Churches of any size can become a sending church. Sending churches partner with new church plants through prayer, provision and support to multiply themselves and make disciples.
What are the benefits of being a sending church? Here are seven motivations for becoming a sending church to advance the kingdom and impact lostness through disciple-making.
Sending churches impact new people with the gospel.
Pastor and author Andy Stanley says, “Your church is perfectly designed to reach the people you are already reaching.” In other words, every church has a sweet spot, reflected by the people it is most effective at impacting with the gospel. For example, cowboy churches are best at reaching cowboys. If you examine the people in your church, you’ll likely discover that there are similar characteristics among the group. Sending churches multiply in order to reach new people with the gospel whom your present church is not reaching.
When a church multiplies, there is a positive impact upon the sending church.
According to the book Viral Churches, sending churches see growth in attendance and giving. Over a five-year period, worship attendance increases by 22 percent on average. Tithes and offerings increase by 48 percent, and missions giving increases by 77 percent. God designed His church to be outward-focused and on mission. This is a spiritual maturity issue, and the impact is substantial.
Sending churches help stem the tide of churches that are closing.
It’s estimated that approximately 70 churches close their doors every week. Add this truth to population growth, and the need for new churches is amplified. In North Carolina, 82 percent of existing Baptist churches are over 40 years of age, which some say is the average life cycle of a church unless it can redream the dream. Sending churches are needed to facilitate replacement of all those that are closing and to get more “fishing lines in the water” to make more disciples.
Sending churches develop a missional mindset and grow an army of missionaries.
Mature churches multiply, as it is the nature of life. Many churches are now sending temporary missionaries to assist the new church plant. A sending church may have a commissioning service and send volunteers for a three-month, six-month or 12-month covenant. Sometimes these are called S.W.A.T. teams (Servants Willing and Temporary). Other churches send missionaries to assist the new church permanently, which may involve moving their families to a new city in need of the gospel.
Every Christian is a “sent” Christian.
Sending churches develop disciples who recognize that church is not about me, but rather it is about Him and them. It is about the people whose lives they intersect in the neighborhood, work, school or the grocery store. Being on mission becomes a way of life for the mature disciple.
Scorecards change in a sending church.
No longer is the focus on counting seating capacity, but rather on calculating their sending capacity. Most churches today focus on how many people they can gather. The sending church, however, reveals commitment to the Great Commission when it counts how many they scatter each week. This becomes a seven-day-a-week, 24-hour-a-day commitment to be on mission for Christ. How might you evaluate your scorecard relative to your congregation being “on mission?”
Acts 1:8 becomes a vibrant motivation in the sending church.
A church on mission will regularly evaluate how it is doing “in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” People tend to do that which gets celebrated. Acts 1:8 provides the perfect lens through which one can evaluate how the church is doing relative to kingdom impact outside the walls of the local church. Through spiritual growth and maturity, “come and see” morphs into “go and tell.” It’s across the street and around the globe.
What is your next step to becoming a sending church?
Editor’s Note: Mark Gray serves as team leader for the Church Planting Team of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. Remember that your gifts to the North Carolina Missions Offering support the work of church planting.
Get the latest news and event information by signing up for the N.C. Baptist newsletter.