The role of parents is important to kids and to church planters.
My childhood was anything but normal and healthy is not a word I use to describe it. My parents split up (the term used back then) when I was five years old. Even though I was so young, I vividly remember three things from the day my parents split up. 1. My mom throwing breakable items across the room, 2. My dad putting my brother and I into his Ford Galaxie and saying as we were pulling out of the driveway “You are coming to live with me.” 3. As we were driving away from the home I knew, standing up on the back seat of the car and leaning over the front bench seat (back when seat belts were not required).
My church planting experience thus far has faced similar parental challenges. To be a healthy church plant you need healthy adoptive parents that come in the form of an existing church that provides the nurture needed for the new church to start well . So far our plant has not found a parent church. Blame it on the economy, or that I don’t fit the normal criteria for a church planter (and never will as our mission is to reach the non-normal people that choose not to attend any church). Whatever the reason we have yet to find a parent for our church plant, but as with any child waiting for adoption we hope one day soon we will.
Parents are important to a church plant because they help provide the right nutrients for growth including one or more of the following:
- Coaching – The #1 thing a new church planter needs is knowledge. A church planter needs to know what others know who have traveled that way before. They need their parent church to share their worn and tattered map with them which will help navigate the new church to its desired mission destination.
- People – One of the things that has been a surprise to me as an FTP (first time planter) is how many churches are not willing to share their people with a new church plant. In reality church planters are signing up to become new parents, and new parents need kids that can help get the new family started. Believe it or not, if a church leader called me and said “We heard you’re starting and new church and would like to let our people know so they can pray about being a part” I would probably fall face forward into the mud. Listen, I get all of the reasons why a church might not become a parent to a church plant, but maybe it’s time we quit being so protective of “our” people and take a risk for the sake of the gospel and the lost. The REALity is that I’ve never heard of a church that sowed people into a new church plant that did not reap a harvest of people and money that far exceeded their investment. The Spirit of God is well able to replace the people a church sows into a new church plant, and we all know that God never gives us less than we give, always better.
- Facilitiess – Man, it is tough to find an affordable place where a new church launch team can start meeting and grow to 30-50. The ideal place for a new baby church to start is within an existing church that is serving as their parent. But if the parent church is not willing to sow people into that new church that relationship will become an awkward impossible situation for the planter. As a church planter you have to find people who are willing to help and cannot afford to be walking on your tip-toes wondering if someone in the parent church will be offended if you share your vision with someone in their church. It is better not to have a parent church than one that is not fully supportive.
- Money – For a planter, a little money can go a long ways. But money to a planter is more than money. It’s a personal telegram that says we care. It’s amazing how even a small amount of money can bring the courage a planter needs to keep going.
Church plants, like kids, need parents. Being a church planter is not only one of the greatest jobs on the planet, but it is also one of the most important. The local church is truly the hope of the world because it is the catalyst that pushes the hope of the Gospel into new places. Stat’s prove that new churches reach new people and I believe just as with human parents, God’s intended church planting model is for older existing churches to become parents that help new church plants get a healthy start.
QUESTION: What experiences do you have with church planting? What have you seen work?