That's a question Faith Lutheran Church; Georgetown has been asking itself for the past several years. Faith Lutheran Church is where my wife Becky and I have worshiped, served and been nurtured in our faith life for more than 18 years. God has blessed Faith with healthy growth, caring Pastors and DCE's and leaders who are willing to risk for the sake of Kingdom growth.
A major focus of my work for the Texas District is in serving as a catalyst, resource and mentor to churches planting churches and to church planters. When I was asked to chair a Church Planting Parenting Team at Faith two years ago, I was excited and just a little bit scared as I was to find out first hand whether all the things I had worked on with other churches in would be a blessing in my own church.
Two and a half years later, Faith has been led by God to move forward with launching a church plant. Our staff, elders, church council and voters each voted unanimously that we should do this. Members are looking at this as an investment in the Kingdom rather than as a loss of resources. That's exciting to me! I again have been blessed by being asked to chair the Call Committee for our Church Planter and we continue to move forward as Jesus leads. We are excited to see who God brings as Planter and as the people to be discipled.
We learned some things along the way. Here are a few of our key learnings leading up to our decision to plant a new church:
- Disciples in the local church must passionately believe that the church exists for those not yet part of God's Kingdom or they will not move toward planting a church
- Churches planting churches don't lose people; they invest them in the work of gathering a harvest.
- Parenting a church has little to do with size of a churches attendance but rather on the size of its heart.
- A byproduct of a healthy church is the willingness to invest in reproduction.
- God calls some to go and plant a new church. He calls others to stay and keep the parent church strong and healthy.
- Church planting churches give up the "myth of acquisition." (Examples: "We will start a new congregation after our building project is paid for;" "Once we have added a couple of new staff members we will be in a position to try this;" "If we can increase our budget to X dollars, then we'll be ready to plant a church.") Instead, they have learned it is about God's time to plant. They have learned that it is much like having children; "If you wait to have children until you can afford it, you never will."
- Churches planting churches have already cultivated a culture of missional generosity.
- Churches planting churches care more about the people in the new field of work than cloning a replica of their current church in a new location.
Not all of these statements were true about our church when our team began its work, but we have seen how the Spirit has faithfully been working in our leaders and disciples so that right now we are eager for a planter to arrive and begin this work with tons of support and prayers. We can't wait to see what Jesus will do with us.
What could be done if your church wanted to begin a discernment process of your own?
- Charter a Church Parenting Team who would work with your Texas District Mission and Ministry Facilitator to research, study and make a Spirit led recommendation to your leaders and congregation.
- Communicate a Biblical understanding of parenting a church to your congregation.
- Create awareness of the process of change needed.
- Carefully wait for the Kairos time for a Spirit
led decision by your congregation.Is the Spirit prompting you and your congregation to explore church planting? Let me know how I can help. I am ready to meet with you and other leaders at any time. It is the highest priority!