For far too long, leading an established church was completely disconnected from church planting. Those who were a pastor of an established church never gave any thought to the needs and challenges of church planting. On the flip side, church planters gave no thought to the needs and challenges of pastoring an established church. The two were viewed as separate, unrelated, and completely independent of each other. Thankfully, that mentality has started to change — but it still exists.
It is becoming more common to hear of established churches being involved in planting churches. There are several ways this can take place.
1- Financial partnerships
One of the simplest ways an established church can be involved in planting churches is by supporting a new church plant financially. One of the greatest challenges that a church planter usually faces is funding. Many times established churches are in a position to contribute those needed funds. In addition to finances, established churches can offer prayer support, help with service projects, and even send some of their members to help the new church get off the ground. This all helps new churches grow.
2- Merging with a new church
I am always encouraged when I hear of an established church opening their arms and welcoming a new church plant by way of a merger. The reality is that some established churches are struggling. They have the land, the facilities, and the heritage, but lack the people, excitement, vision, and energy. Merging with a new church plant allows them to leverage what they possess to advance the Gospel. At the same time, it can be a huge blessing to the new church plant.
3- Satellite venues that become autonomous
As churches see growth they face the challenge of where to put people. Should they build a new building? Do they go to multiple services? This is a question each church must answer on their own, but many are finding that starting a satellite venue with the goal of that venue becoming autonomous is an intentional way to further their mission and reach more people. In this scenario, the satellite venue is an extension of the church until the church is able to support itself, at which point it is released or commissioned by the original church to operate on its own.
4- Strategically starting a new church
Some healthy established churches have church planting as part of their vision. While they are open to the above options, they are also willing to simply send someone out from their church and support them while they plant a new church. Sometimes multiple churches work together for the purpose of seeing a new church started. Churches who do this are healthy, missional, and have a specific vision for church planting.
5- Supporting a church planting network or training organization
If the above options are not available at a specific time, but yet you still desire your church to contribute to the cause of church planting, you could consider financially supporting a church planting network or training organization. These groups work with God-called church planters to provide networks of support and training. Many times the church planters who come out of these networks have been given the tools they need to start a missional church. While you may not have a church planter to specifically partner with, supporting one of these organizations can go a long way to helping start churches.
One such training organization in my area is The Cypress Project. They do a great job of equipping church planters with the tools they need to advance the Gospel through church planting.
Established churches should be involved in planting other churches. Why? It is a great way to partner together for the sake of the gospel.
What are some other ways established churches can be involved in church planting? Comment below!