PLANTING OF LOCAL CHURCHES

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Once a pastoral candidate has been trained and deemed fit to pastor, the missionary and other leaders in the area need to help him establish a church, usually in an area where a large number of correspondence course students are located.

The initial thing to do is pray for the new church. A proper location can be found through prayer, leaders and finances can be brought about through prayer. The church should be bathed in prayer before, during and after its opening. As the time grows near for the opening, prayer meetings should be planned. Read the chapter on prayer on methods of setting up 24 hour prayer chains, etc. Remember, no church will be started without prayer. If all of the following things are done, but prayer is left out, no lasting work for God will be started.

Missionaries and national pastors who know the "lay of the land" should help the new pastor in securing a building in a good location. A building that is deep in a neighborhood or off the main road will only be seen by a minority. It is best to locate on a main road and surrounded by several neighborhoods. That way more people will be aware of its existence.

Established churches can help with painting, renovation, and supplying needed items (chairs, pulpit, PA system, sign, Bibles, tracts, baptistry, etc.) so the new church starts without a financial burden. As God leads, a missionary or established church could help with rent, utilities, operating expenses and pastorís salary until the church offerings are sufficient. In Thailand, we used a system where yearly (or as deemed necessary) outside support was gradually reduced until the new local church became self-supporting.

If possible, have some members from an established church attend for the first few months. This will help the new church not look "empty" and also will provide ushers, altar workers, an audience and people to encourage the new pastor.

Advertising should be done to make people in the area aware that a new church is opening. This could be done by visitation, signs, newspaper and/or radio ads, etc. It would be helpful to have members from an established church make an initial visitation effort, handing out flyers and giving an extra "push" for the opening day. Special music and speaker might be announced, as well as dinner on the grounds after the service. (All of this is "budget" permitting, of course, but the goal is to make as many people as possible aware of the churchís existence and leave a good impression in their minds for future follow-up.) Of course, each one that visits on opening day should receive a pastor visit thanking them for attending and this would give him an opportunity to explain the gospel to them.

The sending church should keep loose reins on the new church, allowing them to develop as the Lord leads. When they are ready, the new church (mission) should pass a constitution and by-laws (once there is a solid core of people who have grown sufficiently in the Lord to be dedicated to the work of the Lord and ready to take on the responsibility of church membership).

It needs to be realized that nothing comes easy, and church planting is no exception. A good start helps and can create a positive atmosphere in the area. After opening day, the pastor needs to be faithful in visitation, teaching and preaching. Once the church is established, they can continue growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, winning souls, baptizing, and training new converts. One day they too will become a sending church, and the cycle will continue.

 


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