Engaging Every Church in Church Planting

Joel Nelson

Director of Church Strengthening, Converge North Central

  • Church planting & multiplication

In communicating the overall ministries of Converge North Central, you might often hear us speak of Starting, Strengthening, Sending, and Camping. 

In camping, we are blessed with two camps (Pines Lake Camps and Trout Lake Camps) that have a long history of effective ministry and the future is bright.

Sending also has a rich history within our movement. Whether it be our involvement in places like Ukraine, the many missionaries who serve in Converge’s International Ministry and hail from our district, to the generous support of CNC churches to mission fields around the world, CNC and its churches continue to value “sending.”

Strengthening happens through a variety of opportunities and ministries to help pastors and churches overcome barriers and obstacles in an effort to be more effective in fulfilling their mission.

Starting is rooted in CNC’s desire to see new churches planted and new sites begun. It’s seeing new congregations birthed and developed in order to reach more and more people for Christ.

Though the reality is, many see a dichotomy between church starting and church strengthening, a tension between established churches and new churches. The questions is often asked, “Shouldn’t we take care of revitalizing existing churches before we go start more?”

This perspective will only limit the Kingdom impact we can have as a movement of churches. Instead of tension between the two, we should view it as an overlap. In our churches, we don’t choose between discipleship program or evangelistic ministries. We don’t put all of our eggs into our worship ministries at the expense of our hospitality ministry. In the same way, strengthening and starting is not an either/or, but instead a both/and.

Every pastor of every church should be engaged in church planting. Here’s three reasons for you to consider…

Starting new churches reaches lost people.

Whether you resonate with starting, strengthening, sending, or camping, we can all agree that lost people need Jesus.

Many years ago at a CNC annual meetings, one of our pastors who’s church was active in starting new churches, told a story about his son, who had left the church. This pastor knew that his son would not engage in a church similar to the one he was pastoring. He knew he would not engage with a more “traditional church.” The reason this pastor was sold out to church planting was to reach people for Jesus, including his own son.

Church planters often have specific skills and gifts, but the greatest driving force that we see among church planters is the desire to see people won to Jesus.  When an existing church is involved in a church plant, people will be won to Jesus in that new church. People who may be less receptive to your church might be more receptive to the new church.

If we’re going to reach our communities, cities, and state for the Gospel, it’s going to take hundreds of more churches. Converge North Central covers almost 145, 000 square miles! In addition to our size, we are incredibly diverse. The need to reach all peoples for Christ is great.

Starting new churches follows a Biblical pattern.

In the New Testament we observe a pattern of starting new churches. What do we see the disciples doing upon receiving the commissions of Jesus? They started churches. Most of the churches who’s story is recorded in the New Testament were involved in sending people in some form or another to start churches.

Interestingly enough, the Jerusalem Church was an exception. They sent people out to check up on the new churches to make sure they were playing by the church’s rules.

We still have “Jerusalem churches” today. They get the most passionate when they believe another church is doing something wrong. We need to change that truth. The starting of new churches is a value found in Scripture that should be supported today. Every church in Converge North Central has a birthday. Every church was a church plant at one point in their history. Let’s model that spirit again and start more churches.

Church planting benefits the planting church

A PhD dissertation a few years ago investigated the impact church planting had upon the churches that were involved in helping parent other churches.  Comparing congregations from a variety of sizes that had been involved in planting to similar size and type churches that had not planted, the study found that churches actively engaged in church planting were healthier than those that did not.

We tend to think that healthy churches plant churches. However, it is more true that being involved in parenting a church actually makes a church healthier.

There’s never a good time

There are more reasons why established churches should be engaged in starting new churches and there will always be numerous reasons why you shouldn’t. “We’re too small. We’re too young. We’re too old. We don’t have enough money. We have our own problems we need to fix first.”

An informal survey asked pastors what was the optimal size to plant a church. Regardless of the church size or it’s context, most of the answers were about 25% larger then they currently were.

Being involved in church planting is like having a baby. There’s never really a good time, it costs a lot of money, time, and energy. Childbirth is messy and takes a lot work, but in the end, a wonderful new life is born, the labor is forgotten, and we often want to have another!

For more information on how your church engage in church planting, contact, CNC’s Director of Starting,  Joel Nelson.

Joel Nelson, Director of Church Strengthening, Converge North Central

Director of Church Strengthening

Additional articles by Joel Nelson