The best thing a sending church can give a church plant is people. Money is good, counsel is helpful, but feet on the ground have a greater impact than anything else. Unfortunately this is often the last thing that sending churches want to give away. You can name a lot of reason like the hassle of having to replace them and the loss of tithing income but what it boils down to is fear.
I was talking with a church planter recently whose church is going great in the very early stages. The only struggle they are having is they don’t have a worship leader. So this planter is setting up and tearing down, leading worship, and then teaching. Way too heavy of a load for one man. As we texted back and forth I asked if there was anyone from his sending church who come along side him and lead worship. He did say there was a guy who was going to come with him but the sending church talked him out of going.
Unfortunately that is more the norm than not. Church planting is the “it” thing to do with churches today and you can be construed as a hip pastor if you are sending out church planters from your church, but to do it correctly takes commitment and sacrifice. One of the biggest sacrifices a sending church and pastor can do is to commit their people to making the church plant successful. Hoarding talent for your own purposes can have damaging effects down the line. We need to create a pipeline of sending people out. If we don’t the church will get clogged with people who are under utilizing their talents and ultimately the kingdom of God isn’t fully being reached.
One of the biggest sacrifices a sending church and pastor can do is to commit their people to making the church plant successful. Hoarding talent for your own purposes can have damaging effects down the line.
When we went out to plant The Village Chapel eight years ago, my pastor Paul Berry, from Calvary Chapel Santa Maria stood in front of the church and challenged people to go and serve for one year. Sixty-Five people took the challenge and went with us! Did it cause a little panic at the mother church? Heck yeah. Did it cause some discomfort in the ministries and in the giving? You better believe it, but it set our church on the path to success and stability because he did that.
As sending churches we need to give our people away. It will grow our faith as leaders, stretch the people who stay back, and create space for people to step up and serve where they weren’t before. Holding on to our people will cause stagnation and eliminate opportunities for them to step up into leadership. When we send out planters don’t send them out empty handed, send a team of people who will labor next to them. It will lay the foundation for a successful plant and will encourage the planter who is faithfully serving.
Chuck Musselwhite was used of God to plant Village Chapel in Lompoc on the central California coast in 2006. He has been instrumental in establishing Calvary Church Planting Network and has a passion for equipping and sending church planters. You can follow Pastor Chuck and Village Chapel on Facebook and Twitter.