So, you’re called to plant a church. You have a city that God has led you to, a people that you can’t get off your heart, and a vision that you can’t get out of your mind. There’s only one problem. It’s just you. Well, you and your family. This is not a bad thing! Most plants start this way, in the heart of God and in the heart of the planter. But who provides leadership to this budding plant in the early days? If the Bible prescribes a plurality of leaders for the church, where do those leaders come from before the church has any members to speak of, much less leaders?
Episode 49 of The Grind highlighted Saline County planter Ryan Ingold. Before planting Crosspointe Church in Bryant, Ryan was on staff at Geyer Springs Baptist Church just down the road. When the vison for the church began to form, he also formed an advisory team for the church. The advisory team was comprised of a pastor from Geyer Springs (sponsor church), a strategist with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, a core team member from the plant, and another church planter that was 3 years into planting. Desiring to eventually raise up elders for the church, this advisory team was a placeholder until the church was ready. Ingold shared 4 reasons with Dave and Chad for why he started this way.
1. An Advisory Team Protects the Church
Few things are more vulnerable at the start than a new church. Like a newborn baby, without constant care it would be difficult to survive. Setting up an advisory team gives instant protection to the church from those that would seek to hijack it’s vision. Because church plants often reach people who are on the margins, it’s easy for churches to be derailed in the early stages. The team can offer protection for the flock as temporary shepherds.
2. An Advisory Team Has a Vested Interest in the Church
Ingold sought leaders who already had an interest in the church. Strategists, partners, core team members, and other planters wanted the church to thrive and had invested time and resources to make that happen. Planters should seek out those that have a connection to the plant and want to see it succeed. By doing this, it gives partners a front row seat to the maturation process of the new work. While prayer newsletters and email updates are helpful, nothing beats sitting down with the planter and getting updates face to face.
3. An Advisory Team Holds the Planter Accountable
When a planter is alone on the field, the potential pitfalls are enumerable. Financial integrity is of upmost importance given the many streams of support. Early on, planters can have more time on their hands than work to do. The team ensures he is working hard and giving adequate hours to the most important things. Having a group he is accountable to gives the planter, the church, and all partners clarity and peace of mind in supporting the work.
4. An Advisory Team Offers Experience and Expertise
Ingold says that having a convention employee, core team member, partner church pastor, and a planter further down the road than he was, equipped the church with experience and expertise. When a new work is reaching broken people, having mature believers as part of a leadership team is essential. In the early days, plants are working through theological statements, forming systems, structures, and policies, as well as disciple-making strategies. Leveraging the experience and expertise of an advisory board gives the plant a firm foundation from which to begin.
So, you are called to plant a church. That's great! But the leadership of the church doesn't have to fall on your shoulders alone. Gather some partners, a core team member, and form an advisory team to help you in the early stages. You, your church, and your partners will be glad you did!