I have been running marathons for almost 15 years now. It’s amazing how the sport of distance running has taken off in the last decade. Most major cities and urban centers have a number of races throughout a calendar year ranging from 5K’s to ultra-marathons. I still vividly remember the first race I ran some 40 years ago in a track meet among the Royal Ambassador groups in our local Baptist Association. (Some of you just took a trip down memory lane!) In that race, we lined up and the race announcer gave us his countdown, “Runners ready!…get set!…GO!”
That often repeated mantra is the clear call that the race that runners have been preparing for is about to begin. As simple as those words are, they line out a powerful sequence to equip every runner to run their best race.
I believe the same sequence serves as a simple strategy in equipping any church in becoming a Sending Church. This blog is the first in a series of three to give guidance for sending out disciples and planting new churches. Since the first chapter of Genesis (1:22), the heart of God is expressed in the multiplication of a people that would be His people. The multiplication of God-followers happens when the church unleashes, “sends out”, believers to live their lives in the mission to make disciples. In so doing, we see that new churches were established with these new disciples.
The multiplication of God-followers happens when the church unleashes, “sends out”, believers to live their lives in the mission to make disciples.
Paul writes in I Corinthians 9:24 to run the race in such a way that you finish well. The application of that scripture is focused on individual believers, but could we also make a similar assertion to “corporate” believers? How can a church run in such a way to finish well? One of those ways is through the intentional creation of a new, life-giving church. Therefore we must “get ready, get set and go!”
With that in mind, let’s look at a couple of ways in which churches can get ready to plant.
CREATE A CULTURE FOR PLANTING
Sending out a church planter can be one of the most exhilarating experiences for a church. One method of planting for a church is through adoption. Adopting a planter who is not a member of the sending church is a great first step for many churches. However, the beginning point in becoming a Sending Church is to create a culture of sending (multiplying). Pastors and leaders need to sprinkle church planting thoughts, experiences, and activities among their members in various ways. In so doing it will eventually become natural to have conversations among the members of “who could we send…where do we plant next…what can we do to raise up planters!” A few practices for creating a church planting culture include:
• Pray regularly in your weekend services for church planters.
• Incorporate facts in newsletters, staff meetings, and weekly bulletins about the lostness of North America and the need for new churches.
• Preach messages to theologically ground people in a biblical missiology about multiplication.
• Build into the church calendar an offering emphasis around church planting such as Annie Armstrong Easter Offering and/or create a line item designated specifically for church planting efforts.
START WITH WHO YOU HAVE
Several times a month I will have a pastor or leader say something to me like, “let me know if you see a great guy out there that we can get behind for planting!” While that is admirable and well meaning, I believe that God has already seeded each local church with people that He is preparing to send out. Consider sending:
I believe that God has already seeded each local church with people that He is preparing to send out.
• Staff. There are incredible staff people, serving in various roles throughout our existing churches. Just a little nudge from pastors and leaders could be just what they need to move them toward a new calling of church planting.
• Interns. Establish an intern program utilizing the Intern Development material from NAMB.
• Business professionals. Bi-vocational church planters will continue to rise due to cultural and economic factors.
• College Students. There are plenty of opportunities to send them out to church planting teams.
• Retirees. Many retired persons or couples would consider either leading a church planting effort, or joining an effort, if they were simply asked.
The church planters of tomorrow are sitting in the pews and chairs of our churches today. Start asking those you have right around you and get ready…there just might be a planter waiting to be released.
For more information on becoming a Sending Church, contact us at 800-634-2462 or consider attendingsendnetwork.com/Sending-Church-Lab.
Published April 25, 2016