Church planting is as old as the church. The early Christians planted numerous churches according to the strategic plan given by Jesus in the Great Commission. They planted in Jerusalem first, then in Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the world, according to the strategic direction of Jesus in Acts 1:8.
In 2019, we rejoiced over Lifeway’s report of 3,000 church plants, but mourned over the closure of 4500. During our weekly prayer meeting, I frequently lead Mt. Zion in praying for God to give Pastors and Church Leaders fresh vision and new opportunities to stop the heartbreak and hopelessness among the saints, and the loss of millions in kingdom assets through revitalization.
As we partner to prepare and verify the readiness of Church Planters, sending churches raise up or support a pastor with God’s call on his life. Then, the sending church, the Church Planter, and NAMB work to plant a sustainable church. This is part of the refreshing evangelism and discipleship ministry we today call Church Planting.
With all of this in mind, here are four ways where we can see church planting as a reflection of the ongoing work of the glorious body of Christ.
- Church planting powerfully displays the core values deeply embedded in the sending church.
Sending Pastors have biblical core values and lead the church to live out what is in our core. Core values are biblical statements that serve as the wind beneath our wings of ministry efforts. These core values dictate how, what, why, when, where, and with whom we do ministry.
For example, church planting is helping us expand our reach and challenging us to continually develop next-generation leaders to fill the voids from church planting, prepare for the next church plant, and the next church revitalization.
- Church planting powerfully displays discipleship multiplication in the church (Matt. 28:18-20).
The root of freedom in ministry is realizing the church belongs to Jesus. The Pastor did not die for worldwide sin. Hence, pastors must possess a “For the Lord” mentality. Pastors and church leaders, you will prevent hours of unnecessary mess management by clearly stating: “This is not my church, and it is not your church. This is the Lord’s church.” Sending Pastors lead the church in making loyal followers of Jesus, and willingly send loyal followers of Jesus out to lead other churches to make loyal followers of Jesus (II Tim. 2:2).
In working with Pastor Gregory Perkins and the National African American Fellowship to send more African American Pastors to plant churches, I noticed excitement and increased growth at Mt. Zion in Ontario. Yes, we send members and finances with the new Church Planter, but God keeps growing Mt. Zion. Mt. Zion is actively supporting three church leadership teams in their revitalization efforts (praise Jesus, they did not close their doors!). In fact, we assigned one of our NAMB approved Church Planters to a church in Pomona, CA to revitalize. He is using the same skillsets as a church planter who assumed a small group of existing members to love and nurture such that they help the church grow, and the only real difference is he has a paid-off facility and land.
- Church planting powerfully displays the love among the brethren
Sending Pastors lead the church to love the Church Planters and congregants we send out in a variety of ways.
- We invite the pastors back to preach at the sending church and we visit the planted church.
- We meet with the sending pastors regularly and treat them as our sons in the ministry.
- We also do fun events with them and their wives, just to show our love.
- We protect and maintain our emotional connection to our Church Planters.
- We don’t get caught up in the diabolical comparison game but encourage, appreciate, and celebrate growth and sustainable approaches to ministry.
- Church planting powerfully displays God’s handiwork when we pursue the goal of kingdom expansion.
Sending Pastors are not territorial but jump on opportunities to share for kingdom expansion.
But Pastor Kennedy, we are not big enough, and we don’t have the resources to plant a church. The size of a church does not dictate the resources or vision in a local church. When a Pastor and leaders hear from God regarding a creative Great Commission effort such as church planting, and put the prayer warriors on it, they are guaranteed a God-sized outcome (1 John 5:14-15).
Learn how to pray, “Lord not my will, but Your will be done.” At Mt. Zion, our vision has always been to plant in the High Desert. Well, we have a church plant in South Ontario, a bilingual church plant on our campus that meets at 2PM on Sundays, and we just planted in North Fontana. These locations are where God guided us to plant first.
Guess what? I have a minister friend who started a prayer meeting in the High Desert. I asked him if he was interested in planting a church and he said yes. I said, “do you want some help?” Obviously, he said yes again. So, I connected him with our NAMB church planting network and called his pastor, who is my long-time friend, and told him we are doing a joint church plant. Watch God! Here comes the High Desert church plant.
Then one of my students at Gateway kept telling me he was waiting on God to give direction for where and when to plant a church. I prayed with him and connected him with the NAMB church planting network and today he is a NAMB approved Church Planter. His home church is his sending church, and Mt. Zion is supporting him. Praise Jesus! Now we are connected to a church plant in Moreno Valley.
At some point, the church you attend was planted by people commonly called the founding members. Look for the cornerstone of the building and praise God for people who pursued the vision to plant a church. As you use various parts of the facility, and even plan to renovate, don’t forget to praise God for how you are enjoying the sacrifices and labors of love of others.
In the Inland Empire, we have over 4.7 million people. If everyone showed up for church on Sunday, we would not have enough churches. Hence, let us continue to pray to the Lord of the harvest that He will send out workers into His harvest (Matt. 9:38).