Church planting is an ancient idea that needs to be rediscovered by the modern church. Imagine if the first church in Jerusalem had decided one church was enough for the entire world. What if the early church had refused to obey the Holy Spirit and had held onto to its best leaders instead of sending them out to build local gatherings throughout Asia, India and Europe?
Local churches must rediscover the mission and mandate of church planting. This is a critical hour in world history and we must be aggressive in taking the message of Jesus to every corner of the earth. What happens to a local church that embraces church planting as a core ministry?
1. Church planting builds the Kingdom not an empire
Most leaders make it difficult for young leaders to leave their team to plant churches of their own. If the church is like a family, then the family should celebrate leaders who are ready to leave the church family to start a family of their own. For sure, there is a process that leaders and potential church planters should follow for the transition to be blessed. Young leaders should not leave prematurely, without the covering of their local church and the local church should allow young leaders to dream openly about church planting without being made to feel disloyal for having the thought. Leaders should have the faith that God will send them new leaders if they will not hold on tightly to the ones they have. This is when the church becomes a river and stops being a reservoir. To get serious about church planting, we must be serious about building His Kingdom and repent for only building our personal empire.
2. Leaders get to lead
Church planting is a great adventure and a huge challenge. It requires an enormous amount of prayer, wisdom and coaching. Even then, success is not guaranteed. But that is the point. It is mysterious, risky and dangerous which is exactly what leaders crave. On a recent visit to a New Life church plant in Denver, I watched a group of young leaders leading with great passion and realized that planting a church was the next step in their development as Christ followers. Sure, they could have learned some of the same lessons if they had stayed at New Life, but it would not have been nearly as difficult and not nearly as exciting for them. They are walking the tight wire without a net. They are getting to lead their own church and I am proud they were willing to take the risk.
3. New ideas surface
Sometimes a church plant is the best soil for new ideas to emerge. Church planters get to start from scratch and examine every tradition and idea with a new set of lenses. Church planters get to take the best ideas from their sending church, but also get to experiment with new paradigms. The ancient message of the Gospel can then be communicated with the fresh ideas of today and we are all the better for it. Some of the best ideas for church in the past 20 years have emerged from young pioneer church planters who had the courage to ask, “Is this really the best way to do church?” We all benefit in the end.
I am committed to planting as many churches as God allows New Life to plant. I want to send out our best leaders to plant churches around the world. It will be sad to see such great leaders leave our church, but all weddings have a bit of sadness. But weddings also mean the start of new families and future grandchildren. I believe that is the point of the Great Commission – to make disciples.
I have a challenge for New Lifers – let’s be a church that builds His Kingdom, sends leaders to lead so the best new ideas can surface. Let’s celebrate the weddings that are coming and let’s give all we have to plant churches around the world.