Administering The Local Church Through Church Planting
The first century church exemplifies the model in this aspect of pastoral calling - administering through church planting. Administering through church planting involves the fulfilling of that aspect of the purpose of the church, which has a ripple-effect social dimension. In this, the pastor and the body of Christ in his local congregation do not rest content to stay in just one locality and just keep adding new believers to the congregation. In fact, in a situation where such a local church grows fast, there will always be the problem of lack of space. In administering through church planting, the pastor launches a constructive plan for the establishing of other ecclesiast in strategic as well as needy localities.
Church planting becomes a means through which a local church expands its growth. For instance, rather than having one local church covering a wide geographical area, other assemblies can be established within that wide geographical area. The proximity of the local church to the people's locality can become an essential factor for the growth of the church. Further more, the parent church can be saved from growing beyond it limits.
Church planting, therefore, becomes a key function in the fulfilling of the purpose of the church. The local church in Sierra Leone in its various denominational forms had been administering through church planting. The evidence exists in the presence of the various ecclesias at different localities across the country. The Evangelical fellowship of Sierra Leone (EFSL) conducted an intensive survey in the Northern Province on the ministry of the Church. The survey statistics, which were published in 1933, reveal that a town called Tambakha had no church. The organization has motivated the Wesleyan church of Sierra Leone and the Baptist Convention of Sierra Leone to consider church planting at Tambahkha. In fulfilling the purpose of the church, these churches which are already working effectively in the north can expand their growth and see new assemblies at Tambakha.
The Necessity to Church Planting
The key to church planting is the Holy Spirit. It is he who convicts people of sin, of righteousness and of judgment (1 Jn. 16:8). It was the Holy Spirit who commissioned Paul and Barnabas to church planting. (Acts. 13:2-3). It was He who directed their focus to the area of need (Acts 16:6-10). It was He who created open doors and empowered the proclamation (Col. 4:3-4; 1 Thess. 1:4-5). Church planting requires the presence, power and direction of the Holy Spirit if the Church is to begin, grow and flourish.
A second necessity to church planting is the word of God. The word of God caused Peter's audience on the Day of Pentecost to be "cut to the heart" (Acts 2:37). The outcome was repentance, conversion and the church at Jerusalem was born. Paul fought for the preservation of the truth of the Word and the continual proclamation of it. Thus, he wrote to the Galatians contending for the truth of the Word which had caused their local church to come into being. (c. Gal. 1:6-9). He also contended for the truth against heresies in Colosse (c. Col. 2:16-23). We see, then that the word of God in its absolute truth, not man-made distortions, is that which should be central in the administering of the local church through church planting.
A third necessity to church planting is people. Paul developed a work force around him so he could have 'extended arms.' He conscripted Sopater of Berea, Aristachus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius and Trophimus from Asia (c. Acts 20:4). Additionally, he conscripted Epaphroditus (Phil. 2:25), Justus, Epaphras, Luke (col.4:10-14) and Aquila and Priscilia (Acts 18:1-3, 18-19). The pastor needs the 'extended arms' of the local church to engage in church planting.
Considerations for Founding a Church
For a church to be planted the following considerations should be taken into account:
1. The Place - Town or Village
You must bear in mind the village or town to which the spirit directs you for this great task.
You should find out how many people or inhabitants live there. Try to put them in categories such as children, youth and adults. Find out how many Muslims, Christians et cetera and also their occupation.
Find out the common means of communication. Train and send workers who can communicate to these people in a language they could understand easily and respond.
Do a careful analysis of cost and prepare a budget. This will include transportation, feeding and the materials to be used.
5. Social Facilities
Find out how many schools both primary and secondary; hospital(s); cinema halls; bars and restaurants if any. Find out how motorable the roads are.
6. Persons Involved
You must bear in mind that it is not just one man's work, you need helpers. Train helpers for the tasks,
7. Methods to reach the area
Consider how to reach the people. Three effective ways are evangelistic campaign, personal evangelism or witnessing and Bible Studies.
Strategies for Effective Church Planting: Seven Strategies are Outlined below:
1. Pray and plan: Here we have the example of Jesus Christ. Jesus always prayed when He wanted to undertake a great task: He usually went out early in the morning in a lonely place to pray (Mark 1:35); He prayed before his trial (Mark 14:32-36); He prayed at His death (Luke 23:46). He also prayed at many occasions during his life (Luke 6:12, Mark 1:35, Matthew 14:19.
Prayer is foundational to church planting. Teach and encourage your church members to pray often. They must pray for God's power and leadership in this important task. Praying and planning are intertwined; they must go together.
For every good and successful work, there must be good planning. Planning gives direction to achieve a goal.
2. Find helpers: Jesus chose helpers at the very beginning of his ministry (Matt. 4:17-22). With all his power he still wanted helpers. Likewise, you will need assistance because church planting is not only for the pastor. You must at least list two helpers for an effective church planting. These people must be committed and faithful Christians who go to evangelize. The people you chose to be helpers must be faithful Christians (2 Tim. 1:12). They must be willing to work (Rom. 12:11). They must allow the Holy spirit to work in them (Acts 1:8). They must be prayer-oriented people (Mk. 11:24). You no longer do things in isolation but work and pray together as a team.
3. Survey the area: Together with your team go out and look for possible areas where a new church can be started. In order to do so, go to two or three areas and find out where there is a possibility to start a new church, and ask questions from people who live in these areas. You may prepare survey forms bearing the name, tribe, age, occupation, sex, religion and provide space for the person's response to your task or intention.
You may also want to know about: the population, language spoken, churches in the area, schools and shops, the needs of the people. Look for possible place where people can meet for prayer meeting and Bible Study. Do we need to take permission to have religious meetings in those areas? Possible places to ask or get information are shops, houses and offices.
After you have surveyed bring the findings together and give a report to the church or to whoever is responsible. From the report discuss and evaluate the survey exercise. Through the discussion you may assess whether you need to start a church or not.
4. Visit Families: Visiting families is another effective way. In Acts 16:34-35 we read how Paul witnessed to a family and spoke to them the word of God. And Jesus on many occasions visited families: the family of Simon Peter (Mk. 1:29-31); the family of Matthew (Matt. 9:9-13); the family of Mary, Martha and Lazarus (Lk.10:38-42) and the family of the Pharisee (Lk. 11:37).
Jesus is our model. He said in John 20:21 "As the father has sent me, even so send I you." You will bring forth fruit in the house of people as you visit families. Speak with the heads of families because they can influence the whole family. But young people and women should not be neglected. You share the good news of Jesus Christ as you visit families.
As you visit families talk about the bible, Jesus and the Church. Try to find out their problems and help to solve them either by praying for them or encouraging them or helping them physically. Above all tell people about your Christian experience. Let the Holy Spirit do His work.
5. Find a meeting place: As you receive an increased response through the visitation, you would need a meeting place. It could be under a big tree, community centre, school, et cetera. A place must be found where the new believers and people interested in the Christian faith can meet for teaching, prayer and worship. You may also invite other people to join you. Look for a convenient and central location. People should be able to find the meeting place without any difficulty. The meeting place must be kept clean. People will not attend a church that is dirty and unattractive.
6. Begin the meeting: this is a time of worship, prayer and sharing. Hebrew 10:25 is foundational in this section. "Do not neglect to meet together". In Hebrews 10 we see a picture of what should happen in Christian meetings: "come near to God with a true heart in full assurance of faith." (vs. 22).
"Build up one another to love and good works" (vs.24).
"Encourage one another" (vs. 25).
This is also a time for Bible study. Allow members to read their bibles at this point. If there are no bibles provide bibles for the new converts or group. Speak the language that is common to the group. Also, consider the following as you teach a bible study: (i) be vibrant; (ii) allow discussions; (iii) make lessons practical; (iv) show interest in the needs of the people. Train someone to become a bible study leader.
You may also extend the bible study to worship service. Worship services quench our thirst for God. The worship services should bring glory to God. As members worship together help them to discover God himself. Help them to rely on God as their source of power, pleasure and satisfaction. When God is real in worship services lives are changed, sins are forgiven and faith grows strong. The Holy Spirit will teach, comfort, guide and empower the people.
7. Find and train leaders: As your work is not only limited in one place or area you must find and train leaders who will continue the work you began. The leader or leaders can be in the new fellowship or from your local church.
The leader or leaders should be faithful to Christ; willing to learn; and called by God. You must depend upon the Holy Spirit for this task of choosing leaders.
The leader is called to be a servant (Matt. 23:8-12); called to be a minister of the word (Eph. 4:11-16); called as a witness of Christ (Act. 1:2121:22: 10:39-43); called to a special work (1 Tim. 3:1-7); and called to be a shepherd (1 Pet. 5:1-4).1
The first and foremost requirement of the pastor is that he must be spirit-filled Christian. The pastor's role is not only limited in his local congregation but it also has to do with his personal being as a pastor, church relationship and non-Christian organization or communities relationship.
The Role of the Pastor in Church Planting
The pastor must have a genuine love for his people. He cannot be an effective leader if love is not seen in his life. He cannot win people to Christ; he cannot be a man of God; he cannot lead, preach, teach and perform other duties well in his local congregation.
He must have compassion for his congregation. He must feel in the same way as his people feel-grieve when they grieve, hurt when they are hurt, rejoice when they rejoice. He must have concern for his people. He must have concern over their problems, their needs, their burdens and sorrows.
The role of the pastor includes teaching, preaching, counseling, and witnessing. The book of Acts is our basic foundation. This is where we find all the above elements of the pastor's role. Jesus is our model. We are told by Jesus in John 15:16. "to go and bring forth fruit". In the homes of people, as you visit families, you will bring forth fruit. As you visit, listen to people and talk about their need and problems and try to help solve them either by praying for them, counseling or giving physical assistance.
In Acts 20:20, Paul taught people as he went from house to house. How can people know about Jesus Christ if they are not told and taught. We teach people so that they can understand. He must teach the basic Christian doctrines so that the new congregation may not accept any strange and false teaching but grow in their Christian lives. In his preaching he must preach evangelistic and pastoral sermons which will encourage the new congregation to mature in Christ. His teaching and preaching should be varied from time-to-time.
The pastor needs to cultivate relationship with his church and its members. He must work hand-in-hand with the members and with the leadership, showing honesty, Christian character, moral behaviour and love in all his behaviour.
Now let us look at two key elements to a pastor's attitude with his people.
HONESTY: He should possess an honest and straightforward relationship with his local congregation and his community. People will love a pastor who sets appropriate Christian standard in whatever he does.
PRAYER: He must be a man of prayer. He must pray daily himself and for his congregation. The more time spent in prayer the more effective the church planter. When he prays he becomes more effective in his work.
The pastor should involve the people in his ministry. He can involve them in many ways. He can lighten his work by delegating other responsibilities to them. He must love and appreciate their work. The lay people must be taught to preach and be involved in visitation and other duties of the church.
The pastor should not bypass the leaders in the decision making or promoting processes. Participation planning at all level is important for effective church planting. He must teach and prepare the church to be self-supporting.
The Pastor and His Community
The pastor should not restrict himself only to his local congregation; he must interact with his community in which he lives. The pastor together with his congregation must involve themselves in the activities of the community in which they live. For instance, he must involve himself in the cleaning exercises, such as cleaning of cemeteries, roads and villages or towns. The pastor's involvement and relationship is very important in his community. As he gets himself involved in community matters, he must retain the vision and carry out the task of evangelism by making friends and finding natural opportunities for witnessing. This is the social aspect of the pastor. He must not keep himself in isolation or tied up to his congregation, but should be involved in community matters.
The pastor is responsible to God, to the church, and the lost. The pastor is God's servant and messenger. God has entrusted to him His gospel and his people. He must tend and feed his congregation with God's word.
The pastor is also a servant to the people in his church. He must be willing to work sacrificially and open to correction by his members. He must visit his members on a regular basis. As he visits, he helps people in their various needs.8
As we have already observed, Church Planting is a non-negotiable factor in the life of the Local Church. Whereas a live church engages herself in perpetuating the Great Commission through Church Planting a dead church does not. It is a thrilling experience to see new congregations emerging and interacting with one another. In all of these, the Holy Spirit, the Pastor, and the believers are stakeholders.