Sunday, April 15, 2007

Q&A: How (exactly) Will We Plant?

As I mentioned in the Vision Packet that was handed out at the State of the Church Address in January (you can swing by the office and request one if you didn't pick one up), there are a variety of methods that are used by churches that want to plant new churches.

  • Daughtering--One church giving birth to another fully separate congregation
  • Partnering--Two or more churches working together to launch a new congregation
  • Multi-Campus--One church, meeting in more than one location
  • Satellite--One church, developing an off-site ministry with the goal of developing that ministry into a new church
So far, there has still been no decision made as to which method we might use, but this is probably the next decision on the horizon as we move forward with this vision. Initially, the elders and I were thinking primarily of the daughtering model, but as we have gained more familiarity with the world of church planting, we are discussing the other models as well. They each come with their pros and cons, so we need to evaluate each one in light of the situation of our church.

Right now, we are discussing the Partnering model as the probable way for us to go. Here are several reasons why:
  • Working with other churches enables us to share the cost (investing people, leadership, and money), rather than absorbing it all ourselves. This means that we can be involved in church planting sooner; we don't need to first grow into a large church if there are others who are helping carry the load.
  • Working with other churches enables us to plant more often. With multiple churches spreading the burden around, the recovery time is less painful and takes less time. This means that after our first plant, we will hopefully be ready to plant again after a short while.
  • Working with other churches makes a statement to the community of Jackson and the world about the unity of our churches. It demonstrates that we are on the same team, rather than competitors with one another. The priority is to build the Kingdom of God, not one individual church's empire.
  • Working with other churches makes it easier to ignite a spiritual movement in Jackson County. By bringing more churches on board, it means more people are praying, more people are contributing, more people are invested and involved. More people working together is a more powerful spiritual force.
  • Working with other churches makes sense, considering the various networks of churches that already exist in Jackson County, such as the Emmaus Community, Allies Youth Pastors Network, and the Intercessors of Jackson County. These can potentially be used to build a network of churches united behind the vision of church-planting.
  • Working with other churches is the method that is recommended by our denomination's Director of Church Multiplication, Tom Blaylock. He has been involved with other teams of churches that have partnered together for the purpose of church planting and has seen some amazing results that have come out of such networks.

There are some challenges that come with partnering as well. It's not all sunshine and roses. Different churches will probably have different ideas about what kind of a church to plant. There may be disagreements about doctrine, or who should be the planting pastor. There is also the issue of leadership--in any sort of venture like this, someone needs to be the pointperson, and that in itself can create friction.

It's certainly possible that by the end of our discussion, we may decide to go with a different model. Please continue to pray for us that God would grant us wisdom and order our steps. Yet I am cautiously excited that God's plan may include tearing down denominational boundaries that have separated us, and that many churches across Jackson County may be united in working together to advance his kingdom! Above all, please keep praying for God's will, and that whatever path we choose would be the best one for bringing him the greatest glory and honor.

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