Too Early to Church Plant? 4 Questions to AskBy Blair Cushman
January 26, 2021
In December we brought on our first church planting resident at Redemption. Two months prior to his start we celebrated our three year anniversary as a church. We are by no means a large church with a massive budget. I am the only current full-time staff member, though we are actively looking to hire another full-time staff member soon. We have a part-time admin, two lay elders, and a multitude of faithful small group and ministry team leaders. Each of these leaders gets that we are all about strategic church planting. They are pretty passionate about planting churches in central Texas and around the globe.
The mission to make disciples drives us, despite what may look too small or too weak or too young. Yet here we are, investing in a man and his wife in hopes of deploying him into church planting by the end of 2021. As elders, we have come to the conclusion that it is not too early for us to plant churches that will plant churches. We want to do so wisely and with great faith. Strategic church planting is not simply a neat attribute to hang on the wall. It is our mandate.
The Questions You’re Asking
Maybe you and your church are in a similar boat as the one I’ve just described. You are praying and seeking direction. You are searching the Scriptures for answers. You are asking the same questions we asked. Are we too young? Are we too small? Can we afford it? Are we too prideful? What do we know?
I do not have definitive, data-driven answers to each of these questions. Are we too young? Wait until you are three years old. Are we too small? Wait until you have 250 attendees. Can we afford it? Wait until your giving is over $500K. Are we too prideful? Probably. What do we know? A lot less than we think we do.
There might be some truth in those quick answers and there is certainly some sarcasm. Let me instead share with you some better questions to ask (and answer!) as a means to help you make strategic church planting a more forward part of your mission.
Better Questions to Assess Readiness for Church Planting
The questions above are normal. But there are better, more crucial questions to ask. What follows is four questions that will help you assess your church’s readiness to begin the church planting process.
- Are we healthy? I love the emphasis within GCC on strengthening leaders and the focus on leading healthy. We have heard it said that “healthy things multiply.” That is what we want: healthy churches planting healthy churches to the glory of God. Instead of asking how old should a church be before it gets involved in church planting, we need to ask ourselves if we are healthy. Do we have faithful, available, integrity-filled, teachable, and humble people leading? Are our systems running efficiently and our teams serving smoothly? Be less concerned about being old and impressive and more concerned about being healthy and humble.
- Does our church get our DNA? We have six attributes and seven values as GCC churches. Does every level of our church “get it” even if they can’t rightly articulate them? We must be leading our churches in these non-negotiable biblical principles and if we are then we are ready to influence others to be the same type of church. Build these attributes into your preaching and assimilation processes first if you want to prepare your church to multiply.
- Do we have the right leaders to influence this? I once met with some leaders in another church planting network who jokingly, though seriously, quipped, “Here’s the thing you need to know about our network: No one’s in charge and no one knows what’s going on!” I have been grieved for them ever since. That sounds like a recipe for disaster. Godly leadership is a gift from God for his glory and everyone’s benefit. Planting a church requires clear, humble, ambitious leadership both in the church planter and in the sending church. It can not fall on just one man but on the plurality and ministry leaders as well. Each level of leadership should have an influence on a church planter and a new church plant. This will both strengthen their leadership and massively equip the new church.
- What do we need to say “no” to so that we have enough margin? Church planting is a work of generosity. It is a joyful giving of time and resources that could be spent elsewhere. It may mean waiting to hire another full-time staff member for your church. It may mean waiting to launch another ministry for your own city. It may mean not supporting other worthwhile efforts. It may mean declining invitations to serve on boards. But each “no” or “not yet” means you have that much more margin to the eternal work of church planting. It means you will be giving your best energy and effort towards the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
Is now the time to invest in church planting? Yes.
Is now the time to go full throttle in making disciples? Absolutely.