When it comes to spreading the word of God and extending His love, one of the most exciting initiatives that I can think of is church planting. Church planting is exactly what it sounds like, and it occurs when an established church essentially uses its resources to set up a church in an area that needs it. Though the term itself is new, there is some evidence to show that this practice has been going on since the start of Christianity, when the Christian faith spread from Judea to distant Samaria.
Though Christianity is often spread to the persecution of Christians as they needed to flee from place to place, we should not underestimate the effect of a planned ministry. In distant times, church planting was something that actually went forth into the wilderness, but today, we find that it has more in common with opening a franchise, an analogy that I think is both correct and amusing.
Perhaps the most common method of church planting is known as parachute church planting. In this model, an established church decides that it would like to extend into an area that it feels requires an Anglican presence. In doing so, the mother church in question may reach out to the local dioceses in its proposed location to ensure that there is no conflict with putting a church there. Though this was once a hot point of contention among Anglican congregations, the recent years have seen a relaxing of such territorial disputes.
Depending on the situation, the mother church provides the planted church with resources as the new church begins to thrive. Depending on the kind of situation that is being encountered, this support may be in the form of church leader contributions or it might involve monetary support until the church has its owns funds established.
One of the most impressive feats with regards to church planting is the model known as pioneer church planting. In this model, one man strikes out on his own or nearly so to set up an Anglican church. Despite the name, this does not mean that he is necessarily going into the wilderness. He may simply be fulfilling a need that he sees in his own community, or he may be going to an adjoining town. However, this is not to say that people do not venture out into the world to minister in this fashion. Pioneer church planting is a practice that hearkens back to the very roots of apostolic Christianity, and the process of building a church from scratch is described as a very spiritual one.
Many people think about the reality of church planting, and they wonder if it is for them. The answer is not something that anyone can tell to you, but I will say that it is not something for the casual lay person. The man who seeks to plant a church should be someone who is more than just unshakable in his faith. He must also have vision, and he should have a keen organizer’s mind. Some were born to lead and others were born to follow; there is no shame in this, and there is no shame in playing to your strengths, either!
When you think of church planting, there are many people who have many different views. Some people are called to this kind of ministry while others would happily provide some support. Consider your role in what this type of ministry might be like!Photo accredited to: bertknot via flickr