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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WHAT’S NEXT?

Walking a new church through the early years
 
1. Focus on three priorities
 
  • Evangelize 
Go ye therefore and teach all nations” (Matt. 28:19). Even if you had a good attendance during your start, you should spend most of your time evangelizing. You will lose the first “scaffolding” people within the first three years.
  • Mobilize
“For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry” (Eph. 4:12). Concentrate on developing people.
 
Ground people in doctrine through teaching, preaching, and personal discipleship. This is one major reason to start the church with all the services.
 
Implement people into serving. Meet with each visiting family and go over general information about your   church such as church description, ministries, and membership. Have new member orientation meetings and cover doctrine, purpose, and areas of service.  
 
Begin to train and delegate. People who are involved will stick with you. Most of the people at the beginning will be workers, wanting to pioneer with you so prayerfully put them to work
 
  • Advertise
“Now when this was noised, the multitude came together” (Acts 2:6).  Let everyone in the are know that God is working in your church. Use every means possible to saturate the area with info about the new church. It will take several years for people to notice that your church is in the area.
 
2. Follow a purpose
 
Develop a Scripturally based purpose statement and follow it as you grow. It will help you keep on the right track and avoid pitfalls.
 
All ministries of the church should comply with the purpose.
 
Show the purpose regularly.
 
3. Fine Tune the program
Try to start out with all services as this helps people know you are stable, permanent, and are serious about the Bible. This will also help the church to mature more quickly.
 
Be short – people are not expecting a long service so don’t disappoint them. Services should be less than an hour.
 
Don’t lag – start on time and have the music, announcements, etc. planned and rehearsed. People will be more apt to come back if the service was well organized.
 
Have sermons prepared. Good messages can make up for lack of other ministries. People are like sheep and will return if they are being fed.
  • Ministries
Be clean and prepared.
 
Don’t try to have too much – a children’s ministry and nursery the two most critical ministries at the beginning.
 
Have regular fellowships. Building relationships is crucial during the early years.
  • Plan ahead
Use a calendar and plan the year.
 
Print your plans and give them to people.
 
Share your vision, plans, and goals regularly. Talk about short-term and long-term desires. This will build a desire in people to want to stay with you.
  • Be positive
There are many benefits to starting a new church so dwell on them.
 
Negativism will quench the Spirit and kill the church.
  • Be people oriented
Show hospitality- “Given to hospitality” (1 Tim. 3:2). 
 
People do not want to know how much you know but how much you care so be personable.
  • Be faithful
Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (1 Cor. 4:2). Attendance will fluctuate and    people will be fickle, but God and His Word will never change!
 
Faithful to God. Have a personal strong relationship with the Lord.
Faithful to family. Have meaningful relationships with your wife and family. Take time to enjoy each other and grow with the Lord together.

 


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USING AN INTERN IN A CHURCH PLANT

The biblical example is for local churches to reproduce local churches. This example is for both an established local church and for a local church in the process of being established. A church plant should focus on reproducing herself as she focuses on establishing herself. One method of doing so is through using an intern. Below you will find some helpful thoughts on this subject.
 
1. Who is a candidate to be an intern?
  • The biblical requirements set by God for pastoring a church should be upheld when seeking an intern. Often, a church planting pastor will welcome any help. However, no help is worse than unbiblical or bad help.
  • The intern should be someone who walks with God. Church planting is the front-line work of God. He will be tested repeatedly.
  • The intern should be someone who senses God’s call to be a church planter.
  • The intern and his wife must demonstrate a strong, determined work ethic. Their faithfulness will be tested. Their energy will be stretched.

 

2. How to choose an intern?
 
  • Primarily seek the Lord and His peace. Take your time and do not be in a hurry. Pray and fast.
  • The intern and his wife should visit the work for at least ten days (more if possible). During that time the church planting pastor must realistically show the intern what to expect in the ministry he will be joining. This survey time will aid in preventing an intern arriving and leaving within a year which hurts families in the church in the process.
  • The church planting pastor must be upfront and honest with the intern. Will the church plant pay the intern? Will the intern need to work a secular job? What responsibilities will the intern carry?
  • Ensure that the intern’s wife and children are on board with the position. If the wife and children are not in agreement, the intern will struggle immensely and ultimately fade away.
 
3. Practical advice in using an intern.
 
  • The church planting pastor should create a contract for the intern. The contract should clearly state all responsibilities, state the amount of salary (if applicable), and a designated extent of time of service with the church planting pastor before the intern leaves the current ministry or begins deputation to plant another local church. The contract should also include a statement regarding the willingness of the intern to follow the church planting pastor’s direction in the timing of reproducing a future church plant.
  • The church planting pastor should be sensitive to the intern’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs If the intern is part-time in the ministry and having to work a secular job, the tendency is to treat the intern as a full-time staff member with high expectations within the ministry; however, this can prove to be overwhelming and be discouraging to the intern and his family.
  • The church planting pastor should meet regularly with the intern to promote growth in the intern through prayer, Bible study, and book studies. Another benefit of meeting regularly is to ensure that the intern is completing his responsibilities.
  • The church planting pastor must constantly check up on the intern. They will be prone to wonder. They will not carry the same burden the church planting pastor carries for the people of the church plant. Realize this fact and help the intern to see the importance of the decisions he makes.
 
4. Struggles in using an intern.
 
  • The strain of the intern working a full-time or part-time job along with the ministry will become a struggle. The intern will grow weary. Dealing with those issues can be difficult.
  • The responsibility of administrating a staff member can be exhausting, especially for a church planting pastor in a young work.
  • The church planting pastor always runs the risk of being hurt by his “Timothy” in a variety of ways such as: abandoning the work, hurting church members through poor decisions, and planting a new work with a different philosophy of ministry.
 
5. Advantages of using an intern.
 
  • The fellowship an intern can provide for a church planting pastor and wife can be refreshing.
  • The man-power in the church plant will be welcomed and become extremely useful.
  • As the intern speaks of his future church plant and as the church planting pastor references the ultimate purpose of the intern, church planting is regularly in the minds of the local church. This focus will launch the church plant into reproducing itself naturally.

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IMPLEMENTING LEADERSHIP IN A YOUNG CHURCH PLANT

What do you notice is the greatest void in the ministry of a brand-new church?  Frequently, it is a void in leadership that finds the pastor and his family “doing everything.”  While that is often to be expected in the early months, it becomes lethal if not addressed and resolved in subsequent months and years. While there are several key components of a church plant “that makes it,” none are more significant that an expanding plurality of leadership under the inspiring vision and disciplined oversight of the senior pastor.

 

Here are few key steps that enable every church plant to implement a leadership pipeline:

 

The first step is that the church “planter” himself must transition into becoming an effective, Spirit-guided “pastor.”

 

It is time to do more than talk about “what we are going to do as a church” and simply start doing it.  Long before you can mentor another budding leader, you must first model it!  Fleshed out, this looks like door-to-door visitation and one-on-one discipleship amongst other leadership disciplines. (It is very likely that someone you lead to Christ and disciple will become your most indispensable and influential partner in leadership because they will grow with you and under you.)  Being available and poised to counsel in the areas of personal sanctification is a must for those attending.  Visiting the elderly and shut-ins must be a regular, frequent part of your weekly rhythm. To raise up additional under-shepherds, those very same people must first be a part of a flock of well-fed and cared for sheep.

 

The second step is to read broadly, listen intently, and dig deeply into the Word to refine your philosophy on becoming a “leader of leaders.”

  • Read and reread Acts, a book that repeatedly addresses the challenges and contexts of this very transition. (Act 6:1-8; 14:23; 16:4)
  • No matter how far off it sounds, start with the belief that there are people in your local community that God has gifted to lead in your church.
  • Spend less time recruiting distant Bible college graduates and church staff and look for blossoming leaders in the assembly…who probably are not fully developed yet. (That is a good thing; it permits you to train them in the unique culture and context of your ministry!)
  • Some of the problems and burdens that stress out the point man and demand more leaders affirm your growth.
  • You don’t develop leaders to get tasks done; you get tasks done to develop leaders.
  • As one pastor put it, “Leaders develop best when they are in the game.” (Don’t wait for them to be perfectly qualified before inserting them into a need-to-know, need-to-go area of responsibility.)
  • Listen to other pioneers that transitioned successfully from a start-up to a flourishing business or ministry.  (One of the best secular resources I have found is a podcast by NPR called “How I Built This with Guy Raz”)
  • Always remember the indicative levels of your pastoral maturity: “I” is entry level, “you” is immature at best, and “we” is the highest level of leading with consensus and partnership.

 

The third step is to tenaciously begin to practically invest large amounts of energy and time into that one or two or more that God has gifted to your church in spiritual leadership.

  • When given an honest choice between attracting a “crowd” or investing in the “core,” go with the latter EVERY TIME! (It may not be as flashy and attractional, but it will most assuredly lead to a more sustained and fruitful ministry.)
  • If possible, have a LOCAL MAN fill the void of treasurer and secretary who has the potential for more.  (Our current administrative pastor who is almost a full time paid staff member started out in this role.)
  • Don’t be in a rush with deacons.  (I learned this office must not be rushed and filled only with those with the right temperament.)
  • Use a church management software from the jump.  (While we use Planning Center for services, giving, and people, whatever you use should enable leaders with full-time, off-site jobs to seamlessly coordinate during the week.)
  • Pick your volunteers; don’t ask for them.  (This allows you to pair up responsibilities with those who are biblically qualified and have a sustainable passion.)
  • Schedule an annual leadership retreat the moment you have one other family onboard to serve/be accountable at a higher level than the attendees. (This has been a key component of building a leadership team of 11 couples who love to be together and share a mutual vision.)

 

The fourth step is to learn how to maintain and encourage those who begin to log some years in leading the church with you.           

It is not enough to start a leadership team; you must learn to maintain it, or it will often implode in a costly way to your fledgling church.  One the biggest mistake the church planters like us make is that we tend to burn out our volunteer leaders and have way too much turnover creating unnecessary flux.  If you are looking for it, Paul, in the opening chapter or closing chapter of his epistles, consistently takes the time to encourage the elders and servants in the local church.  Here is one example in Philippians 1:
 
  • Encourage not just the upfront leaders but the behind the scenes servants who truly form the backbone of your ministry. (You will “outrun your coverage” if you forget to support those who staff your entry-level and essentials like nursery, greeters, cleaners, deacons, etc.) Ph 1:1 “Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:”

 

  • Show gratitude…all the time. (Every request and response you offer should be tempered with thankfulness. Do it until they ask you to stop, and then give them more. This gratitude also bears fruit when those same leaders begin to oversee their own leaders and mimic the grateful tone you have inaugurated.) Ph 1:3 “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,”

 

  • Make them know that you enjoy them and their fellowship. (If you are only around your leadership team when formal ministry is done, you are missing out on a level of expanding comradery that can only occur when you are laughing, playing, and “just shooting the breeze.”) Ph 1:5, 8 “For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now…For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.”

 

  • Regularly communicate Christ-centered confidence in their potential. (Believe in them; they have enough others in their family and the community who remind them that they are “novices and nobodies.”) Ph 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”

 

  • Pray for them. (Whether they realize it or not, the moment a man or woman who surrenders to greater leadership responsibilities in the local church, they will predictably begin to experience more spiritual resistance and attack from our mutual enemies: the world, the flesh, and the Devil. The responsibility for leadership turnover rests as much upon the prayerless pastor who recruited them as the individual who commitment falters.) Ph 1:9 “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;”

 

Every local church pioneer must quickly and thoroughly go from “planter” to “pastor” if their fledgling work is to be grounded and grown.  In no area is more intentional time and focus required than that of developing leaders to maintain and expand the gospel ministry.  Without this key transition, not only will the church die, but you will burn out your dear wife, kids, and anyone else that you “dump on” when you should have learned the art of sanctified delegation.  While you see nowhere Paul instructing Titus or Timothy how to build massive crowds, he does command them, for the sake of their churches, that their primary responsibility is to develop leaders:  2 Timothy 2:2 “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.  Until you obey this command, you are not pastoring.  Maybe planting.  But not pastoring.


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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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LEADING A CHURCH TO REPRODUCE ITSELF

Understanding that churches reproduce churches, it is the responsibility of every church to oversee the birthing of baby churches. Reproducing churches isn’t a passive decision but a purposeful one. The Biblical mandate for the local church is to “go.” Reaching Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost is not conditional but imperative. Below are two practical, helpful, and Biblical phases churches should go through to reproduce.

Phase 1 – The Church Preparing

 

1. Help the church cultivate a desire to reproduce

Since churches reproduce a new church, more than just the pastor needs to have the burden and vision to reproduce.  Cultivating a unified desire from the members of the church is crucial and can be done through a study on Biblical church planting or by having a special conference or seminar. BCPM could come in and teach the principles of why a church should birth a church. You can also bring in church planters to share what God is doing in their ministry. The church plant will die prematurely without the church having the desire and commitment to reproduce.

2. Make it a part of your budget

Start setting aside funds. You can do this through your mission’s budget, general budget, or special monthly or quarterly offerings. You will know if the church is “on board” if they give to reproducing themselves. These funds can be helpful to the start-up costs. Some have also designated funds monthly to help with the church planter’s support.

3. Have special prayer meetings throughout the year

Encourage the church collectively to pray over their Judea. Also, encourage your people to pray for areas as they travel around their community.

4. Get involved with a church plant close to your church
When a sister church plants a church, get involved. You can help by evangelizing the new area, supplying needs, and getting involved with the opening services.
 
 

Phase 2 – The Church Delivering

1. Select the Targeted Area
Pray earnestly about needy areas. A particular area might make sense, but there needs to be a clear direction from the Lord and a moving of His Spirit. A needy area doesn’t constitute a call to that area. The Apostle Paul was lead and also held back by the Spirit in Acts 16:6-7. Seek the Lord, and He will make the location very obvious.
 
2. Evangelize the New Area
Possibly go soul-winning twice a month for a few months. Take groups from the church and pray that the Lord will give fruit. People will come to know Christ as Savior, and there will be more excitement in the church for the new area.
 
3. Start an Extension Service

Begin to hold a service to minister to the new community. Although a Bible study can be conducted during the week, a Sunday afternoon service is preferred as this is the best time to reach the majority of people. Have church members from the reproducing church sign up and commit to travel over and help conduct the services each week. It is important for the guests from the new area to know that this is an extension ministry with a goal of establishing a local church.

 

4. Pray for a Church Planter

Begin to pray for the right man to pastor the church. This might be someone from within or someone who the Lord brings from without. Remember that churches reproduce after their “kind.” Even if the man has a college education and experience with other ministries, he needs to be mentored by the reproducing pastor, and this could take several years. The reproducing pastor has to be the one who approves the new pastor and his family. A novice cannot be placed into the ministry. The reproducing church also needs to notice that the man is ready and that there is no question that the Lord has His hand on him and his family.

5. The Long-term Finances

The church planter should be fully supported when starting the church as he needs to give his full time to reaching and pastoring people. The lack of finances is the number one reason why church plants die prematurely. It is very difficult to work, pastor, and be a good husband and father all at the same time. Although most support will come from other churches, pray about what the reproducing church can do long-term. The support can be reduced by 20% each year for a five-year term which will keep the church planter dedicated and dependent on the Lord. This term can be extended or reduced based on the financial state of the church.
 
6. The Launch Strategy

Once the above steps have been taken, it is time to prepare for the official start of the church. Because the church will only get one birth, much time and planning need to be given to a healthy beginning. Preparing a timeline with a checklist, organizing a cooperative effort with other churches, and establishing the best advertising methods are all important factors during this preparation stage. BCPM can help with this entire process.

 
7. Post-start Nurturing
Continue to find ways to nurture and be a blessing to the baby church. Send members over on Sundays to help with ushering, music, and nursery. Continue to help the new church with the evangelism and outreach. Provide resources such as curriculum and printing needs. The reproducing pastor can speak to the men of the new church about being faithful, supporting the new work, and taking care of the pastor. The nurturing relationship can go on for several years and is a vital source of strength for the new church.
 

Birthing a baby church in a needy area is very exciting, rewarding, and exhausting.  It is an opportunity to watch the Lord carry out His commission in reaching one more part of His creation. Churches should spend much time in prayer seeking the Lord and asking Him to establish local churches that will one day reproduce more churches.    

 

 

 


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