At the SEND>>North America Conference today in Dallas, I was asked to share briefly with pastors and ministy leaders considering partnering and planting in Toronto. The Toronto gathering attracted a good number of church leaders. The Toronto team shared the vision for their city briefly and then planters and advocates shared a little of their passion, vision and partnership reasoning.
To close out our meeting, I was asked to speak to pastors directly regarding partnering and planting. As a pastor of an established church (i.e. an old church with much tradition) I was to share basics and challenge pastors to lead their congregations beyond just agreeing that church planting was biblical and a good idea, but into doing something about it.
I shared about the "3 P's" needed from sponsoring and advocate churches. These are. . .
- Prayer - This is first, strategic and essential.
- People - Teams of short-term missionaries are always needed. However, sending teams to a city to "do church" for a planter without knowing the needs of the planter and the contextualization of the area is a recipe for failure. In other words, when an established church sends their mission team to "do mission work" as they define it, without consulting the planter, the planter often ends up having to "fix" that which the mission team did.
- Provision - In other words, money and resources are needed. This is beyond an Annie Armstrong Offering (though that is vital) and becomes resources specific for the planter, the plant and the community being served.
Every church can offer these three things, but there is another subject that must be covered. The default mode for most churches is to build leadership teams, equip saints and make disciples. . .who will stay at the local church and serve. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but over time, the local church can fall into the trap of being "hoarders." While hoarding may make for an interesting reality show for some (not me,) it is deadly when it comes to Kingdom growth.
Over the last few years, God has shown me that we have a choice as a church. We can be a launching pad or a landing pad. A launching pad, much like the ones at Cape Canaveral, are designed to get an object out of orbit, for work to be done elsewhere.
This is the role of the local church as well as related to leaders.
For the church, could it be that God is calling us to gather the best, high-capacity leaders and disciples of Christ within our church fellowship for the purpose of sending them out to serve? What we most often do is hoard the very best within the walls. The local church will have wonderful ministries and, honestly, some of those leaders are called to stay and serve. However, there are many who are simply called to serve for a short amount of time in the home church, only to be sent out into the fields.
I'm reminded of Christ's statement about the "fields being white unto harvest" and the "workers being few." Too often the workers are gathering in the barn talking about how great it would be if someone would go harvest the field while no one steps outside to do the work. Talk is cheap.
My question is simply this, "What if God is preparing leaders within the local church so they may be launched into ministry elsewhere?" Does that sound like a Kingdom-focus to you?
It is my contention that this is our calling.
It's one thing to say "We support church planters."
It's another to say "We're sending our own to plant or to help plant."
That is our calling. It's a challenging step. Yet, it is the only corrrect one.
Is your church a launching pad or landing pad?