8 Things You Can Do to Help Your Local Church Planter

Church planting is a necessary and vital aspect for other churches to fulfill the Great Commission in reaching lost souls; particularly “home missions” in the United States. If you have a local church planter in your area, what are you doing to help them? My hope and desire is that you will not allow the men and women who are laboring in a new work to be an island to themselves, but rather be the shot in the arm and an encouraging and motivated force to help them keep going.

My family and I live in a metroplex where urban cities intertwine and the old suburban areas are no longer on the outskirts of town. Cityscapes of shopping centers and housing divisions are everywhere! The population here is continually growing and industry is thriving. Even with Baptist churches of all sizes in our area, God is calling men and women to our area to begin new works because the population growth is so rapid. Baby churches are scattered throughout the cities here, and the church where we help our pastor is one of them. Naturally, church planting and supporting church planters is a living burden on my heart since that is our life now.

Do you know if you have local church planters in your area? Do you know their names? Have you chosen to be a blessing to them? Are you their friend? Have you forgotten to keep in touch or pray for them like you promised? Lord willing, these ideas will help you find a way to be a blessing.

8 Things You Can Do to Help Your Local Church Planter

1. Fellowship and Food.  A church planter needs friends and friends aren’t real friends unless there is food involved!

Encourage a church planter by taking him out to a meal and talking with him and his family about their church work. Let them share their heart and listen. Pray with them. If you discern their family is needing more than a restaurant meal, then possibly provide them grocery money or a gift card to meet those needs.

2. Inclusion. Include your local church planter and his church in your large activities.

Consider inviting them to be a part of: church camp, luncheons, revivals, retreats, Bible studies, men’s and women’s meetings, etc. If their church is small they probably do not host their own spiritual growth activities and may miss participating in them. Everyone needs spiritual sharpening times to boost them in their day-to-day routines.

3. A Church Service Visit. Actually attend one of their church services!

A neighboring church had a combined afternoon service a few weeks ago and ended their daily services at 2 pm. Several families from their church traveled 30 minutes to attend our church services at 4:30 pm. Our pastor seemed to beam a special smile during his sermon that day. It was a boost in attendance from the two families in our church right now.

If you are able to see what is going on in their church plant, it will most likely burden your heart for church planting all over again. And if you can’t go, send a faithful family or two in your stead who will be a blessing.

4. Door-knocking and Outreach Help. Share a pair of feet, or two, or three, or 10!

It is a blessing to see other churches send families to help a church planter knock doors and pass out flyers before their very first service. Excitement buzzes in the air and there is a hope visitors will attend. Then, the first services comes and goes, often leaving one man to do his door-knocking alone with his family.

What if your church helped your local church planter regularly sending couples weekly to help? Or what if you designated at least two special visitation helps in your “Judaea” and helped sow seed in another man’s fields? I believe that in sowing you also would reap blessings when you see their fields begin to bear fruit.

5. Real Prayer. Don’t just say you will pray for someone… do it!

It’s common to take a person’s prayer card or tell someone you are praying for them and not think about them until that card falls out of your Bible or you see them again. Prayer letters hang in churches on bulletin boards as people pass by and names are written in bulletins as prayer requests and can still be overlooked.

Make your statement of saying you will pray for that church planter into real prayer for their ministry and family. Invest time in authentically praying for their needs and the souls they are meant to reach.

6. Peace. “Do all things without murmurings and disputings.” Philippians 3:14

Ruffled feathers show themselves when a pastor believes another man’s church is encroaching on his idea of where the “boundaries” or “lines” of his church outreach should be. Shun the temptation to become a jealous competitor if your local church planter is encroaching on your idea of where he should be. Set that aside and be peaceful. God adds to each local church as He sees fit and can work best with peaceful ministers who refuse competition, criticism, gossip, and hypocrisy. If you see him wave as you pass by.  And if there is a problem, just talk about it peacefully and see if you can come up with a solution.

Ladies, this can happen with us too. Find a way to push past any jealousies you may encounter and be a real friend and a blessing to the church planter’s wife.

7. More encouragement and understanding, less expectations.

It’s easy to shove people and ministries into a box and assume a pastor should be at a certain amount of members by a specific deadline. If you know a local church planter who is still struggling don’t write him off as a failure. He needs your support! If you are able, do what you can to help Him stay faithfully serving God’s call on his life. Church planters need local friends who will check on them, call them, listen, and not compare him with their own experience or with any other ministry.

8. Give Families. Yes, you heard that right, give people rather than dollars.

It’s easy to give dollars to a local church planter because you can see the need your area has for the gospel. Challenge yourself to give more than dollars and prayerfully consider giving families to them instead of your dollars. If you have an established church with faithful members you already know what a blessing it is to have help and trained workers who understand the Bible and obey it.

What would it do to a new ministry if they had a group of church members to help? Faithful people who were willing to give their tithes and offerings to the new church and help use their talents to reach people, and help disciple them are priceless. We know God loves a cheerful giver and encourages “give and it shall be given unto you…” Why do churches shirk from the idea when it comes to giving families? Do you believe He would supply the needs of your church if you asked a Sunday School teacher or deacon’s family to pray about moving their membership? God most certainly would! It could also be as easy as asking families who live nearer that ministry to consider supporting the church plant. Ask God if He might have you support your local church planter in that way. I know churches do not like to lose folks, but I would rather lose church members to helping another church than see another church plant die for lack of help.

All eight of these items are simply an extension of down-home hospitality and sharing your resources and kindnesses to those with the same Biblical mission you have to reach people for the gospel. The impact that caring can do on a church planter can mean the difference between their continuing on in God’s call or discouragement knowing there were people who could help but would not. Through God’s help you can be a blessing!

 

 

 

A “Fruitless” Sunday

Fruitless Sunday

Quick Family Update: We are now working in a church plant ministry in the southwest and have been since March 2016. We hold our services in a local elementary school. We travel around 30 minutes to services on Sundays and meet in the pastor’s home on Wednesday nights. We are still living with my in-laws which is allowing our children special time to spend with their grandparents. My husband serves as the assistant pastor leading music and teaching the adult Sunday School class while also working a full-time job. We are all growing and enjoying the new experience church planting really is… this story is from a “fruitless” Sunday this summer!

The plan was to have a Sunday morning “Fun Day,” a morning Vacation Bible School type service in hopes to meet people in our community. Our little church plant had a group of eight teenagers and four adults come for a week on a missions trip. Throughout the week we went out in the blistering heat and passed out flyers in the neighborhoods surrounding the elementary school where we meet. The teens practiced special music weeks ahead before they arrived and did fundraising for their trip well in advance.

Canvassing for our upcoming event

Meeting and planning where we will put out flyers

The week before our event…

The sun was wearing us out within two hours of putting out flyers. Water bottles were in high demand. I took all five of our children out two days of four to put out flyers on doors. It was hard to get through those two smaller neighborhoods without sweaty foreheads and pink cheeks close to being overheated even though we stopped toward the end every five minutes for a drink. Our Tres (nickname for 3rd child), who is six years old and learning to read, began recognizing the “No Soliciting” signs that were dispersed along the neighborhood doors. Our baby rode along in the stroller playing with a little monkey key chain, I was constantly adjusting the shade over her to keep her feet from being sunburned. The teenagers did more leg work but came to the end of the mornings just as drained. When the afternoons came, they crashed into a heap taking naps on the couches because the heat had zapped their energy. The flyers were distributed and a few contacts had been made.

The day of our event…

Two hours before the service we were setting up around the school for the fun water games. Water balloons and other supplies were ready, ice in ice chests for snow cones, two lessons ready for younger and older children. We waited in anticipation.

Several people waited outside the school gates to welcome visitors but no one came.

No one.

Not one kid, adult, or new guest at all.

My heart had built up an anticipation for multiple visitors so when no people came it was a crash of disappointment. I won’t lie, I am human, and a woman with emotions. I was disheartened. I wanted to cry for everyone who put forth all the effort. I was not disappointed in God but surprised at our results. I tried reading the faces of the other adults as the morning service time came and our services began with just our small handful of church folk.

Were we really okay with what looked like an event of menial proportions?

The answer is yes,  we were okay. The group went on with the program with our children (our children plus the pastor’s children = 8) They still played the games planned, ate the snow cones, gave away the candy prizes and did the “Grand Prize” drawings that had been advertised in our flyers. Most importantly they went on with the Bible lesson and the youth pastor spoke about “The Greatest Gift Ever Given.” Almost all of our children have given a profession of faith except our Cuatro (4 year old). We all needed the reminder of Christ’s gift of His own precious life dying on the cross for our sins that day.

The youth group treated our “ministry kids” as if they were just as important as any visitor.  The pastor and the group did not just drop the program because guests did not arrive. It could have been easy to throw our hands up in the air and have everyone join in together for the regular church service. Our children were taught ministering to them was important because it’s true: Ministry children are important too.

Sunday night the youth group sang, “If just one more soul were to walk down the aisle, it would be worth every struggle, it would be worth every trial, a lifetime of labor would be worth it all if it rescued just one more soul.” My heart was struck that may not have been our week to rescue one more soul but if in the course of time we see someone saved, a Sunday like that day genuinely would be worth all the efforts.

After Sunday was over…

The thought occurred to me that night as I lie in bed in the twilight of sleep, there was fruit. The fruit of my womb, my children. The fruit of my pastor’s wife’s womb, her children. The fruit of some parents and youth leaders and a pastor in that neighboring state were there ministering to us. The fruit of paFruits of Laborsrents and youth leaders decades ago were there, my husband and I and our pastor and his wife. We are all fruit of labors people invested in our lives for the Lord’s sake. The Lord Himself has been the investor of our lives, nurturing our hearts all along to help us have spiritual growth and understanding. He has been watering, pruning, investing since we were all children to bring us to where we are today. We, the ministers, count as fruit although at first glance the “reward” from the labors for our current day left us seeming empty-handed. The truth was the opposite. The enemy would love for us to discount the Lord’s investment and make us feel like failures.

Church planting is beginning with a bare field and seasons of time include sowing the seed of God’s Word and letting people know you are in the community. To all the church planting families out there I say, keep planting, the Lord will give the increase. Don’t give up on reaching out in the community to all the “neighbors” out there, souls still need Christ no matter your attendance. Compel, sow with energy, pray in earnest with tears, fruit will come in its season.

To all the Ministry Mamas out there I say, even if it is only your children teach the class or run the program! When the church van or bus route is filled only with your children share the joy of the Lord with them and invest in them in a special way. Relish the moments of only watching the few babies in the nursery, laugh and have fun with them for they too need a good experience in learning to love going to church. When your ministry seems to bear no new fruit and no visitors walk through the door or souls come forward in a church service, do your job and leave the rest to God. Value those who are present, they are fruit worth loving and investing in!