5 Ways Your Church Can Engage in Church Planting
By Chad Grigsby, church planting strategist for the ABSC Church Planting Team
Most churches think that they have nothing to offer when it comes to church planting. The task seems intimidating at best or impossible at worst. One of my favorite quotes about life in general, but church planting specifically, is from Wayne Cordeiro. His practical advice is to “Start small, but start now.” In other words, don’t let the enormity of your calling from God overwhelm you and keep you from acting on it. The best way is to do what we can now, even if it’s small from our perspective.
The following ways outline how your church can take the first steps to engage in church planting.
Whether you know it or not, when your church gives through the Cooperative Program you are supporting church planting. Your giving goes to support church planting here in Arkansas in partnership with other Arkansas Baptist churches and the ABSC. Your gifts through CP helps start new works in key cities all over North America through the North American Mission Board. It also goes to support church planting around the world through the International Mission Board. When you give, you are supporting the mission of God in church planting across the street and around the world.
Another way that you can specifically give to support church planting is through the statewide Dixie Jackson Missions Offering every September. A portion of your giving through Dixie Jackson goes directly to supporting church planting in the state of Arkansas.
Don’t overlook the impact you can have by simply giving to your local church’s efforts to support the Cooperative Program and other special offerings. Every church can be involved in giving to church planting.
It sounds cliché or even obligatory, but it remains true. Prayer cannot be overemphasized in church planting. We often assume this and ask for it, but we need to be more active in it. Praying for and with a church planter is one of the greatest blessings to him, his family, and his church.
But we shouldn’t just pray for a planter from afar. Have the planter to your church. Allow him to share the story of how God called him to plant and what the vision for the new work is. Pray for him during one of your worship services and commission him out as an extension of your church. Have him back regularly to give updates and to pray over him again. Another prayer strategy in church planting is prayer walking. This allows your church not only to have the planter to your church but also allows your church to visit the planter’s context as well.
You might feel limited in what your church can do in church planting, but every church, no matter of size and budget, can pray. In church planting, we have to stop saying what we can’t do and start doing what we can! Prayer is a great way to begin the partnering process in church planting. Many churches that partner financially and in other ways began by only praying. Every church can pray for and with a planter.
Isolation is probably the biggest enemy of the church planter. Loneliness is a common struggle for any minister but especially planters. A church that provides a relationship to a church planter is a great encouragement to him. You can encourage a planter without any type of financial investment. Have small groups or Sunday school classes adopt a planter to send birthday and anniversary cards to. Simply send “thinking of you” cards periodically throughout the year. No encouragement is too small.
Providing gift cards on their birthdays and anniversaries is a practical, inexpensive way to encourage a planter. Financial margin is not common among planters, so providing spending money is a special way to bless them. When we were planting, there were times when someone would send us a $25 gift card to a local restaurant. Because we didn’t always have money for eating out, those gift cards enabled us to have date nights that we wouldn’t have always had otherwise. Whether you encourage a planter with small financial gifts or in inexpensive ways, every church can encourage a church planter.
In addition to giving, praying, and encouraging planters, churches can also partner in church planting. There are many ways to partner, but the ABSC has identified two main ways.
The first is by being a sending church. A sending church is a mother church. They are committing to give significant financial funds to the planter for a minimum of 2–3 years. This could be anywhere from $50 to $1000 a month or more. They also commit to praying for the planter actively, encouraging them regularly and helping with any needs they have as they plant. A sending church enjoys a close relationship to the planter and the plant. They provide coaching and accountability, as well as administrative help. Often, a sending church will help provide a place for funding for the plant to come as they get started. Sending churches are primary partners that engage the plant on every level possible.
Knowing that every church is not able to partner at this high of a level, there is also a need for supporting churches. If your church can’t do all of the above, maybe you can do some of the above. Every plant has “wish list” items that they need for the new church. This can range from a laptop computer to a trailer for hauling and storing sound equipment. It can include children’s ministry supplies to a portable baptistery. The needs vary greatly from plant to plant.
When I was planting, I remember our church provided a keyboard for a plant in Little Rock and chairs for a plant in Conway. We also gave $250 a month to a couple of planters. Your church might not be able to do everything, but every church can do something to partner with a plant.
Finally, don’t miss the opportunity to participate in the life of a plant. Don’t just give, go! Send some of your church to the launch of a plant. Some of your people’s presence at that first public worship service will be a huge encouragement to a planter. You could even offer to provide childcare for the first month of the plant’s services. Be creative and offer to help in any way the planter needs it or requests it.
Also, sending short-term teams is another great way to participate in the life of a plant. Whether it’s prayer walking, door-to-door surveys, Backyard Bible Clubs, or block parties, your church can serve. Ask the planter what teams they can use and begin planning your first trip.
Another way to participate in the plant is to offer your people to go with him. Ask who in your congregation is feeling led to move to the planter’s area (if out of your immediate context). Church plants often minister to and attract broken people with many needs. Having mature believers who are a part of the plant’s core team can be life giving. It’s well documented that church plants with strong core teams have a better chance of thriving than those that don’t. Every church can participate in church planting.
So, no matter your church’s size or budget, it can be involved in church planting. How can your church take the next steps to engage with a plant or planter? Start small, but start now! Every church can.