture in their church so that the good news of Jesus is expressed in every element of church life and reaches out in holistic ministry.
6: Grace Renewal: Experiencing the Gospel
It’s not enough just to understand the gospel; we need to be constantly experiencing the renewing work of Jesus Christ, making us new and sending us as people in his redemptive mission. This module helps participants experience gospel renewal through sharing, case studies, guided prayer and learning activities, centered around the twin truths of repentance from the reality of indwelling sin (idolatry) as well as joyfully resting in the Father’s adoptive love.
7: Discipleship-Leadership Development
Learners will develop skill in understanding how people change through the application of grace and truth (instead of the more common practice of religious moralism) as well as how to develop programs for spiritual formation and leadership development. They will jointly participate in actually developing one program of leader formation that they can use in their new church.
8: Kingdom-Centered Prayer
The heart of the ministry of Christ’s kingdom is expressed in prayer. Since the Holy Spirit is the indispensable agent of any true ministry, the church is called to express it’s life, and do it’s work, through the agency of prayer. Through prayer the gospel renews us, we learn more deeply of God’s priorities and we receive new empowerment for what he is sending us to do. These kingdom concerns are reflected in the model prayer of Jesus. This module trains church planters in kingdom prayer by practicing it.
9: Leading the Church with the Right People
The effective church planter knows they cannot plant a church by themselves. Instead, they become leaders and pastors of gifted Christians who do the work of ministry. Thus it’s important for church planters to know how to assess people’s strengths and weaknesses and how to develop systems of relational training and oversight that guide people to their place of most effective ministry.
10: Leading the Church through Others
Effective church planters know the value of ministry teams—most of the work in a new church is accomplished through a “willing few”. This module addresses the specific skill set of recruiting, developing and directing teams that build the church and that reach out in service and evangelism.
11: Gospel Preaching: Finding and Proclaiming Christ (1 of 2)
This hands-on preaching practicum aids participants in finding Christ in every text of Scripture and in developing the confidence that beholding Christ in the gospel is what transforms us. Participants analyze model sermons, as well as their own, and practice constructing gospel-based sermons that make Christ the resolution of the problems which affect our urban, and many times, skeptical listeners.
12: Gospel Preaching: Applying Christ to the Heart (2 of 2)
This module is a hands-on practicum that helps learners develop the skill of “applying Christ” to listeners’ hearts and minds so that they change in a biblical way, instead of through resorting to moralistic or ‘feel-good’ applications of Scripture. Issues such as “growth in communication skills”, “finding your voice”, “how to study” and other practical matters of homiletics are addressed.
13: Leading the Church through Difficulty
In this module, church planters practice how to understand the conflict and differences of perspective that so commonly disrupts the life of young congregations and how to bring truthful and powerful communication skills to the people they work with. Time is given to practicing how to have a gracious and wise “difficult conversation” with a person with whom you need to interact.
14: Corporate Renewal Dynamics
Every few years we recognize our need for renewal: physically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually. But we learn that we need more than personal renewal. Churches need renewal as well. This module equips participants in the continuous spiritual renewal of their congregation by understanding the theology and relational dynamics of renewal, as well as the practical ministry issues involved in effectively planning for and bringing renewal into the life of the congregation.
15: Leading your Church to the Next Level
This module helps learners focus on specific growth obstacles and opportunities in order for the church to mature to “the next level” of ministry fruitfulness. Attention is given to personalizing a plan as well as how to engage in strategic planning for sustaining ministry effectiveness.
16: Leadership through the Organization
This module helps learners develop the skills and understanding needed to manage vision and purpose in a growing church so that it keeps focused on what it’s supposed to be and do and achieves long-term fruitfulness. Time is given to developing purpose and mission statements, facing long-term challenges as well as developing personalized strategies for leadership in the new church.
What are the required reading and learning assignments?
Incubator participants should expect to devote a significant amount of time each month to preparation for the next class session. Reading assignments include:
White papers/articles (accessible through CTC’s online learning platform)
Selections from Center Church (Tim Keller)
In addition to reading, participants will be required to complete practical ministry projects for each learning module.
What is expected of participants?
This program will require a high commitment level in order to get the most out of it. In return, you will have trainers and a cohort of peers who will support you in your church planting journey.
Before you proceed with the application process, please review the expectations below to determine whether the program is right for you.
- You plan to plant or are already planting/replanting a new congregation/parish in the greater NYC area. You will make every effort to bring this church planting project to fruition.
- If you are not already part of a church planting network or denomination, you will explore possibilities for affiliation and evaluate those opportunities in conjunction with your coach (see #6).
- You will take the initiative in regularly updating the Incubator facilitators on the status of your church planting project and all related activities. At any time during the program, if you are unable to continue with this church planting project or if you engage in conduct unbecoming a minister of the gospel (e.g. moral issues), you will inform the facilitators immediately.
- You will complete all of the assigned pre-reading and practical projects before arriving at each session.
- You will attend each of the monthly Incubator sessions in their entirety. A detailed program calendar will be provided after admission into the program, and you will need to plan ahead to avoid conflicts with the dates provided. Each session will run from 9am to 4pm. More than two absences from these sessions will be grounds for dismissal for the program even if you give advance notice that you will be absent.
- You will secure a coach who is able to help you apply the principles that you are learning in the Incubator modules as you plant your church. If needed, CTC will help you find a qualified coach.
- You will encourage your spouse to actively participate in a support network for wives of church planters. (We highly recommend Parakaleo ministries.)
Tell me about the application process.
Candidates fill out an inquiry form to tell us more about their background and plans to start a church.
CTC schedules a call with the candidate to determine next steps, which may include any or all of the following:
Submitting a sermon
Church planting assessment
CTC sends the candidate an application.
Within two weeks, the candidate completes the application and assessment (if applicable) and returns it to CTC.
CTC communicates the admission decision and next steps to the candidate.
What are the application deadlines? When are acceptance decisions communicated?
June 15: Final deadline for candidates to return their applications for September cadre. Generally, candidates will be informed of the admission decision at least one month prior to the start date.
I still have questions. Can I talk with someone from the City to City team about this?
If you still have questions after reading the program description in its entirety, please send us an email, and we’ll do our best to clear up any lingering questions.
Fill out this form if you're interested in joining the Incubator.