The Blessings of Planting Churches
The weekly ministry of a local church is hard but is full of many blessings. The work of planting a new church has its own set of difficulties, but the reward is worth the effort. There is also a blessing for the congregation that gets involved in the work of church planting.
One of our shared goals in ARBCA is church planting. For a church or an association to take the Great Commission seriously, the cultivation of local congregations is a necessary activity.
What work could be more rewarding than bringing the gospel to an area through the public means of grace of a weekly Lord’s Day worship service? What could be more worthwhile than bringing the eternal gospel to people that they might escape eternal death by receiving eternal life by faith alone in Christ alone? What could be more enjoyable than to see people come to understand the gospel for the first time and grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior?
What about the sending church? Is there any blessing for those remaining behind in the relative comfort of an established weekly ministry? Is there a blessing for them too? Yes, there is.
When Community Baptist Church was first approached to consider working in Valley City, North Dakota, it was immediately clear this was work which required more than merely the elders and a few motivated members. From the very beginning, a critical element for moving forward with the work was the involvement of the entire congregation. From the start, the whole congregation contributed to the work in Valley City. The church needed to share in the work of Valley City. So it was decided that it was necessary for the entire congregation to be involved if we were to move forward with the work in Valley City.
Ways were found to involve the congregation. Some helped with worship services by preaching, song leading, praying, inviting friends, or just attending. Others got dirty by painting, cleaning, tearing out carpet, fixing downspouts, fixing leaks, or participating in promotional activities. One person even sold her house and moved to Valley City to help with the work. We also had ways for people to give financially above their regular tithing. As long as the congregation was involved, we kept moving forward with the work.
Both the apostles Paul and John write of “Fellow workers” in Christ Jesus, for the kingdom, and with the truth. Paul even says of himself and Apollos, they were “God’s fellow workers.” While not everyone is an apostle, Paul and John make it clear that others shared in their work and in so doing shared in the blessing.
Is there a blessing for the sending congregation? Yes, if they are tangibly involved in the work. With the arrival of Mark and Christine Hogan, the workload shifted significantly. It was the many hours of “sweat equity” by the members of Community Baptist Church that prepared the way for the coming of the Hogans. This participation creates a real and tangible sense of sharing in the ministry’s outcome. This labor gives rise to a shared concern for the success of the work in Valley City and a willingness for future involvement. To continue to cultivate the sense of blessing, we have scheduled regular times of combined worship and fellowship meals among the congregations of Community Baptist and Pilgrims Reformed Baptist.
The blessing is knowing that we are sharing in God’s work. Those sharing in the hard work of a church plant are involved in something incredible, life-changing, and eternal. Looking back to see how God has worked and what He has accomplished through our labor gives a sense of satisfaction. It lets us share in a small way in what God must have felt as He looked out on all that He had made and said it is “Very good.” Is there a greater blessing than knowing we are co-workers with God in bringing others into His Kingdom forever?