As I work with replanters across the country at various stages of their experience, I have found two things to be true in almost every situation. First, based on the church’s budget and the human resources of his parishioners, the replanter is unable to accomplish everything that needs to get done. And second, they oftentimes don’t know about all the benefits that come from our denomination when it comes to partnership opportunities.
Being part of a denomination with more than 40,000 churches means that you won’t always agree with everything everyone does, but the advantages of being in a denomination like ours provides us with many benefits that some younger pastors may not even know about.
Local associations – Although the small percentage of mega-churches within our denomination have probably left their local associations behind, there is great value here for pastors of normative-sized churches that make up the bulk of our denomination. The effectiveness of your association will be determined by the Director of Missions and we are finding that many local associations are experiencing great camaraderie in regard to replanting and revitalization. Don’t just go into a partnership with your local association for what you can get out of it, but rather go in with the desire to bless and encourage other pastors from your community. If we can do more together than any of us can do alone, the local association is where you should see this playing out on a regular basis. You may find that your local association has disaster relief resources like shower trailers, feeding units, or laundry units. Or they may have access to items you can use for block parties or other outreach events in your community. I’ve personally found that surveying the churches in my association helps me identify vendors to use for various projects around our church campus, as well as identifying Christians lawyers or CPAs for needs that come up from time to time.
State conventions – On a larger scale, our state conventions serve as a resource for a pastor in a normative-sized church. From hosting conferences and events you might not be able to host on your own to greater access to tools and resources, the state convention is a great place to seek help when you are faced with a need you can’t meet on your own. I worked with one of our state convention staff members on issues we had at our 100+ year old building. He is well networked and was able to connect me with individuals and other congregations to help us get some urgent issues addressed. You may find your state convention has grants for outreach ideas that may not fit into your general budget. They may have resources to help you and your wife offset the cost of marital counseling. As a pastor of a normative-sized church, don’t write off the potential blessing of being an active partner with your state convention.
Disaster relief – State conventions have disaster relief teams that have been trained for some specific roles and tasks. When they aren’t deployed on-site following a disaster, you may find they are willing to do drills or practice runs alongside your congregation. Typically they are trained in feeding units, tarping roofs, chainsaw teams and laundry units. If your church could benefit from one of these teams, you may want to reach out to the disaster relief point of contact and see if they are able to meet your need.
Send Relief – Send Relief focuses on specific areas where we can be used by God to bring the hope of Christ to our neighbors in need, both in North America and around the world. Since our churches are commanded to help “the least of these,” I would highly encourage you to reach out to the folks from Send Relief to find out how they can equip you for what God has called you to do. You can contact them at sendrelief.org.
Brothers, God has called us to a difficult task that often leaves us feeling like no one can empathize with us. I want you to know that you are not alone. If God has given you a vision for something that is beyond you, or if you are facing a need that is beyond your ability to fix, remember that we are a denomination built on cooperation. Don’t hesitate to reach out and seek help, knowing that God will provide for your needs and it may come from another church in your city or in your state.
Published July 27, 2022