Southeastern District Lutheran Church Missouri Synod
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Church Planting

Faith cannot grow in isolation; it thrives in community. Church planting fosters such a community by establishing a localized body of believers who can support, encourage, and challenge each other in their spiritual journeys. According to Ephesians 4:12 God “equips his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.”

The local Church indeed is an extension of the invisible community of all time-saints, with Christ as its eternal head. As such, it strengthens believers to become a conduit of empowerment to enhance the mission of Christ.

At its core, a church is a community of love and purpose sustained by Christ’s Spirit. It represents a newer synagogue for believers set apart from the world and who might experience various forms of pushback, yet, strengthened together to fulfill the great commission.

Biblical Perspectives:

God Loves and Builds His church

·      God’s sacrificial love is the cornerstone upon which the Church stands. In Ephesians 5:25, Paul emphasizes that Christ loved the Church so much that He gave His life for it. He delights in his people as they come together redeemed and restores by his blood to celebrate their salvation and bring him praise and honor.

·      God spoke through the prophet Haggai: “Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” (Haggai 1:7). While in the old covenant building his temple made God pleased, the people saved and gathered through his Son’s death and resurrection brings more joy and glory.

·      If a sinner’s repentance and inclusion to the Lord Kingdom ignites jubilation in heaven, the group of sinners who have been redeemed and united stir lots of exuberant joy.

·      And God is committed to build his church. Jesus said “I will build my church” (Mt. 16:18). He paid all the prices needed to establish his redeemed community. He takes the sole ownership of his body of believers. He is indeed greater than King Solomon who built the temple.

·      Gamaliel’s wisdom (Acts. 5:39) underscores that genuine works of God, including church plants rooted in him, will stand the test of time and opposition.

·      The very act of establishing churches is intertwined with the identity and mission of God on earth.

The Church Enhances the Lord’s Reign:

·      Establishing a church manifests God’s intent to grow his Kingdom and influence in the world.

·      Extending God’s presence through planting churches means creating more spaces where God’s love, grace, and mercy are experienced.

·      Like living organisms that reproduce, the Church is called to multiply, grow, and expand, thereby bringing God’s presence to diverse regions and peoples. This multiplication isn’t just numerical but also spiritual, enriching the lives of believers and communities.

·      The Church is meant to be a reflection of God’s character, reflecting his holiness, love, and righteousness in the world (Eph. 5:26-27, 1 Pet. 1:16). Each church plant becomes another outpost of God’s kingdom on earth, furthering his reign and influence (Eph. 1:22). Thus, new churches become fresh centers of such transformative influence.

The Church as a Medium of God’s Communication.

·      The Church is God’s chosen instrument for communicating his love, grace, and purpose to the world (Eph. 1:21-23). Paul’s remarks remind us that the Church isn’t a mere institution but a conduit through which God engages and fills the world.

·      As the Church grows, it plays an instrumental role in furthering God’s dominion, making his love more accessible to diverse populations.

·      The Church is entrusted with the treasures of God’s gifts, ranging from the proclamation of the Gospel to the celebration of the sacraments. By planting new churches, these divine gifts are made available to broader communities, enriching more lives.

·      The Church isn’t just an institution; it’s where believers encounter God’s manifest presence. The New Testament believers naturally incorporated the Church into their daily lives, resulting in organic communities of faith, like house-churches (Acts 16:15). Planting churches today can reignite this intimate virtue of fellowship and solidarity.

.     Church planting, much like farming, is a labor-intensive endeavor that requires hard work and skills. Just as a farmer diligently prepare the land, sow seeds, add fertilizer, and eventually harvest the fruit, church planting encompasses a series of deliberate steps. Initially, the groundwork must be laid to understand the community’s needs. Seeds of faith are then sown through evangelism and outreach. Nourishment comes in the form of discipleship, teaching, and community engagement, ensuring that the newly planted church grows healthily. Finally, the fruits of this labor – a vibrant, faith-filled community – must be tended to, ensuring that spiritual growth continues and that the message of the Gospel is distributed effectively among its members (1 Cor. 3:5-9). However, church planting transcends mere organizational or programmatic efforts. It’s not just about holding conferences, setting up legal structures like a 501c, or organizing crusades. At its core, church planting is about establishing an “ongoing community” of believers who live out their faith daily, supporting one another, and continually seeking spiritual growth. This community doesn’t cease to exist when formal programs end; instead, it thrives as a living testament to the enduring presence of God and the power of shared faith.

Church planting objectives include:

o   Evangelism: The primary goal is to reach out to people who do not know Christ, offering them an opportunity to hear the Gospel and to come into a relationship with Jesus.

o   Discipleship: Church planting helps nurture new believers into mature disciples of Christ who make disciples.

o   Community: Building a solid community of believers who love, support, and encourage each other.

o   Service: Churches often serve as hubs for community service, meeting physical and emotional needs in their local contexts.

Church Planting Implementation

Foundational Implementation:

·       Vision Casting

o   Organize a vision-casting session where you share God’s call for the new church. Use prayerful discernment, storytelling, brainstorming, and media to convey the message.
o   Just as God gave Abraham a vision for a great nation in Genesis 12:1-3, begin with a divinely inspired perspective.

·       Survey and Assessment

·       Make a survey of potential areas, considering population demographics, existing churches, and community needs.

·       Apostle Paul traveled based on where he felt called, considering the needs and openness of regions.

·       Engagement Strategies

·       Develop engagement strategies that resonate with the local context. It could be community services, arts and music events, career development or educational initiatives…

·       Jesus used parables, culturally-relevant stories, to communicate the truth.

·       Resource Allocation

·       Allocate resources wisely, balancing between evangelism, discipleship, community building, and service initiatives.

·       Utilize volunteer talents within the church.

·       Jesus’ parable of the talents as recorded in Matthew 25:14-30 emphasizes effective resource management.

·       Regular Feedback and Adaptation

·       Continually seek feedback on church activities. Stay sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading and be ready to adjust plans accordingly.

·       Acts 16:6-10 – Paul’s journey was redirected by the Holy Spirit from Asia to Macedonia.

Operational Implementation:

S.E.E.D Model for Church Planting:
·       Service (Taking Cues from the Good Samaritan):
·       Biblical Basis: Luke 10:25-37 – The Good Samaritan emphasizes the importance of meeting the needs of our neighbors.
·       Implementation: Begin with a community needs assessment. Initiate projects like food banks, tutoring programs, health camps, and counseling services. Collaborate with local organizations and encourage member-led service projects.
·       Evangelism (Inspired by Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch):
·       Biblical Basis: Acts 8:26-40 – Philip’s divinely led encounter with the Ethiopian Eunuch.
·       Implementation: Organize contextual community events. Utilize technology, like social media and live streaming, to reach a broader audience. Ensure the Gospel presentation is both relatable and contextually appropriate.
·       Empowerment through Discipleship (Modeled by Jesus & The Twelve disciples):
·       Biblical Basis: The careful and intentional mentorship Jesus provided to the twelve disciples.
·       Implementation: Offer a well-structured discipleship program. Use traditional methods such as Bible study groups, combined with innovative strategies like online courses, apps, and interactive workshops. Consider organizing periodic retreats or camps for in-depth discipleship.
·       Deepening Community (Reflecting the Early Church in Acts):
·       Biblical Basis: Acts 2:42-47 – A glimpse into the close-knit community of the early church.
·       Implementation: Promote small home-based fellowship groups. Organize events like shared meals, testimonies, and group activities. Harness digital platforms or a dedicated church app to keep the community connected throughout the week.

Cyclic Nature: After the ‘Deepening Community’ phase, revisit the ‘Service’ phase, ensuring that the church always remains active and involved in its community, and continually returns to its core mission. The cycle then naturally progresses again through Evangelism, Empowerment through Discipleship, and so on.

The S.E.E.D model ensures a church’s growth remains rooted in service, evangelism, empowerment, and community deepening

Church Planting Models and Adaptivity

Several models of church planting exist including:
•           Parachute Model: This model involves a planter or a team moving to a new location to start a church from scratch.
•           Mother-Daughter Model: This model involves an existing church providing the resources and support to start a new church.
•           Multi-Site Model: A single church opens multiple campuses in different locations in this model.
•           House Church Model: This model involves small groups meeting in homes, which can eventually multiply into new house churches.

As the Church seeks to remain a voice of truth and freedom  in an ever-changing world, it must adapt its faith community planting methods. Some adaptive methods include:
•           Bi-vocational Planting: In this model, the church planter works at a regular job market and leads the Church.
•           Micro Church Planting: This involves starting small churches that may meet in various places, focusing on deep relationships and discipleship.
•           Utilizing Internet and Social Media: Technology can be harnessed for online church services and community building, reaching individuals who may not otherwise attend a physical church.
•           Cross-Cultural Planting: This involves planting churches in diverse cultural contexts, adapting worship and ministry practices to fit the culture.

•           Community Involvement and Service: This adaptive method focuses on serving and engaging the local community as a means of church growth.