Baptist Church Planting

NickImage

The United States may be the most densely churched nation on earth, but it still needs the work of church planters. Urban sprawl results in new communities or the rapid swelling of villages into cities. Believers are among those who move to these freshly-constructed suburbs, but they often find few churches there. Furthermore, the established churches in many communities have denied the faith and are little better than gatherings of heretics. Even if they retain some echo of the gospel, it is mixed with the proclamation of apostasy. Such communities need churches that proclaim, not only the gospel, but the whole counsel of God in its integrity. Just as importantly, the churches in many communities are not fully or rightly ordered, even when they do proclaim the gospel. The purpose of a church is not merely to win people to salvation in Jesus Christ, but to bring them to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, and to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. This cannot be done where the faith and practice of the church is out of order with the New Testament.

In other words, every community ought to have at least one gospel-preaching Baptist church. Some communities are large enough to need more than one, and some need several. Until that goal has been achieved, the work of church planting has not been completed. The United States needs more church planters.

This being the case, every Baptist church ought to support church planting ministries in America. A generation ago, we used to call these church planters “home missionaries,” and they were considered to be as vital to the work of global missions as the people who were sent to the far reaches of the globe. Not uncommonly, churches would divide their missionary support evenly between foreign missions and home missions.

Today a church planter in the United States finds that churches will not supply the support that he needs. Many church planters are forced into bi-vocational ministry, working extra jobs in order to support their families while they try to establish New Testament congregations. They could usually multiply their effectiveness if they were financially able to devote themselves to their ministry of reaching souls, discipling young believers, and organizing congregations.

The same is true of the agencies that coordinate church planters. Some of these (like Baptist Mid Missions) are agencies that coordinate both foreign and home missionaries. Others (like Continental Baptist Missions and Baptist Church Planters) devote themselves exclusively to church planting within the United States. Churches would rather support missionaries than agencies, but the fact is that the work of the missionaries would be hindered if the agency were not there to assist them. Part of supporting missions includes supporting the agencies.

Of course, any local church is free to coordinate its own missionaries, and some do. This is easiest when the church is sending out members to plant a church in a nearby community—an endeavor in which many Baptist churches would do well to engage. Even then, however, agencies can provide significant advice and assistance, often without any charge to the church. Such agencies are worthy of help.

This week I have been meeting with the missionaries of Baptist Church Planters. Their agency was organized by church planters who wanted to help one another. It was formed under the leadership of pastors with the blessing of local churches. Its board still consists primarily of pastors and missionary church planters. It exists to do only one thing, namely, to plant churches.

Baptist Church Planters is helping missionaries in churches across the United States. Some of these works occupy large cities. Some are in small towns. A growing number minister in minority communities. At least one is a church that ministers mainly to the deaf.

Many missionaries come to Baptist Church Planters after years of pastoral experience. Others come directly out of college or seminary. The agency works to pair veteran missionaries with less-experienced church planters. These teams work together to establish new congregations (or, occasionally, to reclaim declining congregations) for poorly-churched communities. These “Barnabas and Saul” relationships couple the energies of youth with the wisdom of experience.

The church planting teams may also include “Tentmakers.” These are non-ministers whose jobs allow them to relocate to assist a church planting team. Tentmakers provide a core of leadership among the members of a new congregation. Their insight and activity provides vital help for any church plant.

New church planting is an exciting ministry. Church planters are creating something new. They have the opportunity to shape an embryonic congregation in ways that will help and bless it for many years to come. Church planting is work, to be sure—hard work. But the rewards correspond to the labor.

Most church planters are pretty ordinary people in most respects. But they are universally exceptional in one way. They are hard workers who know how to make the most of meager resources. They pour themselves into their labor, usually with great personal sacrifice. Their only earthly reward is that in community after community, they manage to bring new churches into existence.

Established churches need to prioritize the ministry of home missions. How? Some can plant churches in nearby communities. All can support church planters. Each should give regular support to church planting agencies. In some cases, churches should be alert for potential church planters within their own membership—if not as team leaders, perhaps as Tentmakers who would be willing to move in order to become part of a church planting team. The work of church planting is not yet complete.

Lo! What an Entertaining Sight
Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

Lo! what an entertaining sight
Are brethren that agree,
Brethren, whose cheerful hearts unite
In bands of piety!

When streams of love from Christ the spring
Descend to every soul,
And heavenly peace, with balmy wing,
Shades and bedews the whole;

‘Tis like the oil divinely sweet,
On Aaron’s reverend head,
The trickling drops perfum’d his feet,
And o’er his garments spread.

‘Tis pleasant as the morning dews
That fall on Zion’s hill,
Where God his mildest glory shews,
And makes his grace distil.

[node:bio/kevin-t-bauder body]

2993 reads

There are 6 Comments

Barry L.'s picture

This country needs a large dose of church planting, I agree whole hearted; however, I think there needs to be more direction, or maybe analysis would be a better word, as to where the needs are the greatest in this country. I think this is where the mission board would be helpful. Mission boards do a great job of gathering information showing where the needs are overseas and guiding young men to those fields. I think, when it comes to home missions, I see the young church planter choose the location of "his calling" and the sending church will support him because he is beloved and the mission board will go along because they are associated with that church through other supported missionaries. To me, there is not as much direction given by the boards to young people with regards to home missions as with foreign missions. Also, a board can help with the definition of a "community". Is it by geography? density? church size? If you drive 15 minutes and there is already a fundamental believing church, is that outside your community?

 

In Charlotte  I can think of 7 new fundamental Baptist church plants that are going on. There are probably more I just don't know about. Two of them are very close to each other and also very close to another church planted 15 years ago. I know you can never have too many churches, but my guess is that other areas of the country have more of a need. But even if a young church planter wanted to go to a needy place, has some study defined where those areas would be?

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

The problem, Barry, is that other parts of the country are much harder to plant and support is always hard to come by. 

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

rickdob's picture

#next_pages_container { width: 5px; hight: 5px; position: absolute; top: -100px; left: -100px; z-index: 2147483647 !important; }
Thanks for this article! We have a group of families in the beginning stages of a church plant in Allentown, PA (Allentown Bible Church). Here is the link to a great study that shows needy areas that are ripe for church planting. We consulted that resource and many others before making the decision to go. I hope that resource can be a help to any pastors on this forum debating being involved in church planting stateside.

One thought - need is based on a lot of factors, and I don't believe one should just look at good "Baptist" churches in the area to see if there is a need. I personally talked to 10 pastors in the area we went to before I even considered planting a church there, and they went by a whole lot of different labels, but I questioned them to see what their beliefs were and how their churches were functioning within the community. Ultimately, I believed two of them were similar to us, and one of the two strongly encouraged us to come and plant. The other one said their church was drawing mostly from at least 5 miles away from their church (there are 35,000 people within a 5-mile radius) so we knew we could concentrate close to home. Labels can be a help, but just because there is a label it does not mean each individual church follows the stereotype for that label.

 

Steve Davis's picture

I appreciate Kevin's encouragement for church planting. Instead of saying "every community ought to have at least one gospel-preaching Baptist church" perhaps we might begin with "gospel preaching" whether Baptist or not. I would be glad to see every community or neighborhood in Philadelphia with a Baptist church but we might start with a more reachable goal.

Sadly I have yet to see sufficient interest from Baptist churches to invest in any large-scale church planting in our area. I don't know of any independent Baptist churches involved in church planting in Philadelphia. There may be some of which I am unaware. If so please let me know. So for all you Baptists out there - come to Philadelphia and plant churches among its 1.5 million souls. There is neighborhood after neighborhood without gospel-preaching churches of any kind.

Joel Tetreau's picture

God doesn't care what the church is called - as long as the assembly follows the Scriptures, preaches the Gospel, submits to Jesus, loves one another and reaches out to the lost. As long as a church-plant is thus ordered - Heaven will rejoice no matter what's on the door - Baptist, Bible, Community Church......even "Fellowship" ...... or "Chapel" ....... or whatever.

Straight Ahead!

jt

ps - oh yeah......Kevin.....nice article! Smile

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

Rob Fall's picture

How many folks do you know that would be supportive of a church plant in San Francisco?  ~850,000 with plenty of room for more good churches.  But, the support needed costs twice to three times the amount in other areas.  How many would be supportive of a young single, couple or family relocating to The City to serve in and support the existing churches?  How many here when folks in the two questions above would say to the church planter or supporter, "What are you out of your mind!  God would lead you to such a spiritually dangerous place. "

Mind you I agree, San Francisco is full of evangelistic pagans proudly wallowing in their gross sins.

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

The problem, Barry, is that other parts of the country are much harder to plant and support is always hard to come by. 

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Help keep SI’s server humming. A few bucks makes a difference.