Local Church Planting (Part 1)
Over the last few weeks, we have begun to share a lot about our vision to plant new churches here in the DC area. You may also be aware that the vestry has commissioned the Church Plant Steering Team (CPST) to help guide us in this process. Here is a little bit of information about the Church Plant Steering Team:
Who is on the Church Plant Steering Team (CPST)?
The team is composed of 7 members: Nathan Dickerson (staff), Mike Dodson (vestry), Cindy Darnell, John Foote, Leigh McAfee, Andy Neal, & Megan Westmoreland.
What is the Mission of the CPST?
Our mission is to provide guidance to Restoration as we consider how to implement our vision to plant other new churches in the DC area.
Why plant new churches?
As the CPST has started to discuss this idea of church planting, we have wrestled with some pretty common objections to church planting. For example:
- “Is it really necessary?” – i.e. It seems like we still have lots of space in the sanctuary for people, and we are already doing lots of great outreach.
- “But I like Restoration the way it is right now.” – i.e. We are doing really well as a church, so why would we want to mess with a good thing?
- “What if we fail?” – i.e. Lots of church plants do NOT succeed, so why would we want to spend our resources and time on something that might not work out?
- “Aren’t we already busy enough?” – i.e. Many people at Restoration already feel maxed out, so won’t this just push them over the edge?
- “It seems like there are already lots of good churches in the DC area” – i.e. Do we really need any more churches?
These are all legitimate questions & concerns, but as a team, we also sensed that there are several good reasons why we should invest significant time and resources into planting new churches.
Here are three compelling reasons why we should get involved with planting new churches:
- A Spiritual Reason
We are at a critical moment in the life of our congregation. Over the last 7 years, our church has grown, and matured, and moved into our beautiful new facility. But now, we also face the temptation to get “comfortable”, and to imagine that we have “arrived”.
So, how do we fight this temptation? We resist it by continuing to seek out new challenges & opportunities. This is actually really good for our souls – both collectively & individually. Because new challenges open us up to the reality that we need God to show up for this to work. We can’t do them on our own. So, instead of focusing inward and trying to protect what we already have, what we need to do is to look outward, and trust God by taking risks.
- A Practical Reason
There is also a really practical reason to plant new churches. Even though we just built this new building, we are already beginning to run out of space, particularly with our children and youth ministry. This is obviously a great “problem” to have as a church. But if we want to continue to grow and minister to the needs of others, we need to think strategically and wisely about how to do this well. And one key way to address these logistical challenges is by planting new churches.
Moreover, by choosing to plant new churches, we also enable new leaders to emerge and utilize their spiritual gifts. This doesn’t always happen in a larger congregation, where people tend to assume that others will bear the load of leadership. Planting new churches creates lots of opportunities for new leaders to grow and express their gifts – not only in the new congregations, but also in the sending church as well. We want to multiply new leaders by multiplying new congregations.
- A Biblical Reason
Yet, perhaps the most compelling reason to plant new churches is simply a biblical one: this is what Jesus commands us to do as his disciples. In Matthew 9:35-38, Jesus looks out at the crowds of people who surrounded him in Jerusalem. And the Scripture tells us that Jesus was “filled with compassion” as he saw “sheep without a shepherd”. Then he asks his disciples to pray because “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few”.
This passage raises a key question for us as a church: Do we have that same compassion, that same vision for people here in the DC area? Do we recognize that many people desperately need a church home (just like Restoration) where they too can grow spiritually and encounter the living Christ?
Our calling as Christians is not merely to think about ourselves and our families & friends, but also to consider the spiritual needs of others. That is why we want to plant new churches here in the DC area.
Some people might wonder, “But aren’t there already lots of churches here in DC?” And the answer is, “Yes, there are lots of good churches.” But we have to recognize that even if every one of those churches was filled to capacity, we could not even begin to keep up with the quickly growing population of our metro area. Therefore, we want to see good churches continue to grow AND we also need to be planting brand new churches as well.
~ Nathan Dickerson
Next time – Our proposed strategy for planting churches? (Part 2)