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Why Plant Another Church?

Every church can help plant a church

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My wife, Elena, and I have been in church planting for 25 years. We recently attended the 25-year celebration of the first church we started. It was satisfying to reunite with old friends and see the congregation doing well. The attendees included some of our original team members and some of the church planters we had sent out from that first church. Elena and I stayed at that place of worship for eight years, during which time we sent out two other church-planting teams.

Why Plant Another Church?
A. B. Simpson with an early Alliance church plant

After handing off that church, we planted another one that also reproduced, and we started two church-planting centers that assess, coach, train, and support plants. We have been the ones going and the ones sending and have felt many of the joys, headaches, and heartaches of both scenarios.

The sending side was hardest for me. We did it, and I’m convinced it was right, but it was never easy. As we prepared to send out leaders from our churches, I asked myself some hard questions such as, Why should we help another church when our church has so many needs? Will sending out leaders right now harm our church? And one of the toughest: Why do we have to say good-bye to people we love and in whom we have invested?

Starting a new church raises a variety of questions and concerns. Perhaps you’ve pondered some yourself. Here are my responses to a few of the most common inquiries:

Why plant another church when there are already so many churches?

This is a fair question, and it really comes down to mission. Lots of churches may be in a community, but there are probably many more lost people. If all of our churches were full and had multiple services, they probably couldn’t begin to contain the number of people God asks us to reach. So we absolutely need our current established churches, but we still need many new churches.

Church plants are an effective means of reaching new people. Church-planting teams are often mission-focused and intentional about engaging in a community, connecting with people, and reaching them with the good news.

Why plant another church when our church has so many needs?

This is a great question, and I get it. We started sending out leaders when our churches were young. We didn’t ever seem to have enough leaders, money, staff members, or other resources. The temptation was always to say, “Let’s get involved in church planting when we have enough (fill in the blank).” But what is “enough”?

It’s sort of like feeling ready to be a parent. You never feel totally ready or as though you have enough resources. Yet God has a way of helping and providing when we trust Him.

Won’t planting a church slow us down from growing our own church?

The 2015 National Church Planting Study by Lifeway Research surveyed 843 U.S. church plants (The Alliance was one of the study’s supporting denominations). They found that churches that train and send out leaders actually do better in reaching their own communities and grow faster than churches that don’t. Why? This may be true partly because churches that help new church plants have an outreach mindset that translates to their own church and community. Also, God honors faith-filled risk.

Why send out church planters when our church needs more leaders?

Established churches need leaders, but they need the right kinds of leaders. Ephesians 4 tells us that God calls apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers for building the Body of Christ. Our churches need teachers, shepherds, and more. But new works really need apostolic leaders who are gifted to go.

Why Plant Another Church?
Participants at a church-planting seminar

When God raises a leader with apostolic gifts, the church is obligated to help him identify his gifting and calling and make a pathway for him to eventually go, even though it costs.

Many apostolic leaders may sit in our churches underutilized because they don’t know God has gifted them to launch new works. So they put their gifts into practice by launching businesses, clubs, or other ventures. Nothing is wrong with any of that, but it might be less than God intended.

Can’t we all just stay together as one church?

This question comes straight from the heart. We sent our first full planting team about three years after our first church began. One of the planters on the team had come to faith in our ministry, was on our original launch team, was now on staff with our young church, and was a dear friend. But I knew he was called to go. So I went to his home to help him load the U-Haul that would take him and his family to another town to plant a new church.

I should have been thrilled—our young church was now planting another church! It was part of our compelling vision and something we had all worked hard to achieve. So why was I standing at the back of the truck weeping? Because I was pleased to see him go, and I hated to see him go. I think it always works that way. But I believe that the mission is worth the heartache, and we will someday have lots of time for reunions.

We don’t have much. What could our church do to help a church plant?

There’s a lot you can do. Here are two quick responses:

1. Do something.
You and your church can do so much to help a plant and encourage a planter. Apply one of the “10 Ways to Help a Church Plant” (see left sidebar). As a planter, I have benefitted from almost all of these suggestions, and I have applied all of them as a sender. They work, and they make a difference.

Why Plant Another Church?
Dedication of a new Cambodian Alliance church in Florida

If you need a recommendation of a church to help, please contact your district or Kim Vincent at the National Office (vincentk@cmalliance.org). We’d love to help you help a planter.

2. Plan to send someone.
If God gives you apostles, He plans for you to send them. Whether your church is young, old, large, small, rural, urban, suburban—any church that trains and sends another leader is a “greenhouse” that prepares plants for the field.

We already have many Greenhouse Environments in The Alliance, and we are helping churches structure their pathways to discover, develop, and deploy leaders. If you’d like to participate in one of the Alliance Greenhouse Environment trainings in your region, please contact me (reynoldsd@cmalliance.org), and I will connect you with the appropriate leader.

10 Ways to Help a Church Plant

Prayerfully select a church planter to encourage. If needed, ask your district for suggestions. Then choose a way to help and go for it!

  1. Pray for a planter and his team.
    Intercession is the primary work of God’s people. You and your church can partner in this vital way by encouraging a new plant through prayer.
  2. Treat a planting couple to dinner.
    Planting is difficult and lonely work. The simple act of a gift like this can encourage a planting couple.
  3. Invite a planter to share his vision with your church.
    Consider this option as a great way to encourage church planters and cast vision to your church in the process.
  4. Give a church plant a one-time gift.
    A new church always has material needs such as office supplies, audio/visual equipment, and children’s ministry items. Contact a church planter to ask about current needs.
  5. Hold a “baby shower” for a church plant.
    Give them gifts for their startup. Planters can put together a registry of items they need.
  6. Loan your facility to a church plant.
    Maybe your church has a facility it doesn’t use all of the time. Consider allowing a church plant to have team meetings, events, or services at your facility.
  7. Financially support a plant for a year or more.
    Salaries are rarely stable in church planting. Sacrificial and generous giving from churches and individuals, beyond their regular offerings, is a gesture of Christian unity.
  8. Send people from your church to serve for a season.
    Send people to help a plant for a month or two—or longer.
  9. Partner with other churches to plant a church.
    Our dream at The Alliance is that it will soon be normal—and expected—for churches to collaborate to plant more churches.
  10. Develop and deploy a planter and team from your church.
    Take a risk and plant a church. First identify and train leaders with the purpose of sending them out. Think of Antioch sending Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13.

—Dave Reynolds

 
greenhouse-logo
 

For more information about Alliance church planting, visit www.cmalliance.org/ministries/church-planting.


A Lonely Endeavor

During the annual Southern District Conference in Tennessee in April, my wife, four children, and I had the opportunity to connect with other Alliance pastors. As one of only two church-planter couples at the event, we were amazed at the support we received. After all, connections are what keep a church planter going.

Church planting is a lonely endeavor. We have no structure, no building or meeting place, and no members per se. Starting something new creates a weird tension within a planter, a tension of not really fitting in, of not being a “real” church with all of its pros and cons. A pioneer can feel isolated.

I’m thankful my wife and I have in our Southern District family a network that supports us. One way the district has come alongside us is with two years of coaching for our leaders and me. This coaching includes biannual immersion events, weekly training, and access to a seasoned coach. Two other pastors in our district and I are going through this program thanks to the support of Dr. Reggie Screen, the C&MA’s southeastern regional church-planting coordinator.

Another way the district has supported us is through the backing of our fellow Alliance churches. We have been asked to share about our church plant at District Conference and at local churches. These congregations have also prayed for us. It means so much to my wife and me that our local Alliance churches want to see us excel.

One final way our district has supported us is by being our biggest advocate. It’s incredible to have a district superintendent and area senior pastors vocally support us and stand up for the work we are doing.

I once had the idea that unless something was wrong, we were to function independently. But people have sought us out to encourage us, share good news with us, and sincerely ask, “How are you feeling?”

As a child needs more encouragement until he matures, so does a church plant and planting couple. With our Alliance family by our side, we feel like we are part of something bigger than ourselves and the birthing pains will be worth it.

Luke Camara is the pastor/church planter of Shelby Church Communities (Alliance) in Calera, Ala. E-mail him at lukecamara@gmail.com.

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