Fueling Kingdom at your church plant

Josh Tovey grew up near Grand Rapids, Michigan, and as he would drive 12 miles to church each week, he would pass at least a dozen churches on the way.

“It’s a highly religious area — the ‘Bible Belt of the North’,” he said. “It’s high-churched but low-gospel — a highly moralistic community. The tension is that people often think their salvation depends on them.”

This cultural landscape helped shape Redemption Church’s DNA, a church Tovey and two teammates planted in 2015 — a church that has already multiplied with three other church plants.

Here are three factors Tovey said were a part of becoming a multiplying church plant.

1. Preach the gospel — it fuels Kingdom.

Tovey said his team has had a “heartbeat for Kingdom and multiplication” from the beginning. They started as a close group who were all living with their in-laws and fundraising to get Redemption Church off the ground.

“It was a huge step of faith,” Tovey said. “God paved the way before us.”

But even though they worked so well together, staying together was never the goal — multiplying was.

“It’s not about our own kingdom, it’s about the Kingdom of Jesus,” Tovey said.

First, preaching the gospel in his context shows the people of the “Bible Belt of the North” that they can’t do anything to earn their own salvation. It also points out the other gods they may have.

“In preaching the gospel, we are always preaching against the idols of our city,” Tovey said.

Preaching the gospel message also “fuels being part of something bigger than yourself,” he said. At the core of that is sending out your best to plant other churches.

Not too long after they planted, they sent out their first church planting intern to plant Transformation Church in the Detroit area. Redemption is also sending out church planter Nate Sharpe to plant Catalyst Church in Adrian, Michigan, in the fall of 2021, and sending out Jamison Bebiak to plant Convergent Church in Owosso, Michigan, in early 2022.

The church is also excited about launching its own residency for church planters this fall, which means by the end of Redemption’s sixth year they’ll have planted four churches and launched a residency program.

2. Have healthy relationships with churches in your city.

It’s important to have healthy relationships with the churches you plant, but also other churches, Tovey said. Put in work to cultivate those relationships and remember that it’s OK to be different.

He said that helps him and his church see other churches as partners and not as competitors building their own kingdoms. He tells people he wants to see them be where God wants them to be, and he keeps a list of several other churches he has good relationships with so he can give those recommendations if Redemption Church isn’t a good fit for them.

“We’re OK to say, ‘Maybe God’s calling you elsewhere, that’s OK, or to be part of another body in our city,’” Tovey said.

3. Start being generous from the moment you plant.

When you’re trying to get a new church off the ground, every penny matters, Tovey said. That can make it tough to send money outside the walls of the church.

But he believes modeling that kind of Kingdom generosity from the beginning matters.

“From the very beginning, before we were self-sustaining, we were sending money out the door to other church plants,” Tovey said. “Those things ingrained Kingdom in people’s minds and was a tangible way to say we’re part of something bigger than ourselves.”

That’s also why they are a part of Send Network and why they give to the Cooperative Program. They also highlight a church plant in a different part of the city or nation every fifth Sunday and take up a dollar offering at the door to support that plant. Though they only ask for a dollar, people often give more.

“I think that kind of giving is very important,” Tovey said. “From the beginning, we wanted to have a gospel focus and missional outlook, and generosity was kind of leading the way.”

Published June 10, 2021