Tag Archives: Church Planting

Starting a Church is like Raising a Baby

Starting a new church in a community is not an easy task at all.  It takes time and devotion.  There will be joy as well as anguish.  As it grows and is able to stand on it’s own two feet, it will take on a mind of it’s own; it will strive for independence, not from God, but from those who helped start it.  This is a good sign, for then, and only then, could you say, “It is established.”  But until that time, there is much to pay attention to, and much to do.

Babies are funny creatures.  They are so innocent and helpless.  They need to be taught everything they are going to learn except crying.  Boy, do babies know how to cry!  The tiniest of human beings can sure make a loud sound when they want or need something.  Then we must find out what it is that they need and take care of it.  Sometimes it is changing a diaper, other times it is feeding.  There are even times when they are sick and we have to figure out what to do.  That is the problem—figuring out what the baby needs.  This is because they can’t talk to us and say, “Hey Mom, you’re a little tardy with the food this morning.  Don’t you know that I am supposed to be fed on my schedule and not yours?”  They just say, “WAHAAAHHHHH!” and we jump into action.  In fact, the whole house jumps into action, and we quickly learn that the whole house revolves around the baby.

Babies are expensive.  They need “baby things.”  You can’t just give a baby an old stick from the back yard and expect them to “make believe” they have a doll or something.  You have to get them “baby dollies,” and they don’t come cheap.  They have to be made for the safety and development of the baby.  Not only that, you have to get a whole new assortment of furniture, just for the baby.  There are: cribs, changing tables, hampers, high chairs, rockers, and a bunch of other little things.  There are doctor visits too.  Babies need to keep going to the doctor to check their development.  All of this to say, if you love your baby, you will get as many things you can to help the baby grow.  Why?  Because you love the baby and want it to grow up.

Now you know that you must feed a baby.  If you don’t feed the baby, and ignore its cries, things for the baby don’t just stay the same—they get worse.  If you don’t feed the baby, the baby doesn’t just stay in that level or growth and development until you resume feeding again.  The baby begins to regress.  It begins to deteriorate.  If you took a 6 month old child and stuck them in a closet somewhere for a few years and then pulled them out, you wouldn’t have a healthy 6 month old baby to resume feeding and care for.  That baby would have regressed until it died.  This is a frightful thought to say the least.  The point is, you must keep maintaining the child for it to develop.  It needs a carefully managed diet.  It needs lessons in things like walking, holding spoons, sitting up and many more things.  If you stop the lessons, the baby begins to lose the things it has learned and does not develop.  In fact it doesn’t just stay idle, it regresses.  Babies must be cared for if they are to keep developing!  If you don’t care for it, then it begins shrinking and getting weak.

Starting a new church is much like having a baby and raising it up.  It does not just grow on its own.  The first part of its growth is like the womb phase.  It must be comforted in the warmth and love of its mommy’s tummy.  There it knows it is protected and cared for.  It grows in love, nurture and admonition.  It hasn’t a care in the world except growing to its birth.  It is totally dependent on its mother.

New church starts too are dependent on their mothers—that is their mother churches.  The mother church is not to be confused with the Catholic Church which is often referred to as “the mother church.”  It is a reference to the church that sends out the preacher or missionary for the purpose of starting a church in another place.  The church that sends out the missionary is like: “the Mother Church.”  Another reference to it in this day and age is: “the Sending Church.”  Without a mother church, there is no “womb phase” for the starting church.  There can be no church if there is no “womb phase.”  This is the phase where the sending church helps the baby church get started.  This usually happens by training up a preacher to this cause.  Then sending some people from the mother church to go and help canvass neighborhoods to get a small group to form the church.  The sending church typically supports the pastor financially in some way and helps provide necessary equipment like, pews, pulpits, etc. for the church to get started.  This is the womb phase.  It is a very delicate phase for a new church and it is important for them to know that they are safely snug in their mommy’s tummy; protected and cared for.  Without this phase, it is nearly impossible for any new church to be born, for it can be compared with having a premature baby.  When babies come pre-mature, it is a very delicate and critical time, because they can easily die.  So it is with a new church start.

Once a church is born, it is still not healthy enough to walk on its own.  It still needs help learning how to walk, hold its spoons, bottles, etc.  It only learns this from watching others, and that is almost always its mommy.  Again, this is where the sending church is crucial.  As the devil would like for children to remain undeveloped, so would he like new churches to remain that way.  Someone needs to gently guide, comfort and encourage the baby in its growth.  So is it with a new church.

As the sending church is crucial in this roll, so do the members of the church plant have responsibility. Their responsibility is to respond to and learn the lessons being taught it.  That is, if they are to remain safe from the devil’s attacks.  The members of the church plant have the difficult job of learning and growing.  This cannot be done if they refuse to do the things necessary to grow.  If they don’t try to develop, they never will.  Just like the baby who begins growing finds it new and difficult to learn crucial lessons like crawling and then walking, the church has the same difficulty.  Prior to this, mommy is doing everything for the baby, but now she is beginning to make the baby stand up, or crawl.  The mother church begins this long arduous weaning process.  As this happens, more and more of the members have to pitch in and work.  If they do not, the church will fail.  The members cannot go on in their “comfort zone” forever.  They must begin working, if they truly want a church.

There are times when babies need their diapers changed and need to be cleaned up.  It is the same way with the church.  When the baby gets dirty, all it can do at first is to just yell and cry.  Amazingly, that seems to be the same way it goes in new churches.  People seem to just scream and cry about the dirty condition of the church, but no one does anything about it.  All they want is the loving touch of mommy to take away the problem for them, but guess what; they eventually have to learn to use the potty just like the big kids do.  If members of a church plant are ever to develop to an established church, they will need to learn how to deal with their own dirty diapers; they will need to learn how to go to the potty.  This equates to growing as a Christian.  It means that they become proactive in HELPING each other and not tearing each other down.  It takes a loving, kind and patient heart to work with a baby until it learns how to use the potty.  Church members should be the same way to each other.

What does it take to make a church?

 

There are several things that it takes to make a church, but they can be divided into three basic things:

  • People who want to form a church.
  • A pastor who will lead the church.
  • A place to meet.

The most important of the three are people who have a heart to make a church and a pastor.  Otherwise, what you have is not more than a large Bible Study group.  There are many “bible study” groups throught the country that are doing little for the Lord Jesus Christ.  This happens because it takes special people with extreme dedication to stay in such an arrangement, and there are not many of these type of people.  They stay for only so long, but when they are called upon to do something to help, they are looking for the exit.  This happens often because “bible study” groups are typically small and unfunded.  If you examine this situation objectively, you will find that there is a group of people who are happy to “take” anything they can get, but who resist having to do any “giving.”  Anyone who has been a Christian for some time knows that this theology run’s against the grain of Bible Believing Christianity, whose leader and founder did the ultimate in giving.  Therefore, it takes dedicated people to stay in a Bible Study group and they cannot remain in such a situation for long before they want to either: form themselves into a church or leave and find an already formed church.  If they leave, then the group dissolves rather quickly.  If they stay, then a church is born.  But to have a church, there needs to be more than an idea or commitment to make it happen.  You need a pastor.

Generally speaking a pastor puts a face upon the church.  He is a point of contact for all business related to the church.  This is in addition to the task of preaching and teaching the families who ask him to come lead them.  So, like the school teachers of the early American settlers day, he is given the authority to do so, in exchange for the families of the church supporting him financially.  In the early pioneer days, farmers had to work hard to keep sustaining their families.  They didn’t have the time or the means whereby to educate their children.  But, they knew that an education was valuable and they wanted it for their children.  So, they would come together as a community and hire a teacher to teach their children in exchange for some form of compensation.  It was like this for the communities and the pastors as well. The difference being that the pastor addressed the spiritual education and well being of not only the children, but the entire family as well.  Today’s bible believing churches are not so much different, even though times have well changed and things have become more modern in the way of doing things.  All of this to say, usually when a pastor is called, money comes into the picture.  Weekly collection of money begin to take place.  Therefore, somebody has to manage this as well, and who has time for that?  Usually this job is deligated to the pastor.

When money comes into the picture, rules need to be established in order to protect the investment of the church.  So, churches form a constitution containing laws and by-laws.  They establish all of the belief’s and boundries of the churches charter.  All of this comes about because the “bible study” group has brought a pastor now into the picture.  The Bible Study group has now become a church.  There is no doubt about it; the need for, and calling of a pastor brings the bible study group into the realm of being a church.  But, this is not where it ends.

A church also needs a place to meet.  True, a church can be a church in “name only” without any place to meet.  But, it will not last long as a church on paper.  It needs a place for the general public to come and participate in the churches activities.  Yes, in the Bible you read of “house churches,” but you have to realize that was a different time and place.  They were meeting secretly for fear of the Jews and worshippers of other god’s.  When I lived in China, our church was a “secret church.”  We met in parks, the woods, the jungle, by the seaside, and in several different houses as well.  Seldom did we get the entire church together at one time. On a typical day, I would first go to one house and preach to several there.  Then I would go to another house, and so forth until I met with the entire church.  This way, everyone was able to be ministered to.  It took a lot of work on my part, but was necessary for the safety of the brethren.

It is not that way in the USA.  We can still meed openly without fear of reprisal.  So, when you read in the Bible about house churches, you would do well to remember the situation the church was in during that time.  Churches need a place to meet.  If they do not have one, then it becomes difficult to hold the church together, and even grow the church as well.  People need to know the church is there.

Still, through all of this, there is always the need for dedicated people who are willing to go through the pain necessary to “birth” a new church.  It is not the typical church experience as one would have if they went to an “already established” church.  They have to work harder, be nicer, give more, evangelize much, and above all: PRAY.

We are fortunate here at GraceBaptistChurch.  We have a dedicated group of Christians who are willing to shoulder the burden to carry the church through the entire delivery process.  One day, we will see the fruits of our labor realized.  Right now, we have the people; we have the pastor; we have a place to meet, but we do not have our own place where we can invoke typical church activities to help families grow in the Lord.  We are ever so thankful for the Grange, but we only rent the hall for Sunday’s.  We have no other place to conduct business for any other day of the week.  It is difficult to find Grace Baptist, and then, when people do drive up, they think, “is this the church?” The Grange does not look like a church on the outside.

We need to pray for our own place. We need to ask God to provide for us a place to “anchor” GraceBaptistChurch.  Not only that, we need to give to the building fund.  Surely, people of the church could give ONE DOLLAR over and above their usual tithe for the future of the church.  If everyone just gave ONE DOLLAR a week, that would only be FOUR Dollars a month.  That can’t be too hard on anyone’s pocket book.  Friends, if you added all of that up, together it would be a significant figure.  God’s answer to our prayer for help may be, “I already helped you.  I gave the people the funds necessary.  If they don’t put it in the building fund, then it’s not my fault.”  If the church is going to be worth something to us; if it is going to have value, then we need to invest in it.  One day, we too can have our own building.

 Pastor Coale