Leaving the nest
When I left Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2007 to go play college basketball at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, my relationship with my parents began to look different. Notice that I didn’t say our relationship became different; I just said it began to look different. The primary reason for the difference was simply that I now lived on the other side of the country, rather than under the same roof. This didn’t change the fact that they were still my parents, nor did it mean that they loved me any less. What it did mean is that we would see each other a lot less and that frequent communication needed to become that much more of a priority.
In a very similar way, when a Sending Church (or what we call a “momma church”) gives birth to a new church and sends it out to function in their own autonomous way, the relationship may look different than it once was, but it doesn’t mean that the relationship is different. For example, we at WALK Church, have a Sending Church in our city by the name of Hope Church, led by Vance Pitman. While apprenticing at Hope Church, I was privileged to have my own office space, be included in various staff meetings throughout the week and have direct access to fellow leaders and staff members within the Hope Church family.
Yet, shortly after our church officially launched in September of 2015, I returned my key to their office space and it was no longer necessary for me to participate in Hope Church staff meetings. With that said, our relationship looked different, but that doesn’t mean it was different. Hope Church remains our momma church who loves us, prays for us and is there for us. We just no longer share the same roof. This meant that we needed to establish clear and frequent communication with our Hope family all the more.
Clear communication is healthy communication
As our church is now approaching a year-and-a-half old, I can reflect on several times within this past year that I have kept in frequent contact with our Sending Church. I’ve personally taken it upon myself to invite key leaders, like pastor Travis Ogle, the senior executive pastor at Hope Church, to help us navigate through staffing and stewardship decisions. I recently shared an edifying conversation over the phone with pastor Vance Pitman that came at just the right time. One of the worship pastors from Hope Church visited our Sunday service this past month, just to say hello and let us know they are praying for us and cheering us on. It’s these types of communication moments that remind us that just because our relationship looks different than it once was, it doesn’t mean that our relationship is any less powerful.
Wisdom to church planters
I’ve realized that our Sending Church enjoys receiving updates and prayer requests in order to stay in the loop with what’s going on at our church. We can’t expect our Sending Churches to know exactly how to pray for us or what our needs may be without us letting them know. With that said, we’ve made sure to include them in all of our reports that we send out—as well invite their wisdom into the major decisions we face as a church. Sending Churches are God’s gift to church plants. We must make sure we take advantage of all the rich resources and wisdom they have to offer. The only way for church plants to soak up these resources is by establishing clear and consistent communication.