FOCUS GROUPS AND CHURCH PLANTING

PARTNERSHIP THAT LEADS TO CHURCH PLANTING Partnership – what a beautiful word! It assumes friendship but adds a practical purpose to the relationship. It assumes a common goal but does not demand a duplication of identity. A partnership includes mutual accountability and a spirit of cooperation applied to the accomplishment of the objective. However, a partnership does not infringe on the independence of the partners. Most independent Baptists have an inbred aversion to partnerships. We are fearful of a relationship that would align us too closely with someone with whom we may disagree on a wide variety of topics. But we have strong reasons, based on biblical principle, to work together as we can when we can. The disciples were a diverse group. When Paul was added to the group of Apostles, the diversity was even more evident, yet they were partners in the work of the Lord Jesus. There is no higher cause and no greater potential for churches to form partnerships around than evangelism and the planting of churches. The average Baptist church in America averages less one hundred people in attendance. It is not impossible for an average-sized church (or smaller than average-sized) to “single-handedly” reproduce another church, but it is difficult, and it is rarely done. So, how can the average-sized church get directly involved in church planting? They can do so very effectively through partnerships.

PARTNERSHIPS FROM FRIENDSHIPS Here is what God has done in our area. About four years ago, I was part of a group of pastors in West Virginia (plus a couple of Buckeyes from southeast Ohio) who got together for a non-typical pastor’s gathering. We called it a Focus Group. There was no guest speaker, no preaching, and no event or organization to promote. Our purpose was to spend a few hours together to share ideas, encouragement, burdens, experiences that relate to practical pastoral ministry. The format was a roundtable discussion. A “starter” agenda was noted to get the conversations going. This type of pastors gathering is extremely beneficial. We are able to learn from one another in a relaxed non-threatening exchange of ministry experiences. The range of topics is quite wide: missions, young adults, teaching materials, preaching helps, children’s ministry, bus ministry, promotion ideas, good books, sermon series, counseling, ushers, new construction, pastoral ethics, funerals, etc. Most guys leave these meetings with pages of notes and several good ideas. The other significant benefit of this type of meeting is that the participants become real friends with each other. The open exchange of ideas leads to better understanding of one another. We share victories as well as defeats; successes as well as failures. We pray for each other in a much more personal way. Genuine respect is established – even between those who have different opinions on some minor issues. In other words, true friendship is established. On the agenda at the meeting four years ago was this question for the group: “Is anybody doing anything with church planting?” The response was unremarkable. Most reported that their church did (or had in the past) support a distant church planter for missionary (prayer and financial) support. Although these works were in the United States, their connection to the supporting church was like any foreign missionary. _ ere was little or no physical connection or on-going personal engagement. We began to discuss regions of the country, like the Northeast, where there is a tremendous void of Bible preaching churches. We began to speculate about the practicality of physically helping a church get started in the northeast corridor from our home churches – at least six hours away. That led to a discussion about areas within our region that had little or no church impact. We noted four or five towns or counties in West Virginia and southeast Ohio where none of us could name an independent Baptist church. I summed up and concluded that portion of the agenda by saying, “I am not sure how, but I know the Lord wants my church to help start another church.” There were nods of agreement. Other pastors were feeling a similar burden. We moved on.

A DEFINING MOMENT Defining moments are rarely recognized at the time as being “defining moments.” It is only as we look back that we NOW realize that the brief discussion about the need for churches in our region was truly a defining moment.

It is too long of a story to completely tell in this article, but God used that focus group meeting and those fifteen minutes of discussion about church planting to spark an on-going partnership among those pastors (along with others who have come alongside). We determined to get seriously and directly involved in Regional Church Planting. By “regional” I mean a church plant that is within a two-hour drive so that in addition to financial support and prayer support we can give physical support.

We can put “boots on the ground” to help birth and nurture the new church. Trying to learn as much as possible about planting a new church, we learned of Dr. Jessup and Baptist Church Planting Ministry. The encouragement, counsel and helpful details they brought to our vision and burden were priceless! Hallelujah, they had a playbook! They had a “to do” list of what needed to be done. The first church plant that sprang from this coalition of friends was the Bible Truth Baptist Church of Athens, Ohio. God led our church, Maranatha Baptist in Charleston, to be the reproducing church. God had led Troy Kline to be the pastor of the yet-to-be-birthed church. Troy had been in the focus group meeting as a pastoral staff man. He had not said a word during the meeting. But God began speaking to him. The friends of the focus group immediately became partners in the church plant. They were quick to take on Pastor Kline for financial support. (Most of them on the BCPM concept of 4-year-decreasing-term support.) They were ready to engage their churches in the material preparation and the visitation on Saturation Saturdays. They committed to bringing groups and supplies for the Get-Acquainted Meetings. They even sent small ministry teams on Sundays for the first several weeks to assist Pastor Kline. Now, THOSE pastors are real friends!

Let me clarify that this group has no structural organization. We are just friends. There are no officers. We are just friends. There is no chairman, president, or director. We are just friends. There are no bylaws, letterheads, or committees. We are just friends. There are no demands, expectations, or assumptions about participation. We are just friends.

Because we are friends, we have become partners in Regional Church Planting. Because we are friends, we are eager to help one another toward our common goal: the gospel preached, believers baptized, and disciples trained. In the subsequent years, two other pastors from the group have been lead of God to be a reproducing church for a new church plant in the region. Last year, Pastor Rick Perrine and the Ripley Baptist Temple birthed the Pickerington Baptist Temple in Pickerington, Ohio, with new Pastor B.J. VanAmon. Just a few weeks ago, Pastor Charles Madaus and Bible Baptist Church, Clarksburg, WV, reproduced themselves in the Hope’s Point Baptist Church in Weston, WV, with Pastor Dan Vaughn. In each of those cases, the friends of the Focus Group became the partners to provide the core of support (prayer, financial and logistical) for the new church. Of course, other churches got involved with each of these plants through various connections. But what a thrill and encouragement it is to have a group of friends who will partner together for the cause of the gospel and planting churches.

Currently, this focus group meets two or three times per year. The agenda ALWAYS includes the topic of church planting. We get reports from the existing plants, and we discuss possibilities for future target areas.

The impact of the regional component of this initiative cannot be overstated. Church members who go to the Saturation Saturdays, who attend the Get-Acquainted Meetings, who help assemble the saturation materials are FAR MORE personally invested and passionately supportive of the church plant vision. The focus group churches have all had a tremendous increase in passion and enthusiasm for planting new churches. They are thrilled to hear the good reports from these new churches about attendance, salvations, and baptisms. We are looking forward to the Lord’s direction about the next church plant in our region. No doubt God will give a burden and vision to one of the pastors in our group. When that happens, our friendship will coalesce into a partnership. That partnership will help birth another Bible-preaching independent Baptist church. To God be the glory – great things He has done… and great things He continues to do!


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10 PRACTICAL STEPS TO PLANTING A CHURCH

Following the Lord to launch out and start a church is exciting. The following steps are a practical guide to help the plant to be healthy and enduring.    

 
1. The need to answer and guard the call.

The church planter should be absolutely certain that this is the leading of the Lord and he should guard this calling. The church plant shouldn’t be viewed as a “trial bases” or a “stepping stone to real ministry.” The baby church is a living organism and walking away will ensure its death. This calling will be what anchors and drives him during the most adverse circumstances as his endurance will be tested.

 
2. The need for training under a reproducing church and pastor.

The Bible is very explicit about not putting a novice into the ministry. Spending time working under, and being mentored by, a reproducing pastor is invaluable. The church planter should be willing to submit and allow a seasoned pastor to poor knowledge and experience into him. This mentorship could take several years but they are needed for maturity and preparedness. Sending a novice is the second reason why church plants die prematurely.

 
3. The need for the right area.

Although there are many needy areas, a need doesn’t constitute a call. Paul was persuaded of the Holy Spirit twice in Acts 16:5-8 to stay away from areas where he thought needed the gospel most. The lord needs to direct in choosing the place and, usually, the reproducing pastor will know of places that the Lord has put on his heart.

 

4. The need for financial support.

Times have changed and most communities are now full of people with little or no church background. In addition, most families now have multiple financial, marital, and social issues. The church planter needs to devote his full time to reach an area effectively. He should go into the church plant with full support but have a reduction of 20% each year over a five-year term. This will give him time to establish the work but still keep him focused as the reduction will happen each year.  

 

5. The need for acclimation.

The church planter should have time to move to the new area, get his family settled, and understand the culture and people he is impacting. He should work with, and become friends with, other pastors in the area who can give him insight and help. Many church planters give up because they didn’t take time to get acclimated.  

 

6. The need for the right meeting place.

Hotels conference rooms, schools, and activity centers are all good meeting places. Location is key and it should be safe, well lit, and easily accessible. The building should have good light, sound, and smell. People will go up but not down in social status areas so look for the best place in a good neighborhood even if it costs more.   

 

7. The need for mass evangelizing.

Every family should receive gospel literature and an invitation to the new church. The best way to do this is through door-to-door. John and Roman booklets are preferred as people will be less likely to throw them away and those two books are a great help to a new or baby Christian.

        

8. The need for advertising and promotion.

Every means ought to be used to get the gospel out and advertise the new church effectively. Social media and mailers work great but the best is still temporary signs. Putting dozens of signs on every street corner will saturate the area and be a constant reminder of the new church.

 

9. The need for special opening meetings.

The number one need from church planters is for credibility. When a church planter begins to engage a community he is often treated with suspect and resistance. It usually takes years to build the credibility of the pastor and new church into the community. Special “Get Acquainted Meetings” can help introduce the new pastor and church to the community and give much-needed credibility. Other pastors can host a night and bring their members to help serve with nursery, ushering, refreshments, and music. The guest pastors can give testimony and say positive credible comments about the new pastor and church.        

 

10. The need for further focus after the start.

Though the first services are over, now begins a lifelong journey of growth with the new baby church. The church planter needs to realize that the early years of a church plant are crucial for the longevity of the new work. His focus should be on evangelizing, mobilizing, and advertising.


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PLANTING WITH PERSONAL AND FAMILY PRIORITIES

Planting a church will be very difficult without having the proper priorities in place. The stresses, attacks, and emotional highs and lows can cause a church planter and his family to steer off course from a healthy God-honoring relationship. Establishing priorities from the beginning is a must.  
 
I. Your first priority in life should be to Glorify the Lord personally
  • Spend your life knowing God (Phil. 3:10)
  • Spend much time each day in personal prayer and in His word (Ps. 55:17)
  • Your strongest desire ought to be an intimate relationship with Him (Ps. 42:1)

 

II. Our second priority should be to glorify the Lord with your wife and family
 
  • Your wife and family ought to be a joy to serve with
  • The Lord makes a successful family a prerequisite to a successful ministry. (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9)
  • Family and ministry can be successfully blended and balanced
    • By recognizing the importance of doing so
    • By refusing to see either one as a hindrance to the other
    • By being determined to make whatever sacrifices or adjustments necessary
    • By seeking to glorify God in your family and ministry
    • Avoid the mistakes of family in ministry
    • Giving the impression that others are more important than your family
    • Having time for others but not for family. Do a weekly assessment
    • Treating others better than you treat your family
    • Expecting too much from your family to protect your “image”
    • Being inconsistent, one thing at church and another at home
    • Not exposing family problems in fear that you will jeopardize your “image” before the people. Let them know you are real.
    • Carrying your ministry burdens home with you.
    • Living a life that is too “rushed” – always in a hurry.
    • Building your ministry at the expense of your family. You will regret this!
  • The Goals for the Family in Ministry
    • Spend time with each family member, know them personally.
    • Make your family feel valued and cherished.
    • Instill Godly, Biblical values in their lives.
    • Live by convictions and share why they are Bible-based.
    • Be consistent and genuine, model your faith.
    • Seek the wisdom of God as a family when making decisions.
    • Pray together about needs, rejoice together in answered
    • Serve together with everyone involved. Show it to be exciting.
    • Show appreciation and thankfulness for all things.
    • Be open and honest, don’t pretend to be perfect.
    • Allow room for failure. Admit when wrong and ask for forgiveness.
    • Be forgiving, this is Christ-like.

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5 NEEDS FOR THE RIGHT MEETING PLACE

The right building to meet in can be challenging. It has proven to be one of the most determining factors for guests as they decide to visit and/or return.  

I. The Need for Research
  • Know where people shop. People will go to church where they shop    not where they work
  • Know where the growth is with new homes and/or apartments
  • Know where the crime areas are, or places people usually avoid
  • People will go up in social status areas but will not travel to a lower one. 

 

II. The need for Visibility
  • Location is crucial. Money will be spent on a highly visible place or it will be spent on advertising trying to direct people to a hidden one
  • Try to locate on a high trafficked road
  • Locate near a landmark that people can identify with such as a post office, fire station, Walmart, etc…

        

III. The Need for Aesthetics
  • Good “curb appeal” is critical as it is the first impression
  • It should be easily accessible with parking and walking distance. People are turned off when they have to walk too far or make too many turns to get to the meeting room.
  • It should be safe and well-lit at night
  • Inside should be clean, fresh smelling, and well lit.
  • A carpeted room is best as it absorbs sound.
  • Clean bathrooms are a must
  • Think sight, sound, and smell

 

IV. The Need for a Temporary Place
  • For at least the first two years it’s best to have a temporary location such as a hotel, school, activity center, …etc. The cost is affordable and there is no overhead. This frees up time and money that can be given to evangelism and discipleship.
  • A permanent location too early can be a financial burden with high rent and extra cleaning and maintenance costs. Having the building 24/7 isn’t necessary for several years.

 

V. The Need for Patience
  • Try to stay in the same place for at least the first two years as people will visit from the initial evangelism. Some people will wait at least a year before visiting as they wait to make sure the church will be permanent
  • Staying in one place gives stability to the church and credibility to the community
  • Stay as long as new guests are coming. There is no need to move if there is fruit from outreach
  • Too many church planters have rushed into a land or building project prematurely only to regret it
  • Wait on the Lord and He will bring the right permanent place!

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WHY CHURCHES SHOULD REPRODUCE CHURCHES

Now consider another question for a moment. How are we doing in this process of church planting? Read more

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BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES FOR CHURCHES REPRODUCING CHURCHES

Baptist Church Planting Ministry believes that new churches should be reproduced by a local church and not by a church planter. What we mean by this is that local churches should take an active role in the church planting process and not just a passive role. We believe that every decision should be finalized by the pastor of the reproducing church and not by the one pastoring the new church or by anyone else. This includes Baptist Church Planting Ministry. Whenever we get involved in helping a church reproduce a new church, one of the first things we discuss is who will make all final decisions. We believe that should be done by the pastor of the reproducing church and no one else. This does not mean that the one pastoring the new church or anyone else in the ministry does not have involvement. Everyone is involved; it simply means that since the church is reproducing the church, the pastor of that church should make all final decisions.

 

This philosophy is wonderful to believe, but how does it stand the test of the Word of God? It is important to examine this philosophy in light of the Scriptures.

 

I. THE CHURCH IS A LIVING ORGANISM

Ephesians 5:28-32

First of all, we believe our initial premise that churches should reproduce churches is biblical because the church is a living organism, not an organization. Ephesians 5:28-32 makes it clear that the relationship between Christ and the church is compared to the relationship between a husband and wife. In 1 Corinthians 12, the church is mentioned as a body. Revelation 22: 17, the church is called the “bride.” These verses clearly indicate the church is a living organism.

 

II. ORGANISMS REPRODUCE AFTER THEIR KIND

Genesis 1

Secondly, we believe our initial premise that churches should reproduce churches is biblical because every living organism reproduces “after its kind.” Since the church is a living organism, churches should reproduce churches. In Genesis 1, we find verse after verse talking about living organisms reproducing after their kind. Should the church be exempt from reproducing “after their kind”? We do not think so. Some have tried to say that churches reproduce churches when they send out a missionary to plant a new church. How many organisms reproduce without the active involvement of the parent? Some will say that this eliminates “pioneer church planting,” but we do not believe it does. We believe there are times when a pioneer work needs to be done, but much of the church planting today does not need to be done independently of local churches in the area. The main reason it is done is because the church planter or some other organization wants the control and final authority rather than allowing the local church to fulfill her role in reproducing the new church.

 

When a new church is reproduced, it should be similar to the reproducing church. It does not mean that it will be exactly like the reproducing church. No child is exactly like his parents. He is similar or “after their kind,” but is distinctively different from the parents in many ways. New churches take on the personality of the pastor and the people that attend the new church. Some may give the new church the same name as the reproducing church. This happens in homes as well. We all know children that are named after the father, but it does not mean that it must be so.

 

III. THE GREAT COMMISSION IS GIVEN TO THE LOCAL CHURCH

Matthew 28:16-20

We believe our initial premise that churches should reproduce churches is biblical because the Great Commission is given to the local church to fulfill. In Matthew 28:16-20, it is true that Jesus was talking with His disciples when He gave the commandment to reach this world with the gospel. If He were just giving this to the disciples, then we would not be responsible for the fulfilling of the Great Commission. The disciples are long gone, but we still have the responsibility of reaching this world with the gospel. Some will conclude it is given to individuals to fulfill. We do not believe that individuals have the right to baptize outside the local church. It is an ordinance of the local church and therefore baptism should take place within the confines of the local church. The Great Commission was given to the local church and therefore it is the responsibility of the local church to fulfill it. The Great Commission is not given to church planters, to mission boards, or to any other organization. It is given to the local church.

 

IV. THE GREAT COMMISSION IS CHURCH PLANTING

Matthew 28:18- 20

We believe our initial premise that churches should reproduce churches is biblical because the Great Commission is church planting. We have said many times that the Great Commission is not soul-winning and it is not. Soul-winning is only one third of the Great Commission. According to Matthew 28: 19-20, the Great Commission is evangelize, “teach all nations,” baptize, “baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” and mobilize, “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” This is church planting and nothing short of it. The Great Commission is given to the local church to carry out and implement in reaching this world for Christ.

 

Many churches believe that they can effectively minister a great distance from their local church. They run bus routes as much as thirty miles and more from the local church to bring people to the services. It is wonderful to evangelize these people and win them to Christ. Many of these are also baptized in the local church. This too is commendable, but is still short of fulfilling the Great Commission. We are to “teach them to observer all things” and this can only be done as people are faithful to the local church every time the door is open. When someone lives too far from the local church, they cannot be as faithful as they should be. Therefore, the third part of the Great Commission cannot be fulfilled. The only way to fulfill the Great Commission is to plant a church in the community where these people live so they can attend every service and grow.

 

V. CHRIST TOLD THE LOCAL CHURCH WHERE THEY SHOULD PLANT CHURCHES

Acts 1:8

We believe our initial premise that churches should reproduce churches is biblical because Christ gave the local church the area to reach with the Great Commission when we are told in Acts 1:8 that we are to go into Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth. The Jerusalem church fulfilled this, even though God had to bring about persecution to the church in Jerusalem to carry it out. In Acts 1:8, God scattered the believers in the Jerusalem church into Judea and Samaria by persecution that was brought upon the church. Please notice that only the believers were scattered, not the apostles. In Acts 8:4, they went everywhere preaching the Word. The result of this preaching and dispersion was the reproducing of churches throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria as we see in Acts 9:31. You will also note that the churches were multiplied. This clearly indicates that many churches were reproduced by laymen from the Jerusalem church.

 

In Acts 11: 19, we find these same believers traveling to Phenice, Cyprus, and Antioch where they were now able to preach to the Gentiles. This indicates that the church in Jerusalem developed a philosophy of ministry that included the reproducing of local churches. These laymen were now going out on purpose to reproduce churches. You will also note that the first pastor of this church was Barnabas and he was sent to pastor this church from Jerusalem and by the leadership of the Jerusalem church (Acts 11:22). Thus, the Jerusalem church was responsible for the pastor of the church. He then found Paul and the two of them pastored this church for more than a year prior to their first missionary journey (Acts 11:26). From this church, we have the great mission outreach of the Apostle Paul bringing the gospel to the regions beyond. This clearly indicates that the church at Jerusalem took an active role in reproducing churches.

 

CONCLUSION

Some have suggested that we place too much emphasis on the local church when we get involved in reproducing a new church. We will allow you to draw your own conclusion on this matter. However, we believe just the opposite. We do not think one can give enough emphasis to the

local church in this matter of reproducing churches. It is not the responsibility of the church planter to plant a church. It is not the responsibility of mission boards to plant churches. It is the responsibility of local churches to reproduce churches, and BCPM will do all we can to help the local church fulfill her responsibility in reproducing churches. We believe the Bible backs up our philosophy of churches reproducing churches.


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THE ROLE AND THE AUTHORITY OF THE CHURCH IN CHURCH PLANTING

 “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” (Acts 13:2)

The local church began with Christ and His disciples. The Great Commission of reaching, baptizing and teaching was given to the local church (Matthew 28:18-20). The power to begin at home and go to the uttermost parts of the earth in reproducing herself was given to the local church on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 1:8).

The authority of the local church rests in her head Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:18). We are not building His church; He is building His church (Matthew 16:18). The local, visible, identifiable New Testament assembly of believers follows Christ’s commands through the leadership of His under-shepherd and over-seer, the Pastor (Hebrews 13:17; I Peter 5:1-4).

The Biblical Pastor under Christ is the initiator of His work in the local church. He leads the church in the understanding of its responsibility to reach the world for Christ. He directs the church to become reproducible through building leaders whose lives are reproducible as well. The living organism of the local church thus reproduces after its own kind through division (Acts 8:1,4,5 – example of Philip).

The church at Antioch in Acts 13 sent out men who were called, qualified and capable. They were not looking for somewhere to send someone to be “an encouragement” to them. They were not looking for a place of service elsewhere for those who could not or would not serve effectively in their own local church. Neither were they weary with holding back those with empty zeal to let them “give it a try” (this accounts for many failed church plants). Barnabas and Saul did not go to the church; the Holy Spirit sent the church to them. Called men do not seek leadership; leadership seeks them.

The church is serious about reproducing herself and desiring to bear fruit that remains sends out those men who are faithful and diligent in the Lord’s work already. They have submitted themselves to the leadership of the pastor and had hands on training for an extended period of time. Having proved themselves faithful in all things, God works in both their heart and the pastor’s. The pastor recognizes God’s hand upon their lives and by the leadership of the Holy Spirit discerns the timing of the Lord and His call in sending them out to plant other churches. This leads to successful churches being reproduced.

The wise pastor is not keeping all his best men and sending out the rest. He is training capable men to multiply the work of the Lord; all the while having faith that the Lord of the harvest will send forth laborers to replace them. He is pure in His own motives and not trying to send out too many too soon, so he can boast in “his church-planting efforts.” Not only could these men of character and commitment work on his staff, but he would feel comfortable placing his own family under their ministry.

The wise preacher serving Christ under the leadership of his pastor sees the wisdom of God in honoring one is faithfulness in that which is another man’s. Character is consistent. Diligent service in the laymen areas of ministry qualifies men for opportunities of greater responsibility in the work of the Lord (Luke 16:10-12). God knows where His men are. He sends for them in His time (Psalm 75:5-7; Romans 14:4).

Think of having the call of God and the total support of a pastor and people in establishing a new work. There are many practical and spiritual benefits. A church-planter’s greatest ally under Christ is His under-shepherd who will recognize God’s hand upon his life, be honest with him, instruct, correct and support him (Proverbs 9:8,9; 15:12,14; 24:6).

Some need to move beyond trying to get God and others in on their work. They need to purpose to get in on God’s as they submit to the one who watches for their souls and wants God’s best for them. God at times shows us through our pastor that which we would not have been shown otherwise (Hebrews 13:7).

Opportunities in the Lord’s work depend on the Lord’s timing and our faithfulness. His favor and church planting success comes to those who honor the order which He has established.

“The thoughts (well-laid plans) of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.” (Proverbs 21:5)

 


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THE ROLE OF THE PASTOR IN REPRODUCING A NEW CHURCH

Since we believe that churches reproduce churches and that the responsibility of reproducing a new church rests on local churches and not the church planter or mission agencies, we need to define the role of the pastor of the reproducing church. The reason for this is because God has placed the pastor as the under shepherd of the church and is accountable to God for the direction of the local church.

The local church, as a living organism, is to reproduce just like every other living organism. This reproduction process needs to be controlled by the pastor of the church. When Baptist Church Planting Ministry gets involved in a project, the ultimate control of the project belongs to the pastor of the church that is reproducing the new church. In order for pastors to fulfill the role of being a reproducing pastor, they need to understand what responsibilities are involved.

1. HE IS TO APPROVE THE NEW PASTOR OF THE REPRODUCED CHURCH.

First of all, the pastor of the reproducing church is responsible for approving the pastor of the new church. Since the reproduced church is going to be similar to the reproducing church, the pastor needs to make sure the new pastor is compatible with the philosophy of the reproducing church. He needs to spend a great deal of time with the new pastor to check out his doctrine, his philosophy of ministry, and his attitude as a follower.

The best way for this to be done is an internship program where the new pastor comes into the existing church and spends at least six months to a year working with the reproducing church. This gives not only the pastor but also the congregation the opportunity to get to know this new pastor, his family, and his philosophy of ministry. They will be much more willing to help this man if they have spent time with him and learned to love him and his family. They will do a great deal more for someone they have learned to love and trust rather than someone they have just met.

The pastor of the reproducing church must develop a deep relationship with this new pastor. He needs to determine if he can be trusted and what kind of job he will do as a new pastor. He should be willing to face problems head on rather than hoping they will go away or that they are not serious enough to cause problems in the new church. If there are warning signs during this period there will be problems when he is pastoring the new church. The new pastor should show he is willing to trust the leadership of the reproducing pastor and demonstrate he is to follow his leadership. When the week of meetings is finished and the new church is completely independent of the reproducing church, the new pastor will still need the advice, wisdom, and experience of the reproducing pastor. The best way for this to be developed is for these men to have a close working relationship before the new church is reproduced.

In the end, the pastor determines if this new man can pastor the church that their church will reproduce. He will be held responsible to God for placing this man in a leadership position.

2. HE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR SELECTING THE NEW AREA FOR THE REPRODUCED CHURCH.

The pastor also should be the one who is ultimately responsible for determining where the new church should be located. He has a better understanding of his “Judea and Samaria” than anyone else. He knows of towns where there are no good fundamental churches and where one could be located that would meet the spiritual needs of a nearby community. Most pastors that I know have a real burden to reach beyond their “Jerusalem” and want to see new churches established that could help them reach their entire area. Sadly, some pastors do not want a church too close to them because they are afraid some of their members will go to the new church. These pastors fail to see that God will bless their ministries greatly if they will get involved in reaching beyond where they can effectively minister.

In one situation in which I was involved, the church planter had determined where he wanted to plant a church but the pastor of the reproducing church had a burden for another area. When he realized the final decision rested upon him, they went to the new area to plant the church rather than the one the church planter had decided upon. The church planter believed in the philosophy that churches reproduce churches and was willing to allow the pastor to make this decision. It proved to be the right decision.

3. HE IS TO OVERSEE THE PROJECT FROM START TO FINISH.

Since we believe churches reproduce churches, the pastor must fulfill the role of an overseer. He is responsible for the direction of the church and the church is responsible for the birth of the new church.

The pastor is fully involved in the ministry of the Word, the discipling his people, and taking care of his flock. This is his first and foremost responsibility. He does not need to do the legwork for the new church but he should be sure that those who do the work report to him on how the project is developing.

The pastor has the experience to determine what needs to be done in the new area. He has the experience that the new pastor or others involved in the project do not have. He has lived in the area, knows the people, and knows the differences in culture that new comers do not know. He should approve the buildings used for the project. He should make the final decisions regarding advertising, the distribution of the John and Romans booklets, and when the week of meetings should be held.

These decisions are not made independently of others involved in the project but in conjunction with them. He takes into consideration all the factors involved and makes the final decision. Someone must be the final decision-maker for the project and since we believe the church reproduces the new church that responsibility falls to the pastor of the reproducing church. BCPM and the pastor of the new church can give advice but the pastor ultimately makes the decision and everyone else involved in the project accepts the decisions he makes.

4. HE IS TO APPROVE AND COMMIT THE REPRODUCING CHURCH TO THE BUDGET FOR THE NEW CHURCH.

Like the birth of a baby into a family, the birth of a church takes a good deal of money. A budget should be set up to cover the costs for the new church. This would include the rental of a building for the week of meetings, the meeting place for the new church, the newspaper advertising, the cost of the John and Romans, any shipping costs involved with the John and Romans, costs for distributing the John and Romans, and any other costs involved in the reproducing of the new church. The expenses are different in every area and for every project.

Once the budget is developed, the pastor should make any changes to the budget either adding or reducing costs, as he considers prudent. One consideration that must be made is not to cut the budget short to save money. If the project is worth doing, it is worth doing right. It is not necessary to over spend either. The budget should be discussed between all the parties involved in order to determine the best budget for reaching the new community.

After the pastor approves the budget, it should be adhered to by all involved in the project. No one should go over the budget unless the pastor specifically approves it. The reproducing church should feel responsible for meeting this budget and develop a system of paying for the project. Not all churches can handle this alone and many times churches helping with the project take love offerings and present it to the new church during the week of meetings. Some reproducing churches include the project in their mission’s budget and cover the expenses entirely. When this happens, the offering during the week of meetings can go for something for the new church. Some offerings have been taken for chairs, for a down payment for land, and for a piano. It is impressive to those visiting when it can be announced that the expenses for the starting of the new church have been covered and that an offering is being used for something special for the new church.

The expenses for a new church should not be left to the church planter or for the new church to pay. No parents would expect their newborn babies to pay the hospital expenses for their birth and neither should local churches expect a “newborn” church to cover the expenses for her birth. The pastor of the reproducing church should consider this the responsibility of the reproducing church and make whatever arrangements need to be made to cover the costs for the planting of the church.
 

5. HE IS TO DETERMINE WHICH CHURCHES HELP WITH THE WEEK OF MEETINGS.

The new church is going to be similar to the reproducing church. Because of this, the pastor should determine which churches will be “showcased” during the week of meetings. During the meetings, churches are used to show what the new church is going to be like. They demonstrate music, appropriate dress standards, the spirit and tone for the new church, and credibility for the new pastor. This means that the churches should be similar in practice and doctrine to the reproducing church. The pastor will know which churches in the area are best suited to meet this need. For example, if there are churches that are weaker than the reproducing church in the area of music, the pastor would not use them to bring musical groups. If the new church is in an area where people do not shout during the service, a pastor would not want to invite a church that would give that image.

Only the pastor of the reproducing church will know which churches fit the style and personality that he is trying to portray and therefore, he has the responsibility of determining which churches he would like to attend. This is not to reproduce the idiosyncrasies of any church but to reproduce a church that will fit the culture of the area while honoring Christ in every aspect of the church service. Only the pastor of the reproducing church can fully understand and know which churches will enhance the effectiveness of the week of meetings.

6. HE IS TO MAKE THE BIRTH OF THE NEW CHURCH TOP PRIORITY ON THE CHURCH SCHEDULE.

The pastor of the reproducing church should be sure that there are no conflicts with other activities on the church schedule. When children are born into our personal families, we make sure nothing is going to conflict with the birth of the newborn child. Why should this be any different? This is certainly as important as the birth of children into our families.

The calendar of the church should reflect the priority given to this project of the local church. There should be no special church meetings during or even two weeks prior to the week of meetings for the new church. The church family should be encouraged to keep their schedules clear as well. Time is needed for the distribution of the John and Romans prior to week of meetings and the reproducing church should allow members of their church the opportunity to be at the week of meetings every night they can. This is especially true when there is ample seating room in the building for the week of meetings.

The reproducing church should take the Sunday and Wednesday evening services during the week of meetings. The other churches helping during the week will be less likely to have folks away from their churches on those nights. The pastor of the reproducing church should do his best to be at the services every night of the week of meetings. This is especially important for the visitors that attend during the week. His presence tells them that this meeting is very special and that the new pastor is special too. He should make it a point to visit with every visitor from the area telling them how much he appreciates and supports the new pastor. This could make a difference in whether they will attend the new church and support the new pastor.

He should especially be in the services on the final night when the new pastor is preaching. On this evening, he can introduce the new pastor and formally turn the new work over to the pastor. This is the actual birth of the new church and the new work becomes an independent Baptist church at that point. The final service can be a very special time for the reproducing church and the new church. It is a memory that everyone will remember for a long time. It establishes a special relationship between the two churches that nothing else can.

7. HE IS TO MAKE ALL FINAL DECISIONS IN THE CHURCH PLANTING PROCESS.

In essence, the pastor of the reproducing church is fully responsible for the final decisions in the church planting process. Since we believe that the church is responsible for the reproducing of the new church, then the pastor must make all the final decisions for the project. The wise church planter will be willing to let the pastor fulfill this role. The wise pastor will be willing to assume this role. No pastor who accepts this responsibility does so without understanding the implications of it. He is determining the direction of the new church and the success and failure of the ministry. He should give careful consideration to the advice of others involved in the project. This would include the church planter, BCPM, and other pastors from the area. After gleaning all the information from various sources, the pastor must make the final decision. Others involved in the project would also be wise to submit to his leadership understanding that he will answer to God for the decisions he makes. If they cannot live with his decisions, then they should quietly withdraw themselves from the project.

Following the week of meetings, the new church is a fully independent church with no ties to the reproducing church. The reproducing pastor and other pastors in the area that have helped with the week of meetings only serve in an advisory capacity. The wise church planter will see he needs their experience and wisdom. He should avail himself to their help as he pastors the new church. The reproducing pastor will not force his advice or will on the new pastor but is very willing to help when asked. His authority over the new church ended when the week of meetings ended and the “cord was cut” creating a breathing, living organism This organism is a new local church that has a pastor to lead them and guide them.

CONCLUSION:

The role of the reproducing pastor is a very important role. For the new church to succeed and get off to the best start possible, the pastor must take this responsibility seriously. He is a key to the success and growth of this infant church. May God give us pastors who will seriously consider how important they are to the reproducing of new churches.


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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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