Church Planting Movement
We began as a church planting movement! Our historic roots, tradition and theology extend from the beginning of Methodism with John Wesley in England and the spreading of American Methodism with Francis Asbury. This move of God brought new churches and transformed communities across the spreading American landscape.
The Evangelical Methodist Church came into existence in 1946 as a Good News Movement of fresh wind and fire for renewal and revival across America. For over 60 years our evangelistic fervor and evangelical holiness theology identifies us with the original biblically focused Methodism. We are asking the Lord to renew this spiritual vitality in a revived “church planting movement” for ministry in the 21st century.
We mobilize ourselves to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to “make disciples”. The call of the Great Commission begins with preaching the gospel of salvation through faith, but the command is to “make disciples among all ethnic groups” (Matthew 28:19-20). Discipleship making is the heartbeat in our church planting.
We have organized and planned for the expansion of the Kingdom. We not only plan, we plant churches!
Various models are used from a conference sponsored church plant to the preferred model of a local church planting a daughter church or a satellite church extension of the local church.
You are inited to join us and allow God to enlarge the borders of your ministry. Take a step and join a Great Commission minded church family.
If you are unconvinced of church multiplication, Dr. Williamson shares, with “tongue in cheek”, the following comments:
If the Evangelical Methodist Church is not going to multiply churches and become a Spirit-led church planting movement, then the following suggestions for what to do while we are not multiplying churches is appropriate:
1. Call yourself an apostle or a church planter. Have some business cards printed. Circulate your cards and build a web page.
2. Throw lots of money at subsidizing unhealthy, declining churches, who neglect systematic discipleship and efforts for restart and redevelopment.
3. Throw money at “experimental Missional initiatives” and never evaluate their effectiveness.
4. Set goals for multiplying new churches but don’t make it clear who is responsible to accomplish the goals.
5. Elect or appoint superintendents and pastors who produce no goals or vision for church multiplication. Let them model a maintenance mentality for the pastors and churches.
6. Elect a responsible and talented person. Avoid giving them any real authority, discretionary time, or funding. Change the appointment every two years. After ten years, save money by retiring the position and making everyone else responsible. After all, nothing was produced for the Kingdom!
7. Promote the availability of funds in the district or annual conference for evangelism, but build an expenditure procedure that requires at least the approval of four committees or boards, at least 3 to 4 signatures of people ‘in authority’, and limit the amount that can be expended on each proposal.
8. Appoint a committee to undertake a study and write a report. Wait three years then do it again.
9. Hire a consultant to undertake a study and write a report. Wait three years then do it again.
10. Appoint the wrong people to plant churches. When they fail conclude that church planting doesn’t work.
11. When you see a healthy church plant say, “Yes it’s growing but it’s not really an ‘Evangelical Methodist Church’! It is using a ‘Community Church’ name.”
12. Require pioneering leaders to be theologically trained with a seminary graduate degree before they can plant a church.
13. Throw your best leaders at your biggest problems, not at your greatest opportunities.
14. Watch pioneering leaders exit your movement and then comment on their lack of commitment.
15. Reward pioneering leaders with promotions. Get them away from the front line. Harness their drive to keep the institutional wheels turning.
16. To usher in the new millennium change “mission” to “Missional.” By the year 2010 plan to change “Missional” to “Post Missional.” Keep it fresh!
17. As a local church agree to plant new churches when: (a) You’re large enough (b) You’re healthy enough (c) You have the leaders to give away (d) You have the money to spare (e) God has clearly shown you it’s time (f) When the cow jumps over the moon.
18. Run workshops on church planting. Hold conferences on church planting. Offer a course at your theological college on church planting. Do nothing to follow up with the people who show an interest. Make sure only experts get to teach. Keep the practitioners away from the students. Keep the students in the classroom.
19. Plan to grow your church, facilities, staff, and budget as BIG as you can. Let your vision stop at your car park. Let church history end with you. Let the Kingdom dream die.
20. Set ridiculous but catchy sounding goals like “500 in 5 years,” or “2,000 by 2,000.” Three years after the target date expires set new goals. Don’t forget to change the dates!
21. Modernize your theology, then post modernize your theology. Remove evangelism and church planting from the center of God’s mission in the world. When decline hits make sure the paid professionals are the last to feel the pinch.
22. Set up a blog on church planting. Create links to other bloggers on church planting. Be sure they link to you. Add smoke and mirrors.
23. Agree with the pastor and the denomination’s vision for church planting among ethnic groups in the USA, but never invite someone from another ethnicity to one of your services. If God is really moving build a separate facility just for ‘them’.
24. Celebrate with the ‘one’ local church of the Conference that is successfully planting and multiplying new churches, but make sure all the conference funds are not used at this one site.
(Edited and adapted by Dr. Ed Williamson from Steve Addison, the Australian Director of Church Resource Ministries.) August 2006
(The following was written by Dr. Ed Williamson, General Superintendent, October 12, 2006)
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE JOINING A CHURCH PLANT
There are challenges and blessings when you become part of a church plant. I have observed and experienced the hurts, fears, disappointment in people and leaders, coupled with the church planter’s fatigue in planting a church. The same things are experienced in normal routines of pastoral ministry, but in the church plant or redevelopment they are magnified. The reason is you are in a ‘life or death’ situation. Remember the real enemy is not the pastor or people, it is the devil. It is a supernatural battle (Ephesians 6:12). We are not unaware of the devil’s schemes in attempting to cause a miscarriage or partial birth abortion of the church plant before it has financial and numerical stability. Prayer is the key to survival and unwavering commitment from the leadership cannot be overemphasized.
The Challenges of a Church Plant:
1. Overcoming a fear of failure by not personally internalizing what is the Lord’s responsibility. Remember the Promised Land Scouting Report of the twelve spies! Ten said it could not be done, Joshua and Caleb said it could because success depended on God’s trustworthy character, not our human strength and resources.
2. Overcoming fatigue. There is an extra load of commitment and ministry involvement for all the members. Spiritual ‘bench warming’ is not an option. A church plant requires the whole team on the field.
3. Overcoming strained relationships in the midst of ministry decisions. God’s grace has enough depth and power to maintain unity and forgiveness when appropriated by His servants. The leadership team must stay unified and exhibit spiritual brokenness before the Lord and self sacrificing love for one another.
4. Overcoming shallowness of commitment to the Lord’s call. The front line ministry of a church plant will stretch you into a fuller commitment to the Lord and His love for all people. Expect spiritual growth or you will return to a ‘shallow commitment’ and sometimes leave the church plant.
The Blessings of a Church Plant:
1. Sharing the position as one of the ‘fathers’ or ‘mothers’ who give birth to a new baby. When you are a charter member of a church you are forever one of the parents of the church. It is a gift from God to share in a church plant, just as a child is a gift of God.
2. ‘One on One’ discipleship and care occurs efficiently in the smaller group context of the church plant. The new church plant may not have all the “bells and whistles” of established ministries, but there is no compromising the spiritual transforming impact upon adults and children in their spiritual lives. Small does not mean sub par discipleship and care. ‘Large’ does not guarantee knowledge that is heart transforming.
3. God gives you a spiritual legacy. The foundation laid by your earlier sacrifice and commitment brings a harvest of transformed grace filled people throughout the years. They will thank you because they found the Lord through the ministries of this church. A church plant is a good use of your time, talent, and treasure.
4. Growing into a person of faith. Every person will learn the faith lessons exhibited by Abraham, i.e. faith is determined not by the circumstances, but by the character and greatness of God. These lessons will transform your walk with the Lord.
I have visited over the past months church plants and listened to church planting couples. My personal conviction is we need to do a better job in the initial training and orientation for our people who commit to a new church plant. We prepare our pastor, the church planter, but have not had committed enough focus on those who make a covenant to participate. The principle in all ministries is this: ‘If you want it to happen, teach it’.