I was thrilled when I receive Pastor Rick Warren’s article for this past week’s issue of the new Pastor’s Toolbox. I’m not sure if it’s because we feel the threat of extinction is too close or that we’re just too individualistic, but the American church is obsessed with self-preservation and has failed to multiply and replenish the land with vibrant new fellowships. Listen to what Pastor Rick says is the most important thing your church will ever do…
Church planting is part of Saddleback’s DNA. We’ve started at least one church every year since the beginning.
It is simply who we are. We believe that mature churches are just like mature plants or mature people: they bear fruit.
You can tell an apple tree is mature when it starts growing apples. You can tell a Christian is mature when he or she starts winning other people to Christ. And, you can tell a congregation is mature when it starts having babies—planting other churches.
I believe any definition of fruitfulness for a local church must include the planting of new congregations in addition to growth by the conversion of unbelievers. If we’re not reproducing, then it is a sign that something is unhealthy in our congregations. As I’ve often said, a church’s health is measured by its sending capacity, not its seating capacity.
Regardless of size or location, your church can help start new congregations. At Saddleback Church, we started our first church plant when we had 150 people coming to the weekend services. The truth is, it doesn’t take a megachurch to start new churches.
Jesus doesn’t expect us to produce more than we can, but he does expect us to produce all that we can by his power within us.
God has called us to the great task of planting a new church but we are absolutely determined to do more than plant a church. We want to plant a church planting church, a multiplying movement that begins with a vision of launching other churches as soon and as often as possible.
What has baffled me is that as we’ve cast this vision to potential supporters, so few are eager to get involved – not so much with our church plant, but with any church plant. We assume that the “big” churches or denominations can handle it. But the truth is that from the era of the New Testament, local churches have initiated the process of launching “daughter” churches.
Every church has something to give, and I want to echo Pastor Rick’s challenge to get involved. You don’t have to send out half of your membership to be involved in church planting. It can be as simple as…
- Send your Pastor to visit a church planter or two for the purpose of encouraging them.
- Send a small group to help a church plant reach out to its community (but make your own arrangements).
- Partner with a new church plant for $100 per month for three years, or go all out and commit $30,000 per year for three years.
- Bring interns alongside your leadership and offer to make a contribution to their preparation for being involved in church planting.
- Work with denominational missions leaders or church planting networks to birth a new church out of your resources.
You can start small or dive in, but decide today that the Great Commission is more than just sending money to foreign fields. It’s also about reaching everyone around us as well, and few strategies work as well to expand the kingdom as church planting.
And on a personal note, we have a goal of raising $80,000 over the next six months and while we’re over halfway there, we still need to raise another $30,000 or more, so if your church can help, I’d love to hear from you.