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  • Baptist Beacon

5 Questions for Churches Helping Other Churches



As my good friend Mark Hallock says: “We can’t do this alone, which is why a replanting movement must be made up of churches, pastors and denominational leaders who practice humble, radical cooperation.”


Churches help renew, revitalize and replant other churches by sending people and resources and sharing expertise. Increasingly we are seeing more formal and official partnerships like fostering, adoption and “campusing,” which are aiding churches to experience new seasons of vitality and growth.


Even if you are not ready for a formal step, a congregation of any size can find opportunities to help a sister congregation.


Before jumping in, answer these five questions:


1. Have you checked your motives? 


This step may seem less than necessary and unimportant but it is one of the most important first steps. I have seen partnership conversations breakdown because motives aren’t clearly evaluated. Are you engaging to help or rescue? Do you want to extend your church’s name or brand more widely? If you want to help a sister church out of a genuine desire to enable kingdom advance (read God’s Kingdom, not your church’s kingdom and influence), then you’re likely ready to take a step toward partnership.


2. What types of partnership are you offering?


I love baseball, and one of the truisms is that every pitcher has to know his pitch. He can’t throw everything; he likely specializes in one or two. Do you know what kind of partnership God has equipped and called your church to provide? Some of the best partnerships are short term: church fostering, coaching and resourcing.  These are great ways to “test” out partnership before jumping into more permanent models like adoption and campusing.


3. Are you ready to go slow?


Declining and struggling churches often are fearful. They know they need to change but fear the potential impact any change could have on the few remaining attenders and members. This means they’ll likely have a zillion questions that they will need answered more than once. They’ll want time to think and pray, rethink and pray again, which means helping churches have to hold loosely to timelines. Patience is key here, and slow ends up being faster than you think.


4. Do you need the credit?


The simple reality is this: When a church is renewed, revitalized or replanted, the one who deserves all the credit is God. Sure, you may have been invited to play a part in the work of renewal, but you didn’t renew a cold and callus heart. God did that. You didn’t cause someone to cross the line between spiritual death and life. God did that. You didn’t breakdown preferences, prejudices and traditions. God did that. If you’re ready to give all glory to God, you might be ready to help a struggling or declining church.


5. Can you walk away?


On average, it seems that 3 out of 10 churches that engage in some sort of conversation or renewal process actually end up experiencing renewal. That’s not great, but it’s also not bad. Sometimes a church has to make several runs at renewal before finally hitting the breakthrough point. If you aren’t ready to engage and experience resistance, pushback and rejection – if you’re not read to disengage and walk away and allow a church to season and warm to the Gospel and change – you might not be fully ready to help.


 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bob Bickford is a Replant Pastor in suburban St. Louis, serves as the Associate Director of Replant for the North American Mission Board and is the co-author of Am I a Replanter, Pathways to Partnership and the Associational Replanting Guide. Follow Bob on twitter @bobick.




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