Calling. Residency. Planting. Reaching. Launching. All these words are used often in the church planting world, but they may seem weird if you aren’t part of that realm. My goal in the next few hundred words is to simplify the idea of church planting for all of us. In general terms, let’s look at church planting as a whole, but in specific terms, let’s consider Restoration Church. Track with me as we work through the opening five words.
This is an idea that has, in some ways, been lost in the modern Christian movement. Throughout the Scriptures, we see God “calling” out individuals and groups of people for very specific reasons. Think about Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and so on. Each of them had something in common – God was calling them to something. The call of church planting is a call on an individual or couple to be part of something that doesn’t currently exist. Like Abraham, the call may be to leave where you are and go to where God will show you (Genesis 12:1). There may not be a lot of details known in this season, but what’s clear is that the Lord is calling them to go.
In recent years, there has been a growing number of churches providing residency programs. These residencies serve as an incubator for potential church planters who need to gain some experience and/or be trained in specific areas of ministry. By the grace of God, First Family Church in Ankeny, IA is one of those churches. In the midst of wrestling with calling and what’s next, the sovereign Lord connected me to Todd Stiles, lead pastor at First Family Church. After much affirmation, my family moved to Adel in 2018 to begin a one-year residency with FFC.
Categorically, I believe you can divide church planting into two types – Pauline and Petrine. Pauline church planting is the type that we see from the Apostle Paul throughout the book of Acts. After meeting the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul became an active church planter. He traveled to multiple cities where he proclaimed the gospel, saw people trust Jesus, and then he gathered them together. Before leaving a city, Paul entrusted the ministry to faithful leaders, then he moved on to the next city to repeat the same pattern. Petrine church planting is what we see from the Apostle Peter. This type is also known as pastoral church planting. The idea is that the church planter would establish the new church, but then he would stay to pastor the flock as long as the Lord would allow him.
There have been seasons where church planting has been the “next new thing” in a city. Planters, with their teams, move in and start a worship service to gather as many people as possible. Unfortunately, these “events” aren’t sustainable because the community hasn’t been reached. Healthy church planting should be about reaching the city in which you live! This is why one of Restoration Church’s values is locality. We LOVE ADEL and want to impact the city for God’s glory for years to come.
I believe one step in the process is the public launch of the new local church, but this is NOT the final step. At this point, the church plant is establishing a public presence, but the mission continues. It can be tempting to think that once the church launches that they’ve completed the journey. In some ways, it is just the beginning. Restoration Church officially launched September 8, 2019, and after three years, it feels like we are just getting started.
I believe that there is an invisible operating system underneath the movement of church planting; it’s one word – MULTIPLICATION. The goal is multiplying disciples, leaders, groups, and churches for the sake of the gospel. That’s what Restoration Church desires to be a part of, and I hope that you want to be part of the journey too.