Here are some talking points about church planting for family devotions this week:
What is a church plant? It is starting a new local church from scratch, and in our case, by birthing it out of our local church. A helpful metaphor is a pregnant mother. NEHBC is a mother church that is pregnant and will give birth to a baby church in a few months. A pastor, a group of our members, and money will leave our church and go to a new location and form an entirely new church. This is very helpful to the Kingdom of God because we are giving a church to a growing area of people who don’t have enough churches to reach them, or don’t have any churches at all. And the local church is Christ’s primary strategy for “making disciples” in this world.
What is a church planter? The pastor of a church plant is called a church planter. NEHBC will find the church planter. He and his family will move to Atascocita to join the NEHBC team for about one year. That one year is called the “residency phase”. During the residency phase, he will be trained as a church planter, learn the NEHBC way of doing church, identify the NEHBC members who will form the new church, and get everyone organized.
There are four main phases involved in planting a church: 1) Identify the church planter. We are currently in this phase. 2) Residency phase. This is the preparation phase. 3) Launch phase. This is the first few Sundays the new church actually begins meeting. Many Christians confuse “planting a church” with the launch phase of planting a church. 4) Mission phase. This is the first two or three years of the new church during which it becomes self sustaining in terms of money and leadership.
Where will the new church meet? It will most likely meet in a school gym or an empty store front in a retail center. The pastor and members of the new church will decide. We will purchase folding chairs, a portable sound system, portable preschool and children’s ministry equipment, and rent a storage facility. Each week, the members of the church plant will rent a U-Haul truck and load it up with all the equipment, take it to the school, set up for worship, then break it all down, put it back in the truck and take it back to the storage facility. This happens week after week, month after month, until the new church rents a permanent facility or buys land and builds a building. Some church plants set up and break down in temporary facilities for over five years!
Who will set up all the chairs and sound equipment, set up the preschool and children’s ministry, sing and play instruments in worship, start the student ministry, set up adult small groups, etc? The members of the church plant. In a church plant, every single member serves every single week. It is an extreme luxury at NEHBC that there are “rotations” involved in serving. During launch phase, a church plant stays in “all hands on deck” mode; it takes every single member to pull off every single week. Some volunteers will have to serve 10-15 hours/week for over a year at a time. When NEHBC was in launch phase, every member served every week and we even had fifteen adults commit to 10-15 hours of volunteer service every week for a year. When the Holy Spirit calls people to start a new church, He puts an extraordinary commitment in their hearts. Wait and see what happens when the core group forms; you will be amazed at the extraordinary commitment of the core group.
How will all the members of NEHBC be involved in the church plant? There are three major ways: 1. Prayer. The most important need in a church plant is the presence and power of the Holy Spirit; prayer is the means of seeking Him. 2. Sacrifice. Some of us will go to the new plant and will give up relationships at NEHBC and the luxurious ministries we enjoy. Those of us that don’t go will give up relationships with those that do go and the loss of such a large group of key members will mean lots of change at home at NEHBC. A church plant is a major Kingdom sacrifice for everyone involved. 3. Evangelism. During the “residency phase” and “launch phase” of the new church, we will schedule events in which NEHBCers will descend en mass upon the location of the new plant and to evangelize the lost and publicize the new church. This will generate a large attendance on launch Sunday and in the early weeks; there could be as many as 300 people on the first Sunday!