One of the biggest obstacles to planting effective new churches is a lack of qualified, prepared planters.
In recent times, before COVID-19, I sat in a room with evangelical church planting leaders from across the nation. In presentation after presentation these national leaders repeatedly stated that they were struggling to find planters.
A moment of clarity arose when Jeff Christopherson, executive director of Church Planting Canada and co-founder of the Send Institute, stated, “The problem is that we’ve all been fishing in the same pond for planters, and nobody’s restocking the pond.”
No amount of vision or strategy can make up for the lack of qualified, prepared planters that North Carolina needs. And as Christopherson said, “we’ll never get there if we keep fishing in fishless ponds.”
Reproducing churches needed
Churches plant churches. Acts 13 shows us a picture of the first sending church, Antioch. The leadership was fasting and praying and the Holy Spirit instructed them to commission and send Barnabas and Saul to take the gospel to new places, places that needed the witness of God’s new church. So they did. We need North Carolina Baptist churches today to go and do likewise.
To plant the number of churches needed to impact lostness, it is imperative that the local church accept its God-ordained calling as the incubator and sender of these new expressions of the local church to new areas and pockets of lostness.
“The problem is that we’ve all been fishing in the same pond for planters, and nobody’s restocking the pond.” — Jeff Christopherson
A movement begins in your church
The raising up and sending out of missionaries and church planters is the responsibility of the local church. If we are going to see a reproducing church movement, the local church must be in the lead. In this movement, the local church becomes the reproducing body as the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC) collaborates, assesses, trains, coaches and supports the reproducing work of the local church.
One of the best ways to begin this work is by joining other like-minded churches to partner to eradicate lostness in your region. If we are ever going to see an exponential movement of church planting in North Carolina, it will be because local churches partner together and create movements as they make disciples and, ultimately, raise up church planters and church planting teams to start churches.
It is so important that sending church leaders lean in together to tackle lostness through church planting. Here are three ways churches can work together in this vital effort.
Reproducing churches normally don’t reproduce by accident. The passion a church expresses toward the mission of sending is contagious. Reproducing churches focus their actions toward the type of disciple-making that will lead to sending, planting and reproducing. As Walter Henrichsen says, “Disciples are made, not born.”
Reproducing churches understand that they must provide pathways by which their people can grow as followers of Jesus. Being a reproducing church isn’t just partnering with a church plant or planters Reproducing churches are raising up disciple-makers, resulting in raising up and sending people from their church.
One of the encouraging pathways is church planting apprenticeships, where planters and planting teams are developed to be sent. BSCNC’s Church Planting NC can help your church develop a church planting apprenticeship.
A reproducing church is looking to give themselves away for the sake of the gospel. They demonstrate the biblical sending narrative by encouraging their people to live on mission, and ultimately, to go on mission through leaving to plant new churches. The ultimate goal of a reproducing church is to see planters called while serving in that church, and celebrate another opportunity to impact lostness through planting and sending.
One of the biggest obstacles to planting effective new churches in North Carolina is the lack of qualified, prepared planters and teams. A reproducing church movement will happen when local churches decide that they aren’t okay with the lostness that prevails across their regions, prompting them to partner together and ask the Lord, “Who would you have us to send?”