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NEED A CHURCH PLANTER?

Praise the Lord that many pastors have a burden and a heart’s desire to reproduce their church by planting new churches. So, you have money, the will, resources, all you need now is a man to plant the church. However, as the question is so often asked, where do we get the man to pastor the new work?
 
I Pray to the Lord of the harvest
 
Luke 10:2

Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.

A pastor was praying for God to provide a church planter for a new work, and one day, a friend came and told him that God had moved him on from his ministry. The friend asked the pastor to pray for him. The pastor then asked him to pray about being the church planter for a church he was burdened to start. Today that friend is now pastoring this new work. God answered prayer!
 
II Use your connections
 
Let it be known that your church is burdened to plant a church in your area and that you are actively seeking a man to pastor this work. Call your pastor friends, colleges, or other connections. If possible, go to a college and share your burden. Many times, there is a young man out there that has a burden for an area but feels it is impossible for him to accomplish what God has for him. By you coming, he could see that there is someone who cares and is willing to come alongside of him.
 
III Intern staff
 
Bring on a staff member with the goal of him starting a church in the future. When you do this, your people will get to know him and his family and will be excited about helping with the new church plant.
Summer internships are also great ways to find a church planter and to create a bond between him and you. Again, the young man will connect with your church.
 
IV Train them up
 
What do we expect missionaries to do on the foreign field? Do we ask them to plant a church, then hope that someone will come along to plant the next one?   We need pastors with a burden to train up some young men through their churches with a heart for church planting. Training could be done through a bible college, Bible institute in your church, or even a mentorship between him and the pastor.   This used to be very common in our circles, but we have gotten away from it. I know this takes time, but if churches across the country would start doing this, we could see God produce a great harvest down the road.
 
We must remember that at the end of the day, it is all in God’s hand and in His timing when a church reproduces itself. Some couples, after they get married, have a hard time having a child. Again, it is in God’s hand whether they have a baby or when. However, the couple will do whatever it takes to have a baby the entire time they are praying for a child. We need churches who will pray and do whatever it takes to reproduce their church while they wait upon the Lord.

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ARE WE BURNING CHURCH PLANTING DOLLARS?

I Peter 4:10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
 
Let me start by saying, that I understand, not all church planters are going to make it to the field, and not all church planters will stay on the field. I also understand that not all church plants are going to survive.
 
With that said, I’m concerned with the amount of God’s money given to church planting, but then seeing these churches die and along with it a lot of God’s money. The cost of a church plant over two years can be well over $200,000.00. Is there anything that we can do about this?   We know that not all mothers who are expecting a child will deliver a healthy baby. Because of this fact, Christian parents will pray and have their church pray during pregnancy. The parents will go to doctor visits, follow nutrition guidelines, and focus on the mother’s health. When it is time to deliver, they will go to the hospital just in case something goes wrong. The family will prepare a nursery and have baby showers to help the parents have everything they need to give this child a great start.
 
Approximately 40% of new church plants fail in the first 2-3 years. If just 30% of new churches die, and the cost is $200,000.00 per plant, that is a lot of God’s resources wasted.
 
What can we do to help birth strong, healthy churches? What can we do to be better stewards of the church planting dollars that God has entrusted to us?
 
I Have Strong Reproducing Churches
 
We must get away from just the sending church mentality. When I started in the ministry, a young man would feel called to plant a church, and his pastor would have the men lay hands on him and “send” him out. We need to have a reproducing church mentality. We believe that everything reproduces after its kind. Also, nothing has ever reproduced without the active involvement of the parent. It is the responsibility of churches to start churches. Therefore, pastors need to see that it is their biblical responsibility to be the leader. The pastor must lead in every church plant in which his church is planting.
 
II We Must Vet the Church Planters We Support
 

We get so excited that a man is willing to go to a city that sometimes we just throw money at them. Even though a man has surrendered to plant a church, the bible clearly states he should not be a novice. We must make sure that he and his family are ready for this. We vet the church planters by examining:

  • Their doctrine
  • Bible version stance
  • Music standards
  • Accessing their character and fruitfulness

We must also question:

  • Who is their reproducing church?
  • Is the reproducing church going to be involved?
  • Does his reproducing pastor feel that the church planter and his family are ready?
  • What is their philosophy of church planting?
  • Are they going out as a lone wolf?
 
A church planter may line up doctrinally with us, but is their reproducing church going to do what it takes to plant a strong, healthy church? Are they, as the church planter, going to do what it takes to ensure a healthy birth? Does the church planter have a submissive spirit to their reproducing pastor?
 
III If Possible, Get Involved
 

If you consider the reproducing church a sister church, then that makes you an aunt. If your niece or nephew were having a baby, would you not help them out? If this church plant is in your area, commit to helping.

  • Be an encouragement to the church planter.
  • Help with any evangelistic outreach for the plant.
  • Give money for startup costs.
  • Participate in kick-off services
 
The more churches helping and encouraging the church plant and planter, the healthier they will be when they start.
 
IV Support Needs to Continue After the Church is Planted
 

When your child has a baby, do you come and celebrate, drop off a gift and then never see them again? No, you stay actively involved as much as you can. This kind of commitment is essential for the reproducing church, but also for the area churches who have helped with the start. Make it a purpose to:

  • Call and encourage the church planter and his family.
  • Take the planter’s family out for dinner.
  • Offer to come and help with evangelism.
  • Offer to help send workers for special music, nursery, ushers…
  • Offer to go and preach for them, for free, as a special guest speaker or missions conferences.
 
Have the heart of a reproducing church. Be creative in how you can help them have a strong, healthy church.
 
Don’t forget, Baptist Church Planting Ministry is willing to help, at no cost, in any way we can. By helping start vibrant churches, BCPM has seen over 92% of new churches birthed, survive past the three-year mark.
 
If you have questions or would like more information please contact Rick Rust, 419-340-6644

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BIBLICAL INNOVATION FOR CHURCH PLANTING

Innovation is defined as the introduction of new things or methods. Some call it “cutting edge”, “state of the art”, or “contemporary”.

Regardless of the terminology, innovation is widely embraced across many domains of society. The world of business is full of entrepreneurs looking for the next “big idea”. The medical field is open to many new ideas that advance the cure of deadly diseases or shorten the healing process. We are all familiar with the rapid advancement and innovative ideas that have arrived on our doorstep through technology. Even in sports innovation is seen as a positive thing. But mention the word to a group of independent Baptists, and some will assume that you are a compromiser of the truth.

 
Sadly, there are those who lean so hard away from innovation in church ministry that they become inflexible and unable to change in ways that are biblical, God-honoring, and involve no compromise.
 
For example, if a younger pastor attempts to further the cause of Christ with a community outreach event, such as a neighborhood barbecue hosted by his church, a more seasoned pastor may comment that “we’ve never done it that way before.” Even the subtlest change in the worship service can become a point for criticism by those who are holding the “old line.”
 
When we refuse to allow for innovation we begin to die. We should not be sending the message to the next generation of church planters and pastors who are biblical, faith-filled, thinking men, that we have already done the thinking for them. These young men are the present, the future, and the hope of our movement! Certainly, we must pass along the convictional truths, and biblical foundations that have made our movement strong. But we must not remove from the hands and hearts of the next generation the opportunity to implement God-given vision. That will make our movement weak.
 
Now we need to understand that there are checks and balances. In the remainder of this article you will find a brief, but not exhaustive, summary of ways in which innovation is a blessing in church planting ministry, as well as some of the dangers that are inherent when new methods are employed without biblical parameters.
 
 
I. Innovation is a Blessing to Church Planting Ministry
 

Let’s begin with the blessings. When is innovation a blessing?

 

  1. When it is a means of better facilitating the God-given purposes of the church.

 

Paul expected Timothy to be doctrinally sound, uncompromising in conviction, and godly in character. But he also understood that Timothy would have to be who God made him to be. Therefore, Paul challenged him to “exercise thyself . . . unto godliness” I Tim.4:7; to “Let no man despise thy youth” I Tim. 4:12; and to “stir up the gift of God which is in thee.” II Tim. 1:6

Paul understood that Timothy would be his own man, and he did not steer him away from that individuality. Rather, he encouraged Timothy to focus his unique calling and gifts toward being the best leader he could be. Timothy’s individuality would naturally lead him to some innovation.

The right kind of innovation will always be driven by a desire to facilitate ministry that is more effective, biblical, and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Innovation for innovation sake will never be right, but innovation with God’s purposes in mind will be divinely blessed and used of God.

 

  1. When it revitalizes and refreshes a ministry program that is neglected or dying.

 

Have you ever considered that a particular way of doing ministry is not working in the context of your ministry? Now if you are hitting a home run every time you step up to bat, keep doing it! But that is not reality for most of us.

Over the course of twenty years of pastoral ministry in the greater Toronto area I came to the conclusion several times that the way we were going about ministry was not facilitating the type of growth and involvement among our church family that God desired. So, we needed to ask, “Do we continue with the way things have always been done, or do we make changes?”

In one instance we moved from the standard Saturday morning soulwinning outreach to a program called NETS that would enable us to facilitate every member, anytime evangelism. Instead of Saturday we staged our soulwinning meeting once a month on Sunday evenings, and asked for a minimum monthly commitment in the area of personal evangelism. Instantly, the participation level went from ten to one hundred! Much more was being accomplished in terms of advancing the gospel.

Why do we have trouble admitting that we are failing? Why is it we are too stubborn to change even when there are good biblical ways to do it differently?

The right kind of innovation can breathe life into a ministry that is otherwise on life support.

 

  1. When it helps church members to better understand their responsibility and opportunity for service in the church.

 

Where things do not change, and there is a lack of innovative ministry, over time things become stale. The tendency is for church members to become disinterested and apathetic towards church ministry. They are not being challenged to attempt something greater for the cause of Christ.

A refreshed and innovative approach to the soulwinning, or discipleship programs serves notice that the church cares about the vitality of those ministries. It is like applying a fresh coat of paint to a room. It can bring things back to life, and reenergize God’s people to serve Him!

Before we conclude let’s consider the other side of this coin as we look at the dangers inherent in the wrong kind of innovation.

II. The Dangers of Innovation in Church Planting Ministry We must be intellectually honest and careful to acknowledge there are some dangers that can creep into innovative ministry. I have listed a few that we should carefully contemplate.

  1. The danger of violating Biblical precepts and principles.

 

We should understand this implicitly, but it still needs restating in the most explicit of terms. There is a danger of getting so caught up in new trends and innovation that we overstep the boundaries of what is pure, and modest and appropriate in a biblical sense.

There must be standards for everything from our dress to our music. Those standards are a representation of our biblical convictions. They are a representation of what we believe about God. While there is room for variance on where we draw the line, there can be no variance on the fact that we must draw a line.

Younger men must be careful to listen and glean what they can from seasoned men in the ministry. They should seek to understand why certain positions were held, and stands were taken.

 

It is the wrong sort of innovation that leads us away from Biblical standards of separation.

 

  1. The danger of becoming dependent on innovation more than we are dependent upon God.

 

We can subtly gravitate to the thinking that our success in ministry depends upon our new programs, methods and innovations. And to be perfectly balanced on this issue our success does not depend on the old, so called “tried and true” methods either. God is not in need of our programs old or new to breathe out His power and blessing upon the work.

It is a grave mistake to think that innovation is a replacement for the power of God upon our lives and ministry.

 

  1. The danger of innovating for purely pragmatic reasons.

 

Pragmatism is the idea of implementing something simply because it works, or gets results.

Perhaps there is pressure to keep up with ministry trends, so we mimic the innovations of others. We take note of the outward or statistical success that other ministries enjoy, and wrongly believe if we copy their program we will enjoy similar results.

 

Concluding Thoughts
 

If you were Moses, would you expect Joshua to follow your ministry methods of bringing water from the rock, and fashioning brass serpents? Would you understand that God designed your ministries to be unique?

God called Moses to a ministry of deliverance, but appointed Joshua to a ministry of conquest. Both were godly, faith-filled, spirit-led men. Yet it would have been folly for Joshua to seek to duplicate the methods of Moses, and it would have been unwise for Moses to mandate it.

In similar ways today, God calls men and designs them for unique contexts within His work. He expects us to be biblical men filled with faith and conviction. He desires us to follow Him into an innovative and effective ministry rather than to blindly follow the methods of those who walked before us or mimic the ideas of those who walk beside us.

We should not discount the convictional contribution of the past generation, nor should we dismiss the spirit-filled innovation of the present generation.

We can be conventional without becoming clichéd. We can be contemporary without being compromisers.

 


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FROM PIONEER TO PASTOR

Many times a church planter, because he is naturally a pioneer, will have a difficult time adjusting to the composition of a more established church. It is at this transition time that many decide to “move on” when they should “move up” in their relationship and commitment with the Lord.

 

1. Reasons for the adjustment
  • The church begins to “stabilize” and “settle”
  • Pastor is used to constantly evangelizing and motivating but now has to spend more time visiting and nurturing. You are now more of a grower than a sower
  •  Pastor is now spending more time putting out fires. People = problems
  • Pastor has to spend more time studying to better “feed the flock” and focus on spiritual growth
  • Pastor has to switch from “doing it all himself” to “delegating”
  • Pastor has to “take the oversight” and trust others to do the work
  • Pastor goes from “people person” to “personal trainer”
  • Pastor realizes his work isn’t the day of Pentecost but will take time to grow just like everyone else’s church

   

2. Reactions to the adjustment
  • Frustration with the situation
    • Church isn’t growing as fast – numerically or spiritually
    • Congregation loses its zeal
    • Not as many members out soul-winning
    • Pastor is putting out more fires
    • Not as exciting because there are real issues to deal with
    • Wife sees her husband as a “baby-sitter.”
    • Pastor realizes he was too quick to announce he is “self-supporting” and to have churches cut support
  • Rethinking of a long-term ministry in that church
    • Pastor begins to think God is moving him on
    • Pastor and his wife question if the ministry is for them anymore
    • Pastor begins to prepare an exit strategy
 
3. Reasons to stay beyond the adjustment
  • Because God put you there – renew and reclaim your calling
  • Because God wants you to grow and mature with the church
  • Because you will see more fruit that remains
  • Because you can multiply more for world evangelism by staying and reproducing churches
  • Because you will learn to enjoy the fruit of your labor

 

4. Steps to making a successful adjustment
  • You and your wife make a spiritual decision to stay
  • Realize the church isn’t your church but it’s God’s church
  • Seek advice from others who have successfully transitioned
  • Focus on discipleship, training, and developing leadership
    • Preach and teach on serving
    • Focus on the mentoring the faithful members
    • Focus on one person at a time, don’t expect too much
    • Display areas of service and include new areas
    • Give a spiritual gift test
    • Meet with the faithful men on a regular bases in order to train and discuss church-related needs
    • Share your vision often
    • Bring on an intern or assistant
    • Pray that the Lord will give you patience and resolve

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