Author: DR. EARL JESSUP
Since we believe that churches reproduce churches and that the responsibility of reproducing a new church rests on local churches and not the church planter or mission agencies, we need to define the role of the pastor of the reproducing church. The reason for this is because God has placed the pastor as the under shepherd of the church and is accountable to God for the direction of the local church.
The local church, as a living organism, is to reproduce just like every other living organism. This reproduction process needs to be controlled by the pastor of the church. When Baptist Church Planting Ministry gets involved in a project, the ultimate control of the project belongs to the pastor of the church that is reproducing the new church. In order for pastors to fulfill the role of being a reproducing pastor, they need to understand what responsibilities are involved.
1. HE IS TO APPROVE THE NEW PASTOR OF THE REPRODUCED CHURCH.
First of all, the pastor of the reproducing church is responsible for approving the pastor of the new church. Since the reproduced church is going to be similar to the reproducing church, the pastor needs to make sure the new pastor is compatible with the philosophy of the reproducing church. He needs to spend a great deal of time with the new pastor to check out his doctrine, his philosophy of ministry, and his attitude as a follower.
The best way for this to be done is an internship program where the new pastor comes into the existing church and spends at least six months to a year working with the reproducing church. This gives not only the pastor but also the congregation the opportunity to get to know this new pastor, his family, and his philosophy of ministry. They will be much more willing to help this man if they have spent time with him and learned to love him and his family. They will do a great deal more for someone they have learned to love and trust rather than someone they have just met.
The pastor of the reproducing church must develop a deep relationship with this new pastor. He needs to determine if he can be trusted and what kind of job he will do as a new pastor. He should be willing to face problems head on rather than hoping they will go away or that they are not serious enough to cause problems in the new church. If there are warning signs during this period there will be problems when he is pastoring the new church. The new pastor should show he is willing to trust the leadership of the reproducing pastor and demonstrate he is to follow his leadership. When the week of meetings is finished and the new church is completely independent of the reproducing church, the new pastor will still need the advice, wisdom, and experience of the reproducing pastor. The best way for this to be developed is for these men to have a close working relationship before the new church is reproduced.
In the end, the pastor determines if this new man can pastor the church that their church will reproduce. He will be held responsible to God for placing this man in a leadership position.
2. HE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR SELECTING THE NEW AREA FOR THE REPRODUCED CHURCH.
The pastor also should be the one who is ultimately responsible for determining where the new church should be located. He has a better understanding of his “Judea and Samaria” than anyone else. He knows of towns where there are no good fundamental churches and where one could be located that would meet the spiritual needs of a nearby community. Most pastors that I know have a real burden to reach beyond their “Jerusalem” and want to see new churches established that could help them reach their entire area. Sadly, some pastors do not want a church too close to them because they are afraid some of their members will go to the new church. These pastors fail to see that God will bless their ministries greatly if they will get involved in reaching beyond where they can effectively minister.
In one situation in which I was involved, the church planter had determined where he wanted to plant a church but the pastor of the reproducing church had a burden for another area. When he realized the final decision rested upon him, they went to the new area to plant the church rather than the one the church planter had decided upon. The church planter believed in the philosophy that churches reproduce churches and was willing to allow the pastor to make this decision. It proved to be the right decision.
3. HE IS TO OVERSEE THE PROJECT FROM START TO FINISH.
Since we believe churches reproduce churches, the pastor must fulfill the role of an overseer. He is responsible for the direction of the church and the church is responsible for the birth of the new church.
The pastor is fully involved in the ministry of the Word, the discipling his people, and taking care of his flock. This is his first and foremost responsibility. He does not need to do the legwork for the new church but he should be sure that those who do the work report to him on how the project is developing.
The pastor has the experience to determine what needs to be done in the new area. He has the experience that the new pastor or others involved in the project do not have. He has lived in the area, knows the people, and knows the differences in culture that new comers do not know. He should approve the buildings used for the project. He should make the final decisions regarding advertising, the distribution of the John and Romans booklets, and when the week of meetings should be held.
These decisions are not made independently of others involved in the project but in conjunction with them. He takes into consideration all the factors involved and makes the final decision. Someone must be the final decision-maker for the project and since we believe the church reproduces the new church that responsibility falls to the pastor of the reproducing church. BCPM and the pastor of the new church can give advice but the pastor ultimately makes the decision and everyone else involved in the project accepts the decisions he makes.
4. HE IS TO APPROVE AND COMMIT THE REPRODUCING CHURCH TO THE BUDGET FOR THE NEW CHURCH.
Like the birth of a baby into a family, the birth of a church takes a good deal of money. A budget should be set up to cover the costs for the new church. This would include the rental of a building for the week of meetings, the meeting place for the new church, the newspaper advertising, the cost of the John and Romans, any shipping costs involved with the John and Romans, costs for distributing the John and Romans, and any other costs involved in the reproducing of the new church. The expenses are different in every area and for every project.
Once the budget is developed, the pastor should make any changes to the budget either adding or reducing costs, as he considers prudent. One consideration that must be made is not to cut the budget short to save money. If the project is worth doing, it is worth doing right. It is not necessary to over spend either. The budget should be discussed between all the parties involved in order to determine the best budget for reaching the new community.
After the pastor approves the budget, it should be adhered to by all involved in the project. No one should go over the budget unless the pastor specifically approves it. The reproducing church should feel responsible for meeting this budget and develop a system of paying for the project. Not all churches can handle this alone and many times churches helping with the project take love offerings and present it to the new church during the week of meetings. Some reproducing churches include the project in their mission’s budget and cover the expenses entirely. When this happens, the offering during the week of meetings can go for something for the new church. Some offerings have been taken for chairs, for a down payment for land, and for a piano. It is impressive to those visiting when it can be announced that the expenses for the starting of the new church have been covered and that an offering is being used for something special for the new church.
The expenses for a new church should not be left to the church planter or for the new church to pay. No parents would expect their newborn babies to pay the hospital expenses for their birth and neither should local churches expect a “newborn” church to cover the expenses for her birth. The pastor of the reproducing church should consider this the responsibility of the reproducing church and make whatever arrangements need to be made to cover the costs for the planting of the church.
5. HE IS TO DETERMINE WHICH CHURCHES HELP WITH THE WEEK OF MEETINGS.
The new church is going to be similar to the reproducing church. Because of this, the pastor should determine which churches will be “showcased” during the week of meetings. During the meetings, churches are used to show what the new church is going to be like. They demonstrate music, appropriate dress standards, the spirit and tone for the new church, and credibility for the new pastor. This means that the churches should be similar in practice and doctrine to the reproducing church. The pastor will know which churches in the area are best suited to meet this need. For example, if there are churches that are weaker than the reproducing church in the area of music, the pastor would not use them to bring musical groups. If the new church is in an area where people do not shout during the service, a pastor would not want to invite a church that would give that image.
Only the pastor of the reproducing church will know which churches fit the style and personality that he is trying to portray and therefore, he has the responsibility of determining which churches he would like to attend. This is not to reproduce the idiosyncrasies of any church but to reproduce a church that will fit the culture of the area while honoring Christ in every aspect of the church service. Only the pastor of the reproducing church can fully understand and know which churches will enhance the effectiveness of the week of meetings.
6. HE IS TO MAKE THE BIRTH OF THE NEW CHURCH TOP PRIORITY ON THE CHURCH SCHEDULE.
The pastor of the reproducing church should be sure that there are no conflicts with other activities on the church schedule. When children are born into our personal families, we make sure nothing is going to conflict with the birth of the newborn child. Why should this be any different? This is certainly as important as the birth of children into our families.
The calendar of the church should reflect the priority given to this project of the local church. There should be no special church meetings during or even two weeks prior to the week of meetings for the new church. The church family should be encouraged to keep their schedules clear as well. Time is needed for the distribution of the John and Romans prior to week of meetings and the reproducing church should allow members of their church the opportunity to be at the week of meetings every night they can. This is especially true when there is ample seating room in the building for the week of meetings.
The reproducing church should take the Sunday and Wednesday evening services during the week of meetings. The other churches helping during the week will be less likely to have folks away from their churches on those nights. The pastor of the reproducing church should do his best to be at the services every night of the week of meetings. This is especially important for the visitors that attend during the week. His presence tells them that this meeting is very special and that the new pastor is special too. He should make it a point to visit with every visitor from the area telling them how much he appreciates and supports the new pastor. This could make a difference in whether they will attend the new church and support the new pastor.
He should especially be in the services on the final night when the new pastor is preaching. On this evening, he can introduce the new pastor and formally turn the new work over to the pastor. This is the actual birth of the new church and the new work becomes an independent Baptist church at that point. The final service can be a very special time for the reproducing church and the new church. It is a memory that everyone will remember for a long time. It establishes a special relationship between the two churches that nothing else can.
7. HE IS TO MAKE ALL FINAL DECISIONS IN THE CHURCH PLANTING PROCESS.
In essence, the pastor of the reproducing church is fully responsible for the final decisions in the church planting process. Since we believe that the church is responsible for the reproducing of the new church, then the pastor must make all the final decisions for the project. The wise church planter will be willing to let the pastor fulfill this role. The wise pastor will be willing to assume this role. No pastor who accepts this responsibility does so without understanding the implications of it. He is determining the direction of the new church and the success and failure of the ministry. He should give careful consideration to the advice of others involved in the project. This would include the church planter, BCPM, and other pastors from the area. After gleaning all the information from various sources, the pastor must make the final decision. Others involved in the project would also be wise to submit to his leadership understanding that he will answer to God for the decisions he makes. If they cannot live with his decisions, then they should quietly withdraw themselves from the project.
Following the week of meetings, the new church is a fully independent church with no ties to the reproducing church. The reproducing pastor and other pastors in the area that have helped with the week of meetings only serve in an advisory capacity. The wise church planter will see he needs their experience and wisdom. He should avail himself to their help as he pastors the new church. The reproducing pastor will not force his advice or will on the new pastor but is very willing to help when asked. His authority over the new church ended when the week of meetings ended and the “cord was cut” creating a breathing, living organism This organism is a new local church that has a pastor to lead them and guide them.
The role of the reproducing pastor is a very important role. For the new church to succeed and get off to the best start possible, the pastor must take this responsibility seriously. He is a key to the success and growth of this infant church. May God give us pastors who will seriously consider how important they are to the reproducing of new churches.