A Church Planting Church Plant
Our mission at Redemption Hill Church is to glorify God by living out his mission as a community transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. The mission of God is to redeem worshipers for himself from all over the globe. Our mission, then, is to make disciples of all nations, and we believe the best way to make disciples is through vigorous church planting. Most church planters I know have church planting in their DNA from day one, but not all of them know when and how to begin. How can a church plant be a part of church planting? Is it even possible when your plant is not self-sustaining? After all, as one of my mentors reminded me in our early days: “You have to plant a church before you can plant churches.” This is true, and yet, there are ways a church plant can help plant other churches from its inception. Let me give you six ways we have sought to be a church planting church plant since we arrived in Medford three years ago.
1. Communicate a vision for multiplication. We did not move to Medford to plant a church. We moved to Medford to plant many churches throughout Greater Boston and across the world. We tried to communicate this in every way possible from our earliest days. From our church planting prospectus, to core group meetings, budgets, membership classes, prayer in small groups, prayer in worship services, and even conversations with nonbelievers, we want people to understand that to be a part of Redemption Hill equals being a part of God’s mission of establishing new churches.
2. Make disciples with the big picture in mind. Every time you share the gospel with an unbeliever, and every investment you make in a growing follower of Christ is a potential investment in a church plant. As you invite others to “imitate you as you imitate Christ,” ask God to make many of them future deacons, elders, church planters, and core team members of future church plants.
3. Develop leaders through equipping and delegating responsibility. Redemption Hill is the beneficiary of a great sending church that modeled how to raise up future leaders. A little more than two years into our journey we launched our LEAD program, which is an invitation only effort identifying those active in ministry and who desire to be trained for greater responsibility. We challenge each of our participants through Scripture study and memorization, assigned reading, ministry projects, and intentional mentorship. The combination of biblical and theological formation with life on life ministry responsibility is a great mechanism for identifying and equipping future church planters. Ideally, our participants will also be small group leaders, which serve as our other primary leadership training ground.
4. Cultivate partnerships as early as possible. Hundreds of individuals and churches have prayed for us, supported us financially, and sent teams to serve with us. We sought most of them out, but a few of them came looking for us. It is never too early to look for a like-minded church plant to support. They are not hard to find.
5. Give sacrificially out of your initial budget. One of the most practical questions, and perhaps most difficult, involves when to begin setting aside money to invest in church planting. Many people will say, “You’re the mission.” This implies a plant should only receive rather than give to others in need. Rather than viewing our plant as simply the mission, we believe we are a mission on a mission. Before we hosted our first service, our core team began designating a significant percentage of our internal offerings (not outside support) to church planting. This not only reveals our values, but it also positions us to be more generous as we become self-sustaining. Plus, Jesus words are true: “It is more blessed to give than receive” (Acts 20:35).
6. Provide coaching to church planters a few steps behind you. Coaching others starts with being coached. It is more difficult to give to others what you have not been willing to receive. For the past eight years, other pastors and church planters have mentored us. My plan is to have a coach for the next forty years. We have asked countless questions, and now others are beginning to ask us the same questions. Take time to host planters visiting your city. Try to document everything you do and be willing to share your resources with those who come behind you. Allow others to glean wisdom from your successes and the blunders you have made along the way.
These are just a few ways a church plant can begin making investments in church planting. Church planting is a walk of faith, so is planting other churches. Why not experience the double blessing of striving to be a church planting church plant?Tanner Turley is the Lead Pastor and Planter of Redemption Hill Church in Medford, MA (Greater Boston). He and his wife, Marsha, have two girls, Parker and Kesed. He enjoys hanging with friends and family, frequenting coffee shops, reading, and following the Red Sox and Celtics. His desire is to see people become missional disciples who love Jesus, his Word, his people, his mission, and his glory. He holds an M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees from SEBTS.