Starting a planter care team, Part 1

What is a CPCT?

Our Church Planter Care Team (CPCT) is a group of members who, on behalf of our church, make it their responsibility to support and encourage families we send to spread the gospel. We want to be the first people they message with a God-story because they know we will celebrate with them. We also want them to call us when trouble comes, knowing we will be the first to respond with prayer and help. Our purpose: to do gospel work by loving the families doing gospel work so God might be glorified.

Why does your church need a CPCT?

In my experience, church planters who give up on the ministry usually feel a sense of despair brought on by severe isolation. One church planter I worked with a few years ago explained in his resignation letter:

“I’m not suggesting that spreading the gospel or seeking to establish healthy churches in difficult places is wrong or ineffectual; I simply contend I have been going about it the wrong way. Indeed, it has long been my heartfelt conviction that churches plant churches; however, even though it was never my intention to employ a “parachute drop” church planting model (and despite the fact that several churches are supporting our work), that is in effect what this has become.”

A Church Planter Care Team is responsible for supporting church planters and their families so they never feel this sort of isolation. Without someone specifically responsible for this task, it will go undone, and your planters will feel disconnected and forgotten.

Unfortunately, “out of sight” is often “out of mind,” and churches sometimes neglect to visit, support, and encourage those they send once the newness of their commissioning has worn off. A care team is a way of being intentional about the work of supporting those we send.

Four ideas to get started

So, how do we begin to put the structure in place to support those we send? Here are four ideas to get you started.

Organize a team. Find others who are passionate about the work. You need a team of people to bounce ideas off of and divide the burden of monthly tasks. If at all possible, recruit those who have experienced the difficulties of church planting firsthand to serve. Kate (who co-authored this article with me) is a member of my church and the daughter of a church planter. When it came time to organize a structured way to support our church planters and their families, she was the natural choice to lead the team.

Gather data. Get all the information you’ll need to celebrate the important moments and milestones in their personal and ministry lives. This includes, but is not limited to, church anniversaries, children’s birthdays, wedding anniversaries, home addresses, and a current photo.

Make a plan. This is where you sit down with your team and map out how you will intentionally support your church planters each month.

Get started. Do it. Jump in. Get started. And continually evaluate your effectiveness.

10 practical suggestions

Remember that team you assembled? Make it your goal to meet monthly to decide how you will support your church planters and their families. This looks differently for each church. Here are 10 ideas my team uses.

  • Pray corporately. There’s a segment in our church’s regular worship service that we call “Church Planter of the Week.” It’s a time when we highlight church planter, share specific prayer requests, and celebrate progress updates with the congregation. The regular practice of praying publicly for planters will insure someone from your team is regularly contacting them for updates and prayer requests.
  • Send gifts. Send birthday presents to the church planters’ children. The gifts don’t need to be extravagant, but kids love getting stuff in the mail!
  • Involve members. Bring addressed and stamped envelopes and ask a church member to write a word of encouragement and drop it in the mail.
  • Use media. Use your church’s social media account to remind the body to pray for your church planters.
  • Celebrate wins. Show pictures and videos from successful outreach events and baptisms. Celebrate milestones and exciting news from your church planters in your worship services and prayer meetings.
  • Encourage dates. Send a gift card for a date night and provide babysitting.
  • Visit them. Solicit members to visit their worship services to offer encouragement on behalf of the church.
  • Help in hardship. Inevitably, something is going to go wrong on the field. A child breaks an arm, a crash totals the family car, a family illness requires travel. This is your opportunity to show them you love them and are there for them! Budget some money and have it on standby for when it is needed.
  • Invite them. It’s important that your congregation has an opportunity to hear from and interact with your church planters with some regularity.
  • Pray. Make it your job to keep the church planters on everyone’s mind. When you are in a meeting and somone asks for prayer requests, remind the people to pray for the planting families. Mention them in your own prayers, and ask specific people to pray for specific matters as they arise.

Don’t let this list of ideas limit you. Get creative and find personal ways to support the families you send.

Published March 26, 2018