How can a church that has never been involved in church planting become a church planting church? Many churches aren’t sure where to even begin this journey. Some churches dive right into church planting by sending out one of their own to plant a new church. This usually involves investing a significant amount of resources into the planter and rallying behind him. But this often ends poorly as the existing church frequently ends up disillusioned with church planting all together when their ill-equipped church planter fails. Sending out a church planter from your church is not the best first step in becoming a church planting church. This transition takes time. But, there is hope! I have put together a step by step strategy that if followed could turn your church into a church planting machine. You can’t become a church planting church overnight, so don’t be in a hurry. But by following these steps over time your church will be positioned to make a great impact through church planting.
1. Assess and Re-Define Your Church Missions Strategy/Philosophy
Many churches do International Missions well. Other churches do local outreach well. But few churches model their missions strategy after the three-fold holistic pattern of Acts 1:8.
Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
In Acts 1:8 we see:
Three aspects to Church Missions:
- Local Missions: Jerusalem – Ministry to our city, Mercy ministries, Local outreach etc.
- Domestic Missions: Judea and Samaria – Domestic Church planting
- International Missions: to the Ends of the Earth: Beyond our borders – International Missions
Many churches are involved in various parts of these three aspects but few churches have combined them under one holistic strategy and are committed to prioritizing each. Does your church prioritize all three of these missions aspects? One of the three is church planting. Church planting is missions. In order to become a church planting church, you must believe that church planting is an essential part of the missions call. Need more convincing? Tim Keller has argued that Church Planting is the most effective evangelistic strategy that exists. Why Plant Churches Tim Keller. If you are committing to become a church planting church, you must emphasize church planting as a part of your missions strategy. Take some time and re-align your church missions strategy to include all three priorities of Acts 1:8.
2. Allocate a certain percentage of your annual budget for church planting.
Now that you have made a decision to emphasize all three aspects of missions, the next step is to allocate resources for each. How much will be allocated for missions overall? How will this be split among the three different aspects of church missions? Answering these questions will move you toward becoming a church planting church:
- What percentage of your annual budget will you allocate to missions?
- How will you divide your missions budget among local missions, domestic missions, and international mission?
When I was leading Sojourn Network, we encouraged our church plants to allocate 15% of their overall budgets to missions-5% to each of these three areas. Whatever you decide, keep in mind that there is no such thing as a church planting church that does not allocate a significant amount of financial resources for church planting.
If you accomplish these first two goals in year one, you have made major progress. Once you have finished these first two steps, you can now move on to years 2-5.
3. Partner with other churches in supporting church planter(s).
What should you do with your newly freed up church planting resources? I suggest at this point partnering with others in supporting a church planter or planters. This could include
- A few churches that together collaborate to fully fund a church planter.
- Being a part of an association where you can partner together to support a church planter or planters
Think of this as a church planting mutual fund. Rather than trying to fund a church planter by yourself, look to partner in doing so. Not sure where to get started here? Feel free to comment below the post I can give you more suggestions.
4. Adopt and support an existing church planter.
Alongside step three I also recommend that a church adopt and build a relationship with an existing church planter. This could be in coordination with step three. Here are some ways you can do this.
- Choose a church planter to get behind.
- Offer financial support to that planter.
- Build a relationship with the church planter you have chosen.
- Look for ways to bless the church planter and his family. (Consider budgeting to bless him and his family monthly in some way)
- Allow the church planter to preach a couple of times per year.
- Keep the church plant in front of your church as a part of your missions committment. (Monthly communication etc.)
5. Allow 5 years to build a church-planting ethos in your church.
If your church has not had involvement in church planting in the past, it is difficult to become a church planting church in a year. Many church members have had no previous exposure to church planting. It takes time to build or change culture. Give your church and people time to make this transition. During this first 5 years:
- Be Consistent in your Financial Commitment
- Be Consistent in your Communication about Church Planting
If you follow these first few steps over a five-year period, your church will have included church planting in you overall missions strategy, supported church planters, learned about church planting, and helped launch one or more new churches. The congregation has seen your commitment to church planting for several years. Now you are ready to move into years 6 and beyond.
Years 6 and Beyond
6. Do a church-planting residency with a future church planter.
- 12-18 month period of time where a planter is prepared and then is sent out by the church
- This may be a person from inside your congregation or someone who you bring in from outside.
7. Hire staff with the aim of sending them out to plant after 3-5 years.
- Build a culture as a sending church
- Recruit staff with this incentive
8. Work with the support of a good association for assessment, training, coaching etc.
Have something to add or a question to ask? Feel free to comment!
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