Reshaping the Church

The V3 Movement: Planting leaders

Posted December 11, 2023

by Bob Simon

Photo by JR Woodward

There is so much that goes into church planting before it is actually planted. Leadership needs to be built up and trained to their best abilities. The V3 Movement works to do exactly this.

As a national church movement, their mission is to coach local church planters while providing a network where they can continue their training, according to their website. With a vision cast by the word of God, they develop appropriate training for Christian leaders. Though the V3 Movement started as a local initiative in Virginia ten years ago, today they have become an international movement.

In 2013, JR Woodward was called to lead the organization after 20 years of planting churches and coaching leaders, according to V3. He is now the national director of the organization.

“The V3 Movement has already trained 600 church planters around the world during the last 10 years, and we plan to train 600 more in the next five years,” Woodward said.

As the body of Christ faces new challenges, this organization initiates a new approach concerning leadership.

“To participate in the V3 Movement training, the first step is to go through an interview, where we describe the appropriate training with the church leader,” Woodward said. “Next, we make sure it's something the applicant wants to do; that's why we don’t do something everybody wants to do.”

Through its programs, the V3 Movement gives church planters training, new tactics and global perspectives. Following their educational orientation, the V3 Movement also allows applicants to choose their training from its programs or elsewhere. “Our method helps us to keep our doors open to all denominations,” Woodward said.

The V3 Movement is an ecumenical movement because they promote unity among Christians, according to the organization’s website. With this mission, they provide help to all denominations. As a former church planter, Woodward said when confronting theological variety, they try to have unity in the essentials and liberty in the non-essentials.

In 2013, the General Association of Virginia launched the V3 Movement, which engages with church leaders to overcome a “major season of upheaval,” according to the organization’s website. For example, there is a lack of intergenerational relationships with the church, poor discipleship models and difficulties in reaching younger audiences, according to a report by Barna Group.

Woodward also identified a few common concerns that hurt local churches. He points to intergenerational concerns as an example.

“There is no major denomination where the majority are under 45 years old, so every denomination is missing the younger generation,” Woodward said.

If churches face a lack of younger generations, Woodward said he encourages church leaders to bring the Church to the younger people. It is time to stand, step out of the building and walk around their neighborhood to meet people where they are at.

“The V3 Movement helps all current denominations by providing appropriate training regarding current local church concerns,” Woodward said. “The organization’s network has grown to reach church planters internationally.”

The V3 Movement helps in many places around the world, including Africa, Asia and North America, but primarily focuses their efforts on North America, Woodward said.

Woodward also points to issues like the rise of Christian nationalism, climate change effects, the Russian invasion, the threat of nuclear war and the Israel-Palestine war. All these events impact the Church, he said.

“We are living in a time of resignation that also affects the church,” Woodward said. “Besides the resignation, the pandemic impacted the Christian community by increasing the number of church closures.”

With a better approach to leadership, the Church can overcome its current concerns, Woodward said.

“Instead of making space for community missions and becoming like Jesus together, we have settled for once a week, even as our primary mode,” Woodward said. “I think we need to redesign the structure of the former church that we have inherited.”

Photo by JR Woodward

With more appropriate training, new leaders can emerge and then improve the actual structure of their church, Woodward explained.

“The church is not the physical construction, but us,” Woodward said.

The V3 Movement remains positive, approaching the current church concerns with confidence. Their mission is expressed even in their emblem.

The three “V’s” stand for vision, voice and viral, which represent a “hopeful vision for the in-breaking Kingdom of God in our local places, learning our unique voice within the 5-Fold ministry of Jesus and developing practices for being a viral movement church,” according to the organization's website.

The V3 Movement wants to show how the gospel is relevant to everyone, Woodward said. That desire incorporates the organization’s brand and distinguishes its training from others’ teaching.

“We don't privatize or reduce the gospel to just the relationship with God and us,” Woodward said. “The gospel has to be relevant to the world's problems around us, such as poverty, racism, sexism and excessive violence.”

Photo by JR Woodward

Regarding the fall, Woodward said the fall between us and God is theological, the fall that exists between each other is sociological, the fall within us is psychological and the one between humans and creation is ecological.

“For us, the good news is that the comprehensive divisions are all to be reconciled through Christ,” Woodward said.

Planters and practitioners of the V3 Movement develop a locally-rooted presence in every city, so chances are you can meet one of them in your neighborhood. Visit their website to learn more about the V3 Movement’s mission.