Can you imagine eating your meal out of a doggie dish? I don’t know about you, but I would decline no matter how fine and flavorful the food and no matter how clean the canine china. Not only in food but also in church planting, placement is everything.
I recently received an email with the following question: “…how did you go about finding where God wanted you to plant a church? Do you have any advice about discerning where it is that God would have me to start a work?” That vital question prompted this post.
Every pioneering pastor should expend large portions of sanctified energy seeking two locations:
1. Place yourself in a reproducing church.
“As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” Acts 13:2
Before that decision of the new location is made you must seek the Lord’s will on which church will be your reproducing church and pastor. I believe this is more crucial than even the location of the new church! Clearly the Bible teaches that churches, not Lone Rangers, reproduce churches. Once that is settled, then you let the Lord use that pastor and church to confirm or challenge your own sense of God’s leading. Remember that God leads through His Word, His Spirit, and His counselors who often remove our subjective interpretation and application of the first two sources. To get placement in the new church right, you must humbly seek a local church willing to assume the “parenting” role of a fledgling work. What success we have had in church-planting at North Pointe directly correlates to the prayerful, financial, high-involved commitment of our reproducing church, Mansfield Baptist Temple.
2. Place yourself in a responsive context.
“Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation:” Romans 15:20
Here are some faulty contexts to ignore:
- It is close to the home you own or extended family.
- It has a building that is inexpensive and available.
- It has a group of people that have split from a church and are looking for a new pastor to help them get started.
- It appears “easy” to get a church started based on the religious, financial, social median of the community.
Here are some solid contexts to consider:
- It is an area lacking solid, local church ministry.
Note: While a need does not always necessitate a call, God will call you to an area of need!
- It is a liberal region of the country.
Note: If we should learn anything from our political, moral, and social trends, it should be the admonition to reach many of the urban centers as well as east/west coast regions of the United States.
- It is the center of a growing population.
Note: Times of monumental transition are some of the greatest opportunities to reach a person, a family, and a community.
- It is mentioned often by other preachers, Christian leaders, and local believers driving a distance to church as an area of great need.
Note: God truly used this step in our church plant here in Wooster with several pastors who possessed a heart for our city.
- It is strategically located to reach not just a local city but an entire region.
Note: This will position the new church to quickly be able assume the role of the reproducing church in other immediate areas. (Our church is preparing to reproduce its first church in spring 2014 within 45 minutes of Wooster.)
While church planting involves great sacrifice, may we never sacrifice on location, location, location. From personal experience, this process takes time filled with lengthy prayers, humble conversations, and multiple survey trips. One of the frequent joys I have is traveling to a new city and listening to how God led a church planter to his “sweet spot.” Please do not shortcut this necessary step! The local church is the height of God’s priorities; may we invest the preparation needed to plant it in its proper, divinely-placed soil. In church planting, placement is everything!
What else would you add that assists with LOCATION in church planting?