When we think of the birthing of a baby, we recognize what a precious thing it is for both parents to participate in the birthing process.
I am so thankful that we live in a day when the father of the newborn baby is not excluded from the birthing process through banishment to the “waiting room,” but rather included each step of the way.
From Lamaze classes, to labor coaching, to cutting the umbilical cord, I have had an active role in the birth of every one of my seven children.
If it is reasonable to expect both the mother and the father to be present at the birth of their child, why should not the local New Testament church be able to witness and attend the birth of a brand new church birthed by their own local church?
I am afraid we have too often robbed our churches of the joy of seeing a new church birthed by not providing a means for the church to participate in the process.
During the past ten years, Ambassador Baptist Church has effectively used the “Get-Acquainted Meetings” taught to us by Dr. Earl Jessup to see three new baby churches birthed.
This article is my attempt to share with pastors, as well as church planters, why they should consider a “Get-Acquainted Meeting” as a part of their church-planting strategy. Here are ten needs that Get-Acquainted Meetings help meet:
1. THE NEED FOR RECOMMENDING: CREDIBILITY FOR THE NEW PASTOR
One of the greatest impediments to seeing an effective start to a local church is a lack of credibility for the new pastor in the new community. There was a time when church leaders were some of the most respected men in the community, but those days are long gone.
Prospective church members need to know that the new church and pastor come with the support and confidence of Godly leaders from their area. What better way to lend this much needed credibility than to have local area churches and pastors come to show their whole-hearted support for this new minister and church through the hosting of a “Get-Acquainted Meeting”?
Through the years, solid independent Baptist pastors have united to assist the Ambassador Baptist Church of Fresno, by lending credibility to the men called by God to see new churches planted.
2. THE NEED FOR REFLECTING: SHOWCASING WHAT AN INDEPENDENT FUNDAMENTAL BAPTIST CHURCH IS
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then why not model through a Get-Acquainted Meeting the kind of church we are seeking to start?
With the help and assistance of the birthing church, as well as other solid Baptist churches, we can showcase the spirit and distinctiveness of an independent Baptist church in that community.
Those who attend these Get-Acquainted Meetings will hear God-honoring music sung from the hymn book, a King James Bible read and preached, friendliness expressed before and after the services, as well as the invitation that calls men and women to respond to the message of God’s Word. They will also hear from the reproducing church’s pastor, as well as the new church pastor, a clear vision for God’s work in their community.
3. THE NEED OF REWARDING: THE WORK OF THE REPRODUCING CHURCH FAMILY
Just as an expectant mother spends nine months in preparation for the birth of a baby, so the local New Testament church spends much time, money, effort, and prayer in helping see a new church birthed.
Many church planters are more than willing to take the help from the mother church in funding, supplies, and assistance in door knocking, but they do not allow for a time of rewarding the birthing church family through providing a means for them to be present at the birth.
When any child is born, it just takes mom one glimpse of this new life to make her say that the sacrifice and pain of the past nine months was worth it all.
Let us not rob our mother churches of the thrill of seeing a baby church born. The birth experience would perhaps be duplicated more often if the birthing church family would be rewarded for their hard work by witnessing the birth of this new baby church.
4. THE NEED OF REJOICING: A FAMILY’S GATHERING AND CELEBRATION
Another benefit of a “Get-Acquainted Meeting” is that the church family has an opportunity to gather for the purpose of celebrating the new life that has graced both the immediate and the extended family.
A “Get-Acquainted Meeting” gives the church an opportunity to rejoice with those that rejoice. In the history of our church, the absolute highlight is the birthing of a new baby church. If the mission of the church is the Great Commission and God’s method is church planting, then we have every right to gather to celebrate the fulfillment of God’s plan to reach the world through church planting.
5. THE NEED OF RECRUITING: LOOKING FOR THE INTERESTED
We are in actuality looking for two kinds of prospects.
The first prospects would be those interested in attending the new church. The second type of prospects would be prayer partners to pray for the new church.
If you have invited other local pastors and their congregations to these meetings, you will be able to find some from these churches that will partner with you in prayer for this new church.
It is one thing to put a prayer request in the mid-week prayer bulletin about a new church being started, and quite another to bring some church members to a Get-Acquainted Meeting and have them see the birth of a new church. Since our eyes affect our heart, as our people attend a service, their hearts cannot help but be moved to pray for this new pastor and the great work God has called him to do.
6. THE NEED OF REVIVING: PASTORAL PASSION FOR CHURCH PLANTING
It is sad, but I would estimate that more than 80% of our pastors have never had any first-hand experience in church planting. It is very difficult to personally get excited about something you know very little about.
The greatest need from my perspective is to stir up our American pastors to once again become passionate about planting new churches both here at home and around the world.
A Get-Acquainted Meeting helps a pastor to see first hand what can be accomplished through his local church family for the cause of world evangelism through the planting of New Testament Baptist Churches.
7. THE NEED OF REINFORCING: A CHURCHES REPRODUCE CHURCHES PHILOSOPHY
When we examine the Word of God, we see that the commission to evangelize the world was not just given to a handful of apostles two thousand years ago, but it is a commission for the local New Testament church today. What a dramatic change we would see in our world today if every pastor led his church in reproducing itself by birthing new baby churches.
As God has allowed me the privilege of teaching church planting at West Coast Baptist College, I have used the opportunity to learn about the church planting emphasis of our independent Baptist churches. Through taking a class survey, I have learned that only about 10% of our young men wanting to plant churches come from a home church where they have seen a new church birthed. That means that 90% of our good churches are not providing a visual model of the New Testament mandate to start churches. We will never reach our generation as long as we believe the calling for church planting was given to a few rather than to every church.
A Get-Acquainted Meeting allows local pastors and prospective church planters the opportunity to see a model that they can follow by seeing a church reproduce another church.
8. THE NEED FOR REGENERATING: SOME MAY BE SAVED DURING THE MEETINGS
Although these meetings are in no way to be mistaken for a typical revival meeting, we do at times see some come to know the Lord as the Gospel message is proclaimed. If the new pastor is looking at these meetings as a means of reaching many souls for Christ, he will be disappointed. The purpose of these meetings is much bigger than just finding the lost or finding some prospective church members. The work of evangelism primarily takes place prior to these meetings as the church families go door to door with the Gospel seeking to win the lost for Christ.
9. THE NEED FOR RESTORING: HELPING HURTING PEOPLE
In every community, you will find hurting people that for a multitude of reasons are not presently attending a good Independent Baptist Church. It may be moral or spiritual failures of the past, marital failures, or personality conflicts that have come between a believer and his pastor or church. A fresh start is sometimes what is needed for an individual, or even a family, so that they can once again be under the preaching of the Word of God.
All have sinned and all of us have failed, but we all need the care, love and nurturing of a New Testament Baptist church family. A Get-Acquainted Meeting could be the tool God uses to bring this one or this family back to fellowship with God’s people in His church.
10. THE NEED FOR REPELLING: DISCOURAGING SOME POTENTIAL MEMBERS
Every church planter has learned the hard way that they have to be careful with who they should encourage to attend their new church. How many times have we heard of a family replanting themselves in a new church after repeatedly being a “thorn in the side” of every pastor and ministry they have ever blessed with their presence?
There will come a time, as the new church matures, that some of these individuals and families can be helped. But it is not wise to start a church with these people as the core people.
It is during a Get-Acquainted Meeting that seasoned and discerning pastors can give their life experience and advice as disgruntled believers will attend to check out the new pastor and church. I have had to discourage some people from attending a new church because of the potential disruption this type of individual or family would be to an infant congregation.
It is far better to proclaim where you stand at the very start of the new church concerning the Bible, conservative music, soul-winning, and associations than have to deal with some of these issues and people at a later date when real harm would be done to the young church.
In closing, the Get-Acquainted Meetings have been and will continue to be a tremendous tool that God can use in each of our home areas to help stir up God’s people for the great work of church planting both here, at home, and around the world.
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PASTOR MARK IRMLER
Pastor of Crown Point Baptist Church in Simi Valley, CA