I remember it like it was yesterday. After one of “those” church business meetings, someone close to me asked, “Why don’t you just plant a church?” I have to admit, the idea sounded good at the time, but after much thought and prayer, I couldn’t escape God’s call on my life to lead an established church to fulfill the Great Commission by leveraging its resources toward missions and church planting.
You see, one of my driving ministry passions is to lead the established church I pastor to invest in church planting and to encourage other established church pastors to do the same. Here’s the reality: Church planting efforts in North America will take a huge leap forward if more established church pastors lead their churches to support the work.
The question is, how can you shape your lead pastor’s heart toward church planting involvement and engagement?
Let’s consider three ways:
1. Be clear in your vision.
Lead pastors live in a world where vision is primary. In fact, in my experiences with pastor search teams over the years, I’ve been asked about vision before anything else—including doctrine! So your lead pastor most likely understands the importance and necessity of a clear vision.
You need to bring clarity to your vision as a church planter. You must bring clarity to a number of important issues: where you’re going to plant, the demographic you will target, what your leadership team will look like, how your funding will take shape, how your core team will form, a time frame for reaching critical mass, what partnership means, what you plan to accomplish over the next two or three years, etc. By the time you meet with a lead pastor to ask for support, you should have a clear and compelling vision for your ministry.
2. Be specific in your request.
When you have the opportunity to meet with your lead pastor about supporting a new work, provide specific ways he can partner with you moving forward. Every church planter with whom I’ve met is planting in a hard-to-reach location. Every planter needs some combination of prayer, dollars, resources, people, teams, and personal encouragement/engagement. You will not be unique in this regard!
What will set you apart is the ability to provide specific on-ramps of partnership and support. When I meet with a church planter, I want to know the following: How much money do you need to get started or to fund your vision? What resources do you need that I can provide (printing, music equipment, chairs, etc)? What kind of teams can you receive and when do you need them (community outreach, students, construction, etc)? How can I best support and encourage you moving forward?
The more specific you can be, the better! Specificity leads to greater opportunity, because your lead pastor will have something tangible to consider and provide.
3. Be positive about your partnership.
Be sure to talk about the blessings and benefits of church planting partnerships. For example, in the SEND city where most of our church plants are located, the majority of salvation decisions and baptisms are coming from recent church plants! Although these baptisms aren’t included in the numbers our church reports annually, we still get the win of knowing that our support and partnership helped make it happen! This is something I celebrate with my church family on a regular basis, and it’s breathed new life into our fellowship.
I’ve encouraged members to visit our church plants, send teams, send cards and notes of encouragement, and to pray for our planters and their families. In every case, our members have been blessed by the opportunity to be a blessing and as a result have picked up Great Commission DNA. This has been and continues to be a foundational part of our missions strategy that keeps our church focused on what’s happening outside our church walls. This is something every pastor desires, because an inward-focused church is the cause of much grief and anxiety.
Paint a picture of gospel partnership that is positive, hopeful and impactful. Help your lead pastor see the benefits of Great Commission teamwork that benefits everyone involved. Church planting is an incredible way to focus an established church on something positive that is happening outside its four walls, which is a win that every pastor needs—especially the day after one of “those” business meetings!
Corey Abney is lead pastor of Florence Baptist Church in Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati. This article originally appeared on NAMB.net.