13 Feb 2020

Why You Should Never Plant Alone

Nathan Camp

“Never plant alone!”

I remember hearing this at a church planting conference I attended, and my heart leaped within me. I was sitting on the precipice of starting a second church plant, wanting desperately to do it differently this time. You see, I had planted before. 

Several years earlier, I planted a church that was not really connected to any church planting organization. Yes, I had a home-sending church, who supported us and loved us, but we planted out of state, and it became easy for us to go long periods of time without really connecting. 

The truth is, as the weeks wore on, it was a lonely time. I was planting a church in a new city as a lead pastor for the first time. And while I had an amazing church planting team in the trenches with me, I did not have many church planting friends or a coach to guide me along the way. The years rolled on, and they took their toll. I knew that if I ever planted again, I wanted to do it differently. 

There’s a better way

Fast forward close to a decade from that time, and I found myself in a church planting conference that was different than anything I had been a part of before. 

Even though there were tons of people at this particular conference, it seemed like everyone knew each other. These men and women were smiling. They were happy. They were excited. They were not burned out, bitter, or stressed. 

All around the campus where the conference was taking place, people were freely introducing themselves to each other and talking about what God had put on their heart. Each time this was met with immediate excitement and a desire to swap contact information and to stay connected through the journey of planting. It seemed like no one was a stranger. Everyone was just friends you hadn’t met yet. They talked about ministry with a “we” vernacular, not a “me” mindset. They talked about church planting like it was a ‘team’ thing, not a solo act. 

Even the main speakers seemed to be best friends as they cracked jokes with one another. But even more telling was that each one was able to seemingly tell the story of others on the stage. It was clear that they have journeyed “together.” These men and women were friends. 

They told stories of how hard church planting is when you do not have a group of other church planters around you or a coach to help you through the process. I gave an inward “Amen!” as I reminisced about how I felt in the days of my first church plant. 

Until this point, I knew I was called to plant a church; however, I was still reticent to go all in. I was still guarded against the fear of feeling the sting of isolation I had once felt. But, I strongly felt that if it was possible to plant a church in the midst of a community like this, in the midst of a “tribe” of other like-minded planters, then I wanted in. I realized I didn’t have to do ministry alone. 

A short time later, we joined that church planting organization. They are called the Association of Related Churches (ARC). I had never felt such a sense of brotherhood before. 

The team at the ARC seemed to embody a desire to see the vision God has put into my heart come to pass. They offered me so many resources as I was getting started toward our plant and encouraged me not to make my own mistakes, but to learn from those who have gone through church planting before me. They gave me access to video teachings, did an assessment of my ministry, marriage, and money to make sure I was prepared for the vigors of church planting. They helped me make a plan for my first Sunday service. They introduced me to a coach who would help me through the process and even had a few people come from their headquarters in Alabama to attend our first service. I was blown away! 

This second time around was different. I did not plant alone. I planted with a tribe. 

The experience was totally different. I got calls from others in the tribe that didn’t know me, but that said they were praying for me as we started our church. They always encouraged me, even when things got tough through the first year, they never stopped cheering me on. It was the most life-giving time in my ministry life. I cannot imagine what it would have been like for us had we had not a tribe to run with. 

What’s next

Many pastors who complete the StartRIGHT Service ask us, “What should I do now?” My answer is always the same: “Find a tribe!” 

It’s the call to find the spiritual family you fit in with that will give you the kind of support you need to not just get to your launch date, but to go the long haul. Ministry is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. And if you have ever been to a marathon, you know the streets are lined with people cheering on the runners. It’s those people who help give you the strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other. And that’s really what church planting is, pursuing the finish line even when it’s hard because God and His people won’t let you stop. 

Church planter, I want to tell you what someone once told me, “Don’t do ministry alone!” 

There are plenty of tribes out there for you to find and fit into. Through my role here at StartCHRUCH, I have had the pleasure of meeting many church planting networks that are great tribes to connect with. 

Association of Related Churches was where I landed, but there are many that you can look into to see where you fit. Wonderful organizations like Acts 29, Stadia, Multiply Vineyard, CMN, NewThing, NAMB, FourSquare, and the like. These are organizations that are prepared to come alongside you and help you plant the church God has placed in your heart. 

Here’s a bit of information on each one: 

Association of Related Churches (ARC) 

ARC is an association made up of church leaders who help church planters get the support they need to plant and lead healthy, thriving churches. Church planters who partner with ARC are given a number of resources (including funding) and are provided with mentors. ARC has helped plant over 750 churches and has networks in more than eight countries. 

Learn more about ARC here:https://www.arcchurches.com/about

Acts 29

Acts 29 is an organization dedicated to planting churches. Its name comes from the Book of Acts, which has 28 chapters, thus making Acts 29 “the next chapter” when we consider the history and future of the Church. Acts 29 leaders provide support, resources, and much-needed encouragement to churches and individuals that are looking to plant churches. 

Learn more about Acts 29 here: https://www.acts29.com 

The Foursquare Church 

Foursquare provides support founded on biblical principles and flexibility for your church to impact its community. There are a number of steps to take to join Foursquare. First, there is an assessment to take that allows you to connect with your district. Foursquare also provides a training process that lasts between nine to 15 months. The organization will also partner you with a coach who will offer you wisdom and guidance. What’s great is that training and coaching are free! Foursquare also offers funding during your church planting journey. 

Learn more about Foursquare Church here: https://www.foursquare.org/get-involved/plant-a-church/ 

Multiply Vineyard 

The Vineyard supports Vineyard church plants all over the world through its church planting group, Multiply Vineyard. Their vision is for all communities in the United States to have healthy local Vineyard churches. Multiply Vineyard provides a thorough process for church planters to go through, so they understand God’s calling on their life and are best equipped for it. Their staff is committed to providing church planters with the support and coaching they need to lead healthy, thriving churches. 

Learn more about Multiply Vineyard here: https://multiplyvineyard.org  

NewThing 

NewThing helps church planters get connected in local networks of churches to provide support to new church leaders. It is also dedicated to helping church leaders get connected with other like-minded churches in order to build a support team. NewThing is all about multiplying healthy churches. Its vision is to see millions of people come to Christ through the new churches being planted. 

Learn more about NewThing: http://www.newthing.org

North American Mission Board (NAMB) 

The North American Mission Board (NAMB) helps pant Southern Baptist churches throughout North America. NAMB is committed to spreading the gospel, starting at the local level, and offers many opportunities for different types of leaders to start new ministry opportunities in their local communities. NAMB offers support for church planters to have a network of support. NAMB also provides opportunities for other people to partner with church planters. 

Learn more about NAMB here: https://www.namb.net/church-planting/

Stadia Church Planting

Stadia’s mission is to see that every child around the world has a local church. With that in mind, Stadia’s mission is to help church plants that are focused on caring or children. Stadia provides a multitude of church planter resources, or support services, including services for women. Stadia also offers a residency program. According to their website, “90% of churches planted by Stadia are still engaged in their mission on their fifth birthday and see 67% percent greater attendance at year four than other churches.”

Learn more about Stadia Church Planting here: https://stadiachurchplanting.org/plant/

These are just a few of the many church planting organizations out there! I want to encourage you to check out their sites, give them a call, ask questions, and let God lead you to the place where you are called to connect. Because the good news is, you can see the vision that’s in your heart come to pass, and the best way to see that happen is never to do ministry alone. 

May God bless you in your church planting journey.

Please feel free to comment. We always appreciate good dialogue. However, we do moderate each comment to ensure that it is on topic and not derogatory to other participants. We ask that you keep your comments brief and pertinent to the topic so that others may benefit.

Blessings,
Raul Rivera


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