Corn reproduces corn. Tomatoes reproduce tomatoes. Horses reproduce horses. Why is it then that we ask church planters to start churches rather than having churches reproduce churches?
Paying missionaries to reproduce churches is like surrogate motherhood—paying someone else to birth your babies. The local church is the best “birth parent” for other newborn local churches of their kind. Missionaries have mission duties, and the local church has local area duties. Missions is extremely important, as is the work of visitation and soulwinning, but without church planting, a church cannot expect a like-minded ministry to simply spring up somewhere nearby!
Established pastors of strong churches make the best potential church planters. While the size of a reproducing church does not matter, strength and commitment are vitally important. It is also imperative that the new church have a solid man selected to be the future pastor and shepherd of the flock. In the 25 years of experience assisting with church plantings, I have found this combination to be reliable and advantageous.
Planting a New Church
One of the advantages of having churches plant churches is that the pastor of the established church leads the process. From approving the pastor of the new church to selecting the area for the church, the pastor of the “birthing church” is involved in overseeing the project from start to finish.
The pastor leads the church plant, but the church wholly must help the new church. The pivotal role of the reproducing church comes in to play as the church family saturates the new prospective area with John and Romans Bible portions. This “saturation advertising” greatly increases the chances of having new visitors during the first week of meetings.
The support for the new church doesn’t end with promotion. The members of the reproducing church serve throughout the first week of services. They greet visitors, usher, and provide childcare and special music. A brief fellowship following each service during the first week allows time for the visitors to feel at home and get to know the new pastor and his family.
Fruit that Remains
You get one good chance to start a church in a community; you have to do it right the first time. This means that the men who will be the pastors of these new churches must meet scriptural standards and must have lives that are right with God. They cannot be novices, and must be willing to work under the direct supervision of an established pastor.
God has blessed this model. Of the sixty-one church plants that Baptist Church Planting Ministry has helped start, only two have failed to make it. Together, these churches are annually giving nearly $600,000 to missions. The goal is not just to reproduce churches, but to also help these churches emphasize missions.
Financing these new churches is a matter of faith. While finances can greatly affect the success of church planting, a church that feels God would have them start another church must know that where God guides, God provides. Baptist Church Planting Ministries does not charge for helping a new church get started. They cover their own expenses through love offerings to the ministry. The process for everyone is by faith.
Why Churches Should Reproduce Churches
1. It helps fulfill the Great Commission.
2. It actively involves church members in the Great Commission. Most churches that get involved in church planting find that their people get excited about doing it. They are thrilled at seeing the growth of a new church which they have helped reproduce.
3. It is culturally effective. Anyone who travels extensively in the United States knows the differences in culture from North to South and East to West. Churches can help a great deal in effectively reproducing a new church within their geographical area.
4. It is cost-efficient. One church reproduced in Pennsylvania was planted with a total investment of $25,000 and was completely self-supporting within the first year. When churches reproduce churches, we can reduce the amount of time it takes to bring a church to self-support and also reduce expenses in getting the church planted.
5. It makes the beginning of the new church stronger. A church was reproduced in the metro area of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. Seven churches visited the targeted area, handing out 30,000 John and Romans and advertising the new church and the week of meetings. These churches spent 1,650 man-hours and developed 31 family contacts during the four weeks of visitation and the week of meetings. The church started with 14 families in their first service of the new church. If the new pastor had visited for 15 hours each week, it would have taken him two and one-half years to reach all of those contacts! A crowd draws a crowd. By getting the church off to a good start, they can begin to develop the excitement needed to keep it going.
6. It gives encouragement to the new church. One of the great problems facing a church planter is that his people see no one to encourage them. When churches help to reproduce a new church, the families in the new church have others who can be of great encouragement to them. The new pastor also has people who know where he is taking the new ministry. They can live what he preaches and share with the new believers in the church.
7. It lends credibility to the new pastor. In one instance, a pastor attended an evening service where a new church was being planted. He had pastored a church in the area for 25 years and was a trusted man. He said, “This pastor has preached for me and I have checked him out. Our people love and trust him. We believe in this man and what he is doing.” For all those sitting in the audience who were from the area, this pastor established the credibility of the new pastor.
8. It demonstrates what the new church should be like in the future. Many people today are cautious about attending an independent, fundamental Baptist church. They have heard so many things about fundamentalism that they are unsure whether they want what we have. A week of meetings can help reduce their concerns and show them we are a sensible, caring people who love the Lord and His Word.
What Will Your Church Do?
The conclusion is clear. Churches should not only help financially, but must actively participate in the planting of new local churches. The biblical, practical aspect of “kind reproducing kind” has been true from the book of Genesis to today, and it will never change. The objective of Baptist Church Planting Ministry is to help churches fulfill the Great Commission by reproducing churches. I pray that the Lord would give us pastors who will seriously consider how important they are to the reproducing of new churches.
Corn reproduces corn; tomatoes reproduce tomatoes; horses reproduce horses; and churches reproduce churches.