Frequently Asked Church Planting Questions
A church planter is a follower of Christ whom God has called to start a new church. The person has a burden for people around him and their spiritual condition. The church planter is actively engaged in ministering within his local context, sharing the gospel and discipling those who come to Christ. Out of making disciples a new group will develop that might ultimately desire to covenant together as a new church. The SBTC will work with, train, coach and consult with anyone called to start new groups. Qualifying funding support is limited to those men who are called to start and pastor the new church.
Limitation - If the prospective planter is or has been a member or staff of an SBTC affiliated church within the area where he desires to start the new church, to receive SBTC resource support, he must 1)obtain a formal statement of good standing from the church where he was a member or staff or 2)start the new church at least 10 miles away from his former church.
WHY? It is of great advantage and a blessing for a church to send out its members and staff to the mission field. Many churches have been greatly blessed by raising up, calling out and sending planters to start works even blocks away from itself. This allows the sending church to be able to continue fellowship with, ministry with and easily resource its "child" during its formative years. The SBTC wholeheartedly encourages this kind of church reproduction.
On the negative side, unfortunately, members and staff who go out to plant nearby without the blessing or sending of their church usually, consciously or unconsciously, bring division and turmoil to the planter's former church because the new plant will draw the friends and family of the planter from the former church. Planters must consider this ethical and moral issue when praying about where God would lead them to plant the new church. The SBTC does all it can to discourage this and thus, will not support plants in these cases. A church split is not a church plant.
New churches may start out of different circumstances. A church split, a church relocation, a re-organization, a move from another denomination, a splinter group leaving a church – all these situations certainly lead to “new” churches being formed. Without a doubt, many of these churches grow into strong, evangelistic churches. However, because of the SBTC’s church planting philosophy, and because we must be wise stewards of God’s resources, in order to be considered for funding from the SBTC, we define a new church plant as follows:
- It is led by a church planter who has participated in the church planting process of sponsorship, assessment, and training.
- It is focusing on reaching a clearly defined and previously unreached people group, population segment, or geographical community. That is, it is intentionally focused on penetrating lostness, not competing for existing Christians.
- Therefore, it is committed to growing primarily by conversion growth, not transfer growth Although it may start with a committed core of Christians, it does not start as a church for those Christians, but as a church for those to be reached.
- It is committed to multiplication. That is, the church does not see its own growth as the end; rather, it sees multiplication of disciples and churches to expand the kingdom of God as its reason for being.
- Church planting is not a way to relocate an existing congregation.
- Church planting should not grow out of a congregational split or splinter.
- Church planting is not an existing church reverting to “mission status” or re-organizing as a church plant.
What about a “re-plant” in an existing building? Church planting is not dependent on, driven by, or defined by a church building. There could be situations where there is a new planter, a new strategy, a new focus group, and a new name – everything new – but meeting in an existing building. That is a legitimate church plant. However, there must be a clear focus and strategy distinction between the church that met previously in the building and the new plant.
What is SBTC’s vision and strategy for church planting?
The most basic New Testament definition is that a church is a congregation of baptized believers, which gathers on a regular basis for worship, discipleship, witness, ministry, and fellowship, is led by a called pastor, lay or ordained, and which regularly performs the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Under this definition, a church may meet in a home, or a rented or borrowed space, on Sunday or at other times. The size, style, or programs of a church are irrelevant to the definition.
Yes. The SBTC expects all of its funded new churches to be affiliated and giving through the Cooperative Program before funding can commence. Affiliation of the church plant must be unique to SBTC. New “units” – Bible studies, cultivation small groups, ministries, etc – that are started as part of a multi-housing or house church strategy are NOT expected to affiliate unless and until their intention is to be known as a church and intend to move to autonomy and self-sufficiency. Often, these “simple” churches are units of one larger church that is affiliated (for example, ABC Church may be a multi-housing network – one church that meets in small groups in numerous places at numerous times).