Guest post by Campus/Missions Pastor Andrew Ledbetter, NorthStar Church @aledbetter
NorthStar started as a church plant in the spring of 2006 in Saltillo, MS. We set out from the beginning to be a multiplying church. Within the first three years, in a minor way, we supported a church plant in Huntsville, AL, Ignite City Church. As we approached our 10-year mark, the leadership of the church began to evaluate the past and look ahead to where the Lord is leading us. I knew it was time to take the next step in our involvement with church planting. I wasn’t sure what that looked like, who to support, or where to start but I did know we needed to be proactive in taking the next steps.
I periodically receive email updates from the NAMB through SEND Missionary George Ross, about partnering with plants in New Orleans. In April of this year, I received another email about an upcoming Catch the Vision Tour and was encouraged to attend. I knew that would be a great chance to learn more about how we could partner with a church plant.
April came, and I remember driving down with an open mind but still not knowing what we could do. The first night of the CTV everyone who was on the tour had dinner together, and three or four of the planters were able to join us. I had the opportunity to sit at a table with Troy Gause, a planter in need of a SENDING church. I was able to hear personally about his heart for the city and later that night we walked Jackson Square, in the French Quarter. Conversations are one thing, and anyone can talk a big game, but when you see their faith at work, it takes on a deeper level of respect and trust.
Seeing Troy minister and relate to people on the streets that night gave me a glimpse of his vision for the church. The next day we toured the city and made stops to hear from a ten other planters in need of support. I heard each of their stories, and some were captivating. At this point, my heart was heavy not knowing who we should partner with and to what level. I got back home and shared with the leadership team of NorthStar as well as our missions team about the trip.
We spent over a month praying and learning more about what was involved in being a SENDING and SUPPORTING church. We ultimately decided that we needed to follow the Lord’s direction and become the SENDING church for Troy and Cross Culture Community Church. This past Sunday we had Pastor Troy and his family share with our congregation about his church plant. The response was overwhelming!
I think the why's of being a sending church are obvious – Luke 10:2, John 20:21, Acts 16, etc. God has clearly called you to become a sending church. But here are three practical ways you can BE a SENDING church:
Church planting is hard work! If you are a part of an established church, understand that the work of planting a church from the ground up is extremely difficult especially in spiritually dark places. Be there to listen to their struggles. Encouraging the planter, his family and the members of the church help keep their eyes on the vision of what God has called them to do. It’s simple. It helps them know they’re not alone.
Give like you never thought you could. You can get a clear picture of what your ministry focus is, by where the budget goes. If you don’t have a place in your budget for church planting, evaluate your ministries and see where you can reallocate funds for your church plant. Next year, put them in your budget.
When you host a planter, be sure you are hospitable and take care of travel expenses because coming to your church may mean taking time away from work. With that in mind, take up a love offering or set aside an honorarium. Financial support is needed but don’t let that be what stops you from stepping out in faith.
Kevin Ezell, president of NAMB, said, “Every church regardless of size can be a sending church. It has everything to do with engagement, not with money.” Think of creative ways you can bless the planter and church. Every church has resources they are blessed with, use those for his glory and trust the Lord will provide for the needs of your church. Be bold and exercise faith, as you take the next step in missional engagement.
Not everyone can take 1-2 weeks off work to go overseas. But most can drive 5 hours or more for a weekend or 4-6 days to serve and meet needs of the church plant. Be sensitive to their schedule and plan accordingly – not just when it’s convenient for you and your church to go.
We're still taking our first steps as a SENDING church - learning as much as we can so we can be diligent and faithful in seeing Cross Culture become a self-sustaining body who loves God, leads well and lives the gospel.
What's your first step?
1. Visit the NAMB website and view the city and planter profiles
2. Sign up for a CTV
3. Pray about who to support