Some years ago, the movie “Chariots of Fire” introduced the world to an Olympic champion and missionary named Eric Liddell. At one point in the movie, there was intense conversation between Liddell and his sister of whether he should go on to the Olympics or begin fulfilling his calling as a missionary. In one of those made-for-Hollywood moments, Liddell looked at his sister and made the statement, “I believe God made me for a purpose but He also made me fast…and when I run, I feel His pleasure.” When he ran, he sensed God being glorified.
I am pretty sure my purpose is not running, as God did not make me fast! I do believe everyone is created for a purpose, as well as every church. Part of that purpose for the church is to give birth to other churches. Things that are alive reproduce living things of like nature. The church that is a Sending Church is living out that God-created purpose of producing something of like nature.
Utilizing a running theme, we have looked at what it means in equipping a Sending Church to reproduce. First , they must “get ready” by creating culture and calling out those to go. Secondly, to “get set” means to have a clear destination, a path to run and the allocation of energies necessary to start. Finally, it is time to “go!”
I do believe everyone is created for a purpose, as well as every church. Part of that purpose for the church is to give birth to other churches.
Now that a planter has been sent, what do you do as a Sending Church in this stage?
KEEP THEM RUNNING
I still remember my parents alongside of the track yelling and encouraging me to run. I remember moments in my first marathon when I was ready to call it quits and seeing and hearing my daughters yelling, “Go daddy…you can do this!” As a Sending Church, keep them running by:
• Engaging with them. Phone calls, text messages, video’s, and of course, sending people to serve, will keep them going. It also serves to strengthen the Sending Church within the congregation.
• Replenishing them. In long races like marathons, there are stations for water and energy supplements to replenish your strength. Be that kind of church! Bringing the planter and family back to preach once a year, sending them a Christmas gift, sending a gift card on their anniversary or their kids birthdays will do wonders for their souls.
• Clearing the path. The best Sending Churches are those that have studied the city, love the city and know the city in such a way that they are praying against and specifically addressing any barriers that would side track the plant or the planter.
MAKE IT A RELAY
Most analogies break down somewhere and so it does here with running and Sending Churches. The ultimate expression of a Sending Church is that they would not just send out one planter to plant one church but that there would be multiple planters and multiple churches. Multiplication occurs when a church sends out planters and the ones they send, would then send others. The closest racing analogy is that of a relay. Being a Sending Church is something that you pass off to the ones you sent. Below are few final thoughts to make that happen:
• Keep praying for, raising up, and sending planters. Imagine if every family only produced one child. Even worse, imagine if only a small number of the population reproduced at all. According to Lifeway research, only 4% of churches in North America are actually reproducing. Start today to become a Sending Church.
• Implant in every church plant and every church planter the DNA to reproduce. If every Sending Church would not only become parents but grand parents and so on, the degree of lostness of North America would significantly be impacted. A Sending Church can help a church plant to reproduce by offering counsel, resources, prayers, promotion and encouragement to granddaughter churches.
• Bring others along. I loved seeing my parents and my kids at races that I have run through the years. However, I loved even more when they would bring someone else along for that race. One of the best practices for a Sending Church is to involve other churches in sending out a planter and helping those churches to become a Sending Church as well.
As you practice these principles, you will both discover and fulfill the purpose for which your church was created!
For more information on becoming a Sending Church or attending a Sending Church Lab, visit sendnetwork.com/Sending-Church-Lab.
Published April 28, 2016