Planters and Replanters need each other

By Brad O'Brien

“Too often we live in the midst of seclusion rather than brotherhood.”

The other day I heard a church planter use the phrase “it is easier to give birth than it is to raise the dead”. The planter that said it just mentioned it flippantly and had no idea that I was in the midst of replanting a church, but something about this pithy saying caused me to think.

God is able to start new churches and save dying church
The young man that used the phrase intended it to be a defense of his calling to plant a church, but I found it to reveal a lack of faith. Now let me be the first to say that the young man I was listening to may very well be called by God to plant a new church in his community and the best thing for him, his wife, his community and his future church is for him to be faithful to his calling. But on the other hand it seemed as though he was taking the “easy” path rather than taking time to consider if God might possibly call him to the more “difficult” work of raising a church from the dead.

Having done the work of planting a church and doing the work of replanting a church I have experienced that God is sovereign over both. If we believe in God’s sovereignty should we not believe that He is both sovereign over the starting of new churches as well as the “resurrecting” of dead churches? If we foolishly believe that God is only interested in the starting of new churches then our shortsightedness causes us to miss the fact that He is still jealous for His glory in the churches that were planted 160 years ago too.

Brotherhood is better than seclusion
The guys on the replant side of things aren’t free from guilt, as they like to toss around their favorite phrase “church planting is for wimps” for a few guaranteed laughs. Sadly, I have found that these trite axioms are often times reflective of seclusion between planters and replanters. I can only imagine the potential power that could grow out of brotherhood between those planting churches and those replanting churches if we just stopped to honor one another by listening to each other.

The biblical motivation for planting churches is the glory of God. Likewise, the biblical motivation for replanting a dying church is the glory of God. Planters and replanters both want the same goal, but too often we live in the midst of seclusion rather than brotherhood.

A better way
If you are planting, maybe you could search out a guy doing the work of replanting in your city. Share with him some of the new stats you have researched to get to know your community. Give him insight into the church planting world and build a relationship with him. If you are replanting you should take some time to find a planter in your city. See if he needs a building to meet in for his launch team or preview services. See if you can connect with some efforts to bless your community. Allow your experiences to help prepare the planter for what life will look like once he has a congregation.

Since I arrived in Baltimore back in 2013 there have been at least 5 churches from our network that have closed their doors for good. The need for planting churches and replanting churches will not pass away until Jesus comes back. As we wait, I hope and pray that we live and minister in light of God’s jealousy for His glory in His church.

Published November 24, 2015

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Brad O'Brien

Brad O'Brien and his family moved to Baltimore, Maryland, to plant a church in the heart of the city, after serving on staff at the Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina, for 10 years. Ultimately God led them to merge their church plant with an existing church that had been established in 1855. Brad and his wife, Jena-Marie, have been married for 11 years and they are the proud parents of three little girls. They are expecting their fourth child in May 2019. The O'Briens love city life and the replanting journey they have been on for the past five years.