Note: This blog entry is excerpted and adapted from my upcoming book, tentatively titled The Church Planting Journey. We’ll be posting excerpts about once a month here and we’d love to hear feedback from you. We hope you are getting as excited about it as we are! And as we get closer to publication, we’ll give you the countdown!
If you’re planting a church, one important choice you need to make is whether to plant within a denomination or network or independently. Here’s my two cents: every planter needs some type of confirmation from and connection to the larger body of Christ. You can’t read scripture and not believe in some form of connectionism. What that looks like can certainly be debated, but local congregations are not intended to be isolated. Help will be needed at some point.
It shouldn’t just be you who thinks you should be planting but some sort of sending body, whether that’s a denomination, a parent church, a network of churches. Some type of covering needs to come from others, not just you and God. In this way, local churches can support each other when support is needed, and correct each other when correction is needed.
Every network functions differently, but here are some possible advantages they can provide:
- Cohort groups
- Prayer support and encouragement
- Wise counsel and resources
If you are leaning toward planting independently, remember this: at some point, your church will need help. You can assume that to be a given. Connections and support for the times when you’re in trouble or in crisis are especially important then.
I’ve always strongly counseled planters to form some type of network or connection early on because they will need help at some point. When the planters who ignore that advice get into trouble down the road, they don’t know who to reach out to. They may then expect a friend or a coach to perform the role of a network leader. Realize that when you make the decision not to have a network of any kind, you’re effectively isolating yourself.
I believe as a church planter, it’s dangerous to have too much of a spirit of independence. I’d suggest that every planter connect with a denomination or network of some kind. If you find yourself unwilling to accept any type of oversight or accountability, set aside some time to reflect on that and consider what might be going on under the surface. Talk with a coach or trusted friend.