Last week, Kevin started a new series of posts, called “Why Church Planting?” (see his initial post here). In summary, we are moving forward with two church planting efforts. One in Auburn, Georgia slated for launch in the Fall of this year, 2012. The other, a more ambitious endeavor, will be somewhere in the Northeastern United States, and we’re looking to launch that effort sometime in the year 2014.
What I wanted to spend some time talking about in this post is how these church plants affect our church, NewBranch Community Church.
In short, this is why we exist. Our purpose statement is “to glorify God by making disciples of all nations”. This is our mission, because this is the mission of God. To be honest, my question above (“how do these church planting efforts affect NewBranch”) is the wrong question. The question should not be how will these efforts affect NewBranch, the question should be “how will NewBranch effect these efforts?”. See, the mission of taking the gospel to all nations does not exist for the church, but the church exists for the mission of taking the gospel to all nations. The purpose of the church is not self-serving, but mission-serving, and church planting is the Biblical mandate for all churches. Just as healthy disciples make other disciples, healthy churches plant other churches.
And this has always been part of our vision. From the very beginning, we have dreamed of God using us to plant churches around us, and around the world. From the pages of our membership booklet (remember that thing?), comes the following statement….
If we hold true to our mission and remain steadfast to our core values, by the power of the Holy Spirit and to the glory of God…we see this disciple-making, relational church strategy being shipped out to nearby and far-away communities through intentional church planting.
Now, none of us really knew much at all about church-planting and we didn’t have any idea how this was going to happen, but we knew this was the heart of God…and it was our heart as well. It always has been, and we’ve had our antenna up looking for how God might be leading us to move out in faith. We had no idea He would lead us to begin planting a church in Auburn and we certainly had no idea that He would lead us to start working on a church plant in New England. But I can tell you that every single one of the elders is convinced that God is leading us to do just that. Both of these blossoming opportunities have the thumbprint of God on them, and I get chill bumps thinking about it.
In upcoming posts we will give you more background on how God led us to begin church planting efforts in these two locations, but what I want us to see right now is that both of these efforts are our shared responsibility. If you are a member of NewBranch, then you are part of what God is doing in Auburn and in New England. Your church family is on the move, and we don’t want you to miss out on what God is doing in our church family. I’m convinced that God is in the process of speaking to each of us about how he wants to use each of us in these upcoming endeavors. Now, He will not use everyone the same way, but He will use everyone in some way. God may be calling some of you to be part of the upcoming Bible Studies that will be starting in the Auburn Trailer Park in the month of February. He may be calling others to help support the work of StreetWise as they continue to take the lead in meeting food and clothing needs in the community. He may call others to financially support Lauren and Kevin as they make plans to move to New England in 2014. In fact, He may even call some of you to move up to New England with them! Who knows? The point is, the Auburn church plant is not a StreetWise church plant….it’s your church plant. Kevin and Lauren are not just moving up to New England to start their own church, NewBranch is going to New England to plant a church.
It is my prayer that we would begin thinking this way. Please remember that the church is not the pastors, the elders, the staff, or the ministry leaders. The church is all of us, and God has tapped all of us on the shoulder and commanded us to faithfully follow Him in these two church planting efforts. You may be reading this thinking, “how in the world could God use me in these efforts?” That’s not a bad question to ask…but ask it in faith:
Lord, how do you want to use me in the church planting efforts to which You’ve called our church family? Please show me, and please give me the faith to say “yes” to whatever You ask of me.