I get to meet and work with a lot of different churches for my job at the Send Network. I'm often asked what my job entails. When I tell people I work with trainers to help couples start new churches, I get a lot of interesting responses. Some ask, “What’s that?” Others will tell me they've tried that before and it didn’t work.
As a denomination, my tribe (Southern Baptists) has a history that is a mixed bag when it comes to how churches get planted and the effectiveness of those plants. I believe we are turning a corner with our approach.
One of the reasons for my hopefulness is what I see happening at the Send Network, an extension of the North American Mission Board. I have the privilege of working there as the Director of Church Planter Training, so my perspective is one from the inside. But I am encouraged, and it has a lot to do with the values I see being embraced by the network of churches and church plants that are part of the Send Network. We have great strategies and our vision of seeing a multiplying church in every community in North America is something that pushes us forward to make much of Jesus. But it’s the values I see being lived out within our churches and planters that are changing the culture.
Values Create Culture
The values are: brotherhood, multiplication and restoration. Each of these on their own are impactful. They could stand alone and reshape what we do, but combined, they have a multiplicative effect.
I grew up on a 40-acre farm in Oklahoma and got to watch horse pulling competitions as a kid. I was amazed to see how much these animals could pull by themselves, but what was more amazing was what happened when the horses were coupled and worked together. When that happened, the load they could pull was usually three to four times what a single horse could pull. There was a multiplicative effect. This is what I see happening when these values are coupled together and lived out by the churches and plants of the Send Network. I want to unpack each value in two parts, then ask you: How can you and your church embrace these values as we work together to make an impact in North America and around the world for our Heavenly Father? In this post, we will consider Value #1: Brotherhood.
Brotherhood: No Planting Couple Should Plant Alone
We want to be seen as a family of churches that are partnering together to equip the planter or planting couple to plant a healthy, multiplying church. From the moment the conversation starts with a planter or couple until the day the church is born, we want the network of churches involved. So, what would a healthy network of churches look like that produce a healthy, multiplying church? It would have established churches and church plants that are partnering together and sending out their best people. Recently, I witnessed pastors and planters that took time from their own churches to show up to a new planter’s “launch service.” Some came before the service started. Others stayed for the whole service to show support to their friend as he planted. They did this because they see each other as family and family members don't let each other go it alone.
If you are in an established church, what are some ways you can come alongside that new planter or planting couple that has just arrived in your community? How can you welcome them into your community to love on them and work with them? Planter, what does it look like for you to get to know those local pastors in the place where you are starting something new? No one should go it alone.
I always come back to the New Testament example of Paul and his team of disciples. They did everything as a team or family of believers. In the letters to the churches that Paul started, he was always sending someone back to check on them in his absence. When people were sent out, it was always in teams. It’s a clear model for us to learn from and use as we start new churches and partner together to make sure no one should go it alone.
Next week, in Part 2 of this post, we will take a look at the values of multiplication and restoration.