A helping hand

by John Gross

You cannot plant a church without help. How we choose to produce this help distinguishes the differences in church planting styles.

Two approaches to church planting have become popular in the last few years. One is what we’ll simply call the large group or core group method. In this method, the sending church allows a group of their members to accompany a church planter to a particular area for the purpose of helping the church planter establish the new church. From this group the church planter develops his leadership for the church. This approach comes with its challenges. The church planter can become more involved in pastoring these initial partners rather than reaching the unchurched and lost souls of the community. Remember, the purpose of this new church is to reach the community through evangelism and discipleship.

The second style of church planting is the parachute approach. It’s been used since the church in Antioch sent Saul and Barnabas. In this method, a church that wants to meet the needs within a particular community sends a planter, his family, and maybe another couple to start a church. This style is typically slower, but many times proves to be more stable. With this approach, there is a bonding and a pioneer spirit that can be acquired in no other way. It makes discipleship and evangelism a necessity on a daily basis. Faith and consistency is developed within the new converts who become part of the structure and leadership of the new church.

Each of these approaches is acceptable and exciting to those participating. The approach chosen becomes a matter of prayer through the leadership of the Holy Spirit.