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How can I get involved in church planting?

November 28, 2011

There are many ways to respond for those who sense the calling of Jesus to plant churches that share His good news with those who so desperately need to hear. As you pursue the ways he has gifted you and the passions that he has laid on your heart, you can get some idea of how you can be involved and where or among what people group you should be involved.

The greatest level of involvement anyone can pursue is to go and start a church planting church yourself. This means actually becoming a catalytic church planter. Perhaps you are already in ministry and have a desire to be closer to the “front lines.” Or maybe you have become a leader in your church and are sensing God’s confirmation of pursuing ministry bi-vocationally. We strongly encourage those considering church planting to complete a church planting assessment given by a denomination or network committed to Jesus’ mission. One example of such an assessment would be the First Steps Assessment Center presented by the New Work Development Team of the Chicago Metropolitan Baptist Association that the consultants of ScatterUs Ministries assist them in providing. Any good assessment center will give you a sense of what way you should pursue church planting, and not merely a decision of approval or disapproval.

For the majority of you who have not been called to lead a church planting team as a catalytic planter, some of you may be able to get involved in a new church that is being started and learn to become part of the church planting team. Every new church needs people who will volunteer to pursue the vision of the lead planter towards accomplishing the mission of reaching a community or people group. If you hear of a new church being started by your church or denomination in your area please prayerfully consider committing to help that new church directly for at least a year.

For the majority of you who are neither called to be a catalytic team leader, or a member of a new church team, please consider the following other ways you can be directly involved in church planting by supporting an individual church plant:

Church planters, whether full-time or bi-vocational, no matter what strategy or model they have chosen, are always in need of financial support for their church’s general budget and material support towards their outreach endeavors. Direct financial support may seem to be the least connected way of encouraging a church planter, but in many ways it is the most important. Often the level of financial support a church planter receives directly effects if they are able to stay on that field or take the next step in their strategy. In center-city or urban centers the living expenses can be astronomical. Bi-vocational work is usually not enough to meet the needs of their families and can be very difficult to secure in this economy. However God calls you to be involved in church planting, we pray that He leads you to directly invest financially in church plants as an offering to Him above your tithes to your local church. Please also consider discussing the possibility of direct financial assistance with your church’s missions committee. Often it is difficult for churches to imagine the need for missions giving beyond their denominational projects or people who have been sent out from their local congregation.

Church plants many times have a plethora of outreach opportunities with few hands to assist in their projects. Planning a mission trip from your church is an excellent way to engage your people missionally, and build a strong relationship with a church planter. Remember, your team will benefit far more from the trip than the planter ever will, as they learn to humbly serve and experience ministry in a setting different than your own. When engaging in a missions trip, remember to respect the strategy of the local church planter. He has already spent a good deal of time, effort, and prayer, developing an approach that is appropriately contextualized to his setting. Follow his lead in the projects that he desires to be done, rather than coming with your own agenda. Look for ways your giftedness can bless his strategic plan. Realize that some of your projects will seem menial, or may not make sense to you in your setting, but will have great strategic value for the planter. Also, keep your eyes open, because some of the projects will be ones you will be able to implement on your own home mission field. Finally, do not expect the church planter to pay for any of projects or any of your own expenses. Calculate that cost into the basic cost of the trip, and plan to the leave the new church with a generous further donation on your departure.

We are instructed by the Scriptures to be praying for “all the saints.” This need to pray for our Christian brothers and sisters certainly includes new works! Remember, their prayer resources are often very limited as well. They do not have a well established traditional prayer ministry. They are often facing serious spiritual warfare challenges with precious few assets to deal with those issues. Find ways to connect with them frequently and intercede on their behalf before the Father. Call them, or text them often to let them know that you are praying for their specific needs. Commit to pray for them if they have a prayer team or prayer strategy. Ask to get their newsletter. Ask for specific prayer requests. Often church planters assume that the only reporting you will want from them are statistical results. Ask them instead for the stories that are demonstrating the movement of the Holy Spirit in their setting. Pray along the lines that the Spirit is already moving.

These are just a few pointers in the basic care and maintenance of your new church planter. Remember, they are frail and often broken human beings who God has called to be on a journey that is far beyond their own capabilities. Often they are standing on nothing but faith…. and sometimes only hope. They are hobbits being swept along in a great story. Be as gentle and encouraging as you can be with these heroes of the Kingdom.

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