I am currently in Toronto with a team of 18 from the Jacksonville area. We have pastors and ministry leaders from numerous churches in our city here seeking ways to partner and support church planters and the church planting effort.
There is much to consider and as our church (First Baptist Church) moves forward in this journey, we must be very strategic in this process. We are partnering with Mike Hauser and Starting Point Church. Starting Point is located in Burlington, Ontario (a suburb in the GTA - Greater Toronto Area.) While we have already been working together with gifting of resources and prayer, there is much more that can be done.
There is one way brought to my attention today in our strategy session that seems to be such an easy fit. We identify three "P"s to offer our church planting partners (Prayer, People and Provision). While these seem easy, they are not. But. . .who said anything would be easy. We must do the hard things.
The first "P" (Prayer) seems easy enough, but even in that strategy, we are going to up the ante. Through Google Maps and some other online options, we are going to begin praying for streets, areas, homeowners, businesses and business owners in the area of Starting Point Church. More on this to come in a later posting.
The third "P" (Provision) is simply an acronymical way to say "Money." We will be sending funds, as we have done for other planters, throughout the year. Again, more details to come.
That leaves the second "P" (People). The option I heard today leads directly to this. We have been looking at church calendars and school calendars the last few weeks and, just like every year, there are numerous "three day weekends." These weekends are either holiday weekends like Labor Day and Memorial Day, or simply school holidays or in-service days for teachers.
It is on these three-day weekends, that we often see an attendance dip on Sunday mornings.
Here's the strategy. If a couple or even a small group would commit to come to Burlington, Ontario on these three-day weekends to serve and minister in Starting Point, we would begin to see some incredible things take place not only here in Canada, but in Orange Park. Mission trips have traditionally been very expensive and time consuming. While we still offer the one or two-week long options, the three-day weekend mission excursion to Canada becomes a very real, cost-effective, mission trip.
I envision it this way: an individual or couple could fly up to Buffalo, NY, rent a car, drive by Niagara Falls and then over the border to Burlington all before noon on a Friday or Saturday. A hotel room would be needed, so that would have to be done. Then, they could connect with Mike Hauser or others in the church for some fellowship or maybe offer to watch their kids so Mike and his wife could have a "date night." Of course, Saturdays would be a time to set up for Sunday worship. Volunteering to serve on Sunday in the ministry of the church could be so very beneficial.
A return trip on Sunday afternoon or Monday morning then completes the weekend.
This is all very raw at this point, but can you imagine couples taking their three-day weekend to go on a very-short term mission excursion to Canada, serving with the church planter we are sponsoring as a sending church? The mission is done, the church in Burlington is blessed, a church planter and family are blessed, First Baptist Church of Orange Park is blessed, the couple is blessed and best of all -Kingdom work is accomplished.
All to the glory of God.
Still thinking about this, but begin praying. Let's reclaim these three-day weekends. The needs are too great and the fields truly are white unto harvest.
Every member of the church must be on mission. This is another way to be so.