8 Vital Insights for ‘Pregnant’ Church Planting

“God desires to see every person come to know him. He’s waiting for a church planter to step out and start a movement.”

Our current resident planter came from a church-planting church and has church planting in his blood. Not too long ago, he told me that he wanted to plant a church so bad “he thought he might die if he didn’t do it.” That’s the kind of planter you want to hire.

One other thing we look for in the right hire is vision alignment. Does this person have our vision to be a church-planting church? I’m not looking for a planter who wants to play it safe or work toward stability—even if I think that person could grow a church. I want a risk taker, and someone who will be focused on planting more churches so we can reach more people with the gospel. Over time, this plan will pay better dividends.

5. Work with networks.

One of the most exciting things happening in the church is the way numerous networks of churches are planting churches. The Baltimore/Washington, D.C. Church Planting Network helped start Revolution. Networks help launch healthy churches in so many ways. They provide strong financial basis for a plant. They also frequently help connect planters to potential members who live in the area and typically help provide plants with a team to help oversee the new church. They also can help you select the right church planter in residence.

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If you’re going to plant pregnant, you definitely want someone with you. We had the privilege of working with Stadia and Orchard Group. They helped us navigate diverse pitfalls along the way.

6. Remember that generosity begets generosity.

Granted, it’s a fearful thing to send out a church planter when you’ve just planted your church. It seems so much more logical to simply build up a home base until it’s stable enough to send out a planter, but you’re never more equipped to send out a planter than when you’re brand new. People in your church aren’t yet set in their ways, and many of them just came to Christ because of a church plant. They might not ever be as motivated as they are now to help create that opportunity for someone else.

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Confront this fear by talking with your planter about the people you’re okay with them taking and the people you would prefer they not ask. However, stay open-handed. If someone approaches your planter about going with them, it’s best to let people choose to follow God’s leading. The best position you can put yourself in is a position of dependence (trust). When you send out that planter, it may just be that God is calling you to depend on and trust him yet again.

7. Expect to be targeted.

Satan hates it when we set out to introduce more people to Jesus. I can tell you story after story of my church-planting friends facing trial after trial in the pre-launch phase. If you set out to plant a church—and to plant pregnant—don’t expect to fly under the radar. I don’t say that to cause you more fear. But if you expect an attack, you’ll see it for what it is when it comes. Trust God. Spend time praying and asking his Spirit to guide and lead you. Our battle isn’t against flesh and blood, but Jesus has overcome all, and we can trust him to lead us through.

8. Remember that God is an idealist.

I’m fairly certain that God is an idealist. When humanity walked away from him, rather than just saying, “People are going to do what they’re going to do,” God decided to send his Son to set things back the way they were supposed to be. He didn’t waver on his character and allow sin to go unpunished; he took the punishment for us.

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It’s easy to write off the idea of planting pregnant as an “idealist” way of doing things. But if you’re interested in being part of a kingdom movement, you need some idealism in you. Trust that God is an idealist and wants to reach people more than you do.

If we want to start a movement—if we want to take the gospel to those Jesus loves and doesn’t want to see perish—the best place to start is at the beginning. God desires to see every person come to know him. He’s waiting for a planter—someone he can pour his resources into—to step out and start a movement.

Josh Burnett is the author of the free Exponential eBook Plant Pregnant: Leaving a Legacy of Disciples. He leads Revolution Church in Annapolis, Maryland, and will be one of 10 main speakers at Exponential’s Washington, D.C., regional event in September. For more information, visit Exponential.org/events.