Authors: Jeremy Rowland & Rick Rust
Understanding that churches reproduce churches, it is the responsibility of every church to oversee the birthing of baby churches. Reproducing churches isn’t a passive decision but a purposeful one. The Biblical mandate for the local church is to “go.” Reaching Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost is not conditional but imperative. Below are two practical, helpful, and Biblical phases churches should go through to reproduce.
PHASE 1 - THE CHURCH PREPARING
1. Help the church cultivate a desire to reproduce
Since churches reproduce a new church, more than just the pastor needs to have the burden and vision to reproduce. Cultivating a unified desire from the members of the church is crucial and can be done through a study on Biblical church planting or by having a special conference or seminar. BCPM could come in and teach the principles of why a church should birth a church. You can also bring in church planters to share what God is doing in their ministry. The church plant will die prematurely without the church having the desire and commitment to reproduce.
2. Make it a part of your budget
Start setting aside funds. You can do this through your mission’s budget, general budget, or special monthly or quarterly offerings. You will know if the church is “on board” if they give to reproducing themselves. These funds can be helpful to the start-up costs. Some have also designated funds monthly to help with the church planter’s support.
3. Have special prayer meetings throughout the year
Encourage the church collectively to pray over their Judea. Also, encourage your people to pray for areas as they travel around their community.
4. Get involved with a church plant close to your church
When a sister church plants a church, get involved. You can help by evangelizing the new area, supplying needs, and getting involved with the opening services.
PHASE 2 - THE CHURCH DELIVERING
1. Select the Targeted Area
Pray earnestly about needy areas. A particular area might make sense, but there needs to be a clear direction from the Lord and a moving of His Spirit. A needy area doesn’t constitute a call to that area. The Apostle Paul was lead and also held back by the Spirit in Acts 16:6-7. Seek the Lord, and He will make the location very obvious.
2. Evangelize the New Area
Possibly go soul-winning twice a month for a few months. Take groups from the church and pray that the Lord will give fruit. People will come to know Christ as Savior, and there will be more excitement in the church for the new area.
3. Start an Extension Service
Begin to hold a service to minister to the new community. Although a Bible study can be conducted during the week, a Sunday afternoon service is preferred as this is the best time to reach the majority of people. Have church members from the reproducing church sign up and commit to travel over and help conduct the services each week. It is important for the guests from the new area to know that this is an extension ministry with a goal of establishing a local church.
4. Pray for a Church Planter
Begin to pray for the right man to pastor the church. This might be someone from within or someone who the Lord brings from without. Remember that churches reproduce after their “kind.” Even if the man has a college education and experience with other ministries, he needs to be mentored by the reproducing pastor, and this could take several years. The reproducing pastor has to be the one who approves the new pastor and his family. A novice cannot be placed into the ministry. The reproducing church also needs to notice that the man is ready and that there is no question that the Lord has His hand on him and his family.
5. The Long-term Finances
The church planter should be fully supported when starting the church as he needs to give his full time to reaching and pastoring people. The lack of finances is the number one reason why church plants die prematurely. It is very difficult to work, pastor, and be a good husband and father all at the same time. Although most support will come from other churches, pray about what the reproducing church can do long-term. The support can be reduced by 20% each year for a five-year term which will keep the church planter dedicated and dependent on the Lord. This term can be extended or reduced based on the financial state of the church.
6. The Launch Strategy
Once the above steps have been taken, it is time to prepare for the official start of the church. Because the church will only get one birth, much time and planning need to be given to a healthy beginning. Preparing a timeline with a checklist, organizing a cooperative effort with other churches, and establishing the best advertising methods are all important factors during this preparation stage. BCPM can help with this entire process.
7. Post-start Nurturing
Continue to find ways to nurture and be a blessing to the baby church. Send members over on Sundays to help with ushering, music, and nursery. Continue to help the new church with the evangelism and outreach. Provide resources such as curriculum and printing needs. The reproducing pastor can speak to the men of the new church about being faithful, supporting the new work, and taking care of the pastor. The nurturing relationship can go on for several years and is a vital source of strength for the new church.
Birthing a baby church in a needy area is very exciting, rewarding, and exhausting. It is an opportunity to watch the Lord carry out His commission in reaching one more part of His creation. Churches should spend much time in prayer seeking the Lord and asking Him to establish local churches that will one day reproduce more churches.