Each Sunday, we’d haul baby beds, equipment and chairs to our temporary meeting place. We were church planters before church planting was “cool!” Though it was hard work, the results were awesome. Flash forward to present day. Our son-in-law and daughter serve as church planting pastor and worship leader for a new church. Each Sunday, they load a trailer and haul all kinds of equipment to their downtown Indianapolis meeting site. America’s still a great mission field.
You are already involved in church planting. A portion of your tithe to your Southern Baptist church helps plant SBC churches through the Cooperative Program. Your annual Annie Armstrong offering helps plant churches. Many churches also partner with an individual church plant across the U.S. and Canada (see sendme.namb/net).
But did you know that you—as an individual or small group—can personally encourage a church planter? If your church is planting a church, cheer for that planter, or study namb.net to find a planter. Your small encouragements can make a big difference, and it’s simpler than you might imagine! Try some of these fresh ideas:
Pay attention. Show interest and joy in what God’s doing. Put a photo of the planter’s family in your meeting room as a prayer reminder. Study their website, blog, Facebook or newsletters. Celebrate victories and milestones. Visit the church, if possible.
Share your own talents, contacts, professional abilities, time and spiritual gifts. What unique help could you or your group provide? Could you create their website or help with online surveys? Help find a building site? Staff their Vacation Bible School or sports outreach? Do neighborhood events, building projects, marketing? Offer your expertise.
Encourage the planter and his wife. For example, a women’s group could send encouragement notes to the planter’s wife. Pray for her. Mail her a book, with personal notes written inside. Surprise her with an online birthday party, complete with balloons and a delivered gift.
Share monetarily. Set a class goal to give for this month’s Annie Armstrong mission offering for North American missions. God may prompt you individually to give additional gifts for specific needs of your church plant.
Be a friend. Planters often carry the huge weight (and privilege) of a church loaded with new Christians. Hmm…your class probably has many longtime Christians! If the planter likes the idea, challenge class members to connect with one member of the church for encouragement. If you go there on a mission trip or follow the church’s Facebook page to develop a connection. The pastor may assign you to a new Christian or person who serves in a similar ministry as you.
Plan a shower. Discover a need—such as audio equipment, portable signs, Bibles—and work with the planter to host a shower to meet that need. If miles separate you, plan an online shower using FaceTime or Skype. When we were church planters, our sponsor church planned a nursery shower, providing needed toys and furniture. It was a turning point for reaching young families.
Decades later, that church we helped plant still stands as an evangelistic, missional, multiplying church. That recent church plant in Indy that I mentioned has baptized forty adults and, once again, God is building a great church. Many more SBC church plants are desperately needed in America’s most unreached cities. Our North American Mission Board’s goal is to plant 1200 new churches in the U.S. and Canada this year.
You can make a difference. Pray for the Lord of the harvest to use you to encourage church planters.
Diana Davis www.dianadavis.org Diana’s newest book, Across the Street and Around the World, cowritten with her daughter, Autumn Wall, will be released by New Hope Publishers this fall.