Church planting is an intentional strategy for expanding God’s Kingdom by establishing new local churches for the purpose of engaging the culture with the gospel to make disciples. Who could argue with this biblical model? Unfortunately, arguing about church planting is what has been done for too long. The arguments tend to circle back to the same question: Why do we need new churches?
- Georgia – 1 church for every 2,726 persons
- Mississippi – 1 church for every 1,395 persons
- Kentucky – 1 church for every 1,708 persons
- New Jersey – 1 church for every 75,124 persons
- New York – 1 church for every 57,900 persons
- Maine – 1 church for every 63,247 persons
- Montana – 1 church for every 7,673 persons
- Utah – 1 church for every 36,606 persons
- Californial – 1 church for every 16,540 persons
- Canada – 1 church for every 117,925 persons
Even if every person in every state decided to go to church next Sunday, there are not enough seats in the existing churches to accommodate the crowds. This would be the best case scenario. Worst case scenario is that we keep doing what we have been doing while expecting the trends to change course. Thankfully, the conversations in recent years has been less combative and more cooperative about how we as local churches can cooperate for the purpose of planting more and different churches for the fulfillment of the Great Commission. As a pastor of a local church, I have the responsibility and privilege of leading my church to be a part of this exciting Kingdom endeavor.
I would direct you to the North American Mission Board if you want to know where to get started in planting a church. The purpose of this post is to share my personal insights as a pastor about how our local church has embraced church planting as part of our church’s mission and vision.
There seems to be only one real reason for a local church to embrace church planting as part of its mission and vision … the propagation of the gospel for the purpose of making disciples. Yet, there seem to be two primary obstacles that a pastor and church must overcome to embrace church planting.
- Pride – If we are not careful, we can become so busy in the local church with our own agenda. We want to implement new ministry programs and initiatives. We want to enhance our local church’s facilities and resources. The challenge becomes not substituting our kingdom for His Kingdom.
- Fear – As a pastor, we can become paralyzed in our leadership by fear that our congregation will not buy in and embrace a church planting focus. Church planting must be initiated from the pastor and the pastor is going to have to carry the banner for mission trips, church planting funds and accountability to make sure church planting does not become sacrificed for other programs.
As a pastor, I share the following steps as some simple acts that a pastor and church can take to get moving forward in the area of being a church planting church.
- Decide that you are going to do it. Unless church planting becomes a determined priority it will never become part of what the church does. The pastor must decide that he is going to lead his church to help plant new churches.
- Talk about it regularly with the church. Through sermons, conversations, leadership meetings, publications and churchwide mission emphases the pastor should engage the church in dialogue about church planting. The more you cast the vision for the need of church planting the more likely the church is to embrace it and own it.
- Start sending mission teams to work with church planters. Often times, the reason our church members do not embrace missions is because they have not been personally connected with the mission and with missionaries. Pick a city, any city, and find a church planter that you can send a mission team to help serve. Which city is not as important as getting involved. You will find that there are people in your church who will go on the mission trip and their heart will be captured for the people they serve and for the church planter. He will become a ministry “hero” and your people will develop relationships with him and his church that will compel them to want to keep going back.
- Participate in North American missions offerings. As a Southern Baptist church, we cooperate with other Southern Baptists in the work of missions. We do this primarily through the Cooperative Program and through special missions offerings for international and North American missions. These missions offerings give us built-in opportunities to keep talking about why we do what we do in the area of church planting. Missions means more! More giving. More going. More doing. More sending. When our church members embrace church planting as part of a total missions strategy they will want to be able to do more. Not everyone is physically able to go on mission trips. But everyone is able to participate in missions offerings.
- Start where you can financially. The obstacles of pride and fear tend to revolve around one common issue … money. The reality is that missions and ministry costs money. But any church can get involved with church planting regardless of the amount of money they can commit at first.