Stages in Replanting a Church: Planting

By Bob Bickford

And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how.”
Mark 4:26-27

Previously, we highlighted the importance of the hard work of plowing in the process of replanting a church. Once you’ve plowed–it’s time to plant.

Planting is faithfully casting or sowing the seed of the gospel into the lives of the people and the culture of your church.

Often for those in a declining church the gospel is simply the message of Christ’s life death and resurrection. It’s the way to a relationship with God and it sometimes stops there. In the book, The Gospel Centered Life, by Bob Thune and Will Walker offer this:

“Many Christians live with a truncated view of the gospel…(the gospel) is not just the means of our salvation, but the means of our transformation. It is not simply the deliverance form sin’s penalty, but the release from sin’s power. The gospel is what makes us right with God (justification) and it is also what frees us to delight in God (sanctification).”

While the reasons behind a church’s decline are often multiple, layered and complex they are ultimately the result of the lack of understanding and growth in the gospel.

A replanter must do the important work of casting gospel seeds in every member, process, program and policy of the church.

In Creature of the Word, Geiger, Chandler and Patterson offer this helpful insight on how the gospel impacts programming:

“Because church programs communicate, we must consciously bring the gospel to bear on them. Perhaps in analyzing your programs, you’ll discover that you schedule activities or programs because of guilty obligation. The gospel, on the other hand, frees us from feverish attempts to appease God with religious activities. The gospel frees us to say no and to rest from our work because we trust His finished work.”

A replanter sows gospel seeds through:

  • Faithfully proclaiming the gospel from God’s word
  • Dedicating time and energy to disciple making via personal relationships
  • Examining and evaluating all aspects of church life in light of the gospel
  • Extending the gospel message beyond the walls of the church through the empowering its members to love and serve their community by&nbspdemonstrating and declaring the hope we have in Christ

Sowing is followed by waiting and waiting by growing–and all this is often a mystery to the replanter.

Be faithful in sowing, be patient in waiting and God will grow the church.


Published December 21, 2021

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Bob Bickford

Bob Bickford is a Replant Pastor in suburban St. Louis, serves as the Associate Director of Replant for the North American Mission Board and is the co-author of Am I a Replanter,  Pathways to Partnership and the Associational Replanting Guide. Follow Bob on twitter @bobick