The First Steps Denominational Leaders Should Take to Support Church Planters

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“Let’s get our job done and go home.” This mantra still rings in my ears and resonates with my heart. Detroit church planter Mick Veach finished his presentation about his recent church multiplication story at our Wesleyan General Conference in June with these words. It was at this same gathering when I was elected to become a denominational leader as the Executive Director of Church Multiplication and Discipleship of the The Wesleyan Church. As I prayerfully consider the responsibility of the great task of church multiplication, I am optimistic. There seems to be great anticipation for what is possible when we all unite, prayerfully focused on the goal of reaching our world with the transforming hope and holiness of Jesus Christ. I believe we are in a divine moment, poised for greater effectiveness. Church multiplication must be at the point of the spear if this greatness is going to unfold. Unity will be our motive as well as in our conversations if effectiveness is going to happen.

Imagine the Kingdom impact if a denomination fully embraced the God-given call of the risk-taking entrepreneur and, in turn, the risk-taking entrepreneur were to embrace the God-given call of the denomination. Nevertheless, in a relational dynamic such as this, I believe the denomination must take the first steps. In this blog, I want to give you three ways that denominations can instigate relationships with risk-taking Kingdom laborers.

1. Show Respect.

As with any relationship, the first step is respect. Respect is contagious. I imagine endless potential if denominational leadership unreservedly embraced the church planters, the sending churches, and the pastors who break the mold while reaching more people. Respect occurs through validating, celebrating, and providing financial support. Understanding and appreciating the temperament of a person with an apostolic, prophetic, or evangelistic call is invaluable.

When I read about the strong and out-of-the-ordinary nature of John the Baptist, it makes me shudder to think how denominational leaders may be similar to the ruling power of his day. Thankfully, John accomplished his kingdom assignment and he prepared the way for the Lord Jesus. However, it cost him his life, literally. God help us! In 1 Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul lists several of the roles and gifts that God appoints and gives (apostles, prophets, teachers, workers of miracles, etc.). The chapter closes as an introduction to Chapter 13, what we call the “love chapter,” with these words, “But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way.” I imagine God speaking to denominational leaders saying, “Over all these multipliers, put on love and respect.”

2. Favor Movement over Model

A second step that can be taken is to favor movement over model. Multiplication is the single most effective way to reach new people, and therefore, the mandate. Some church planting models have come and gone. Some have popped up in pockets around the country and are gaining traction. Other models are on the horizon. As we have observed the multiplication efforts over the last several decades, it seems evident that denominational leaders would do well to champion movement over model and give the freedom of choosing the model to the local leaders. The local leaders are both the senders and the sent ones. They need the freedom to contextualize.

3. Broaden Your Church Planter Profile

Finally, we are poised for greater effectiveness when we embrace an “all hands on deck” approach to recruiting and training planters. This begins by cultivating a clear strategy of a wide planter profile. I envision a day when I can walk into a Starbucks and not so easily profile who the pastors and church planters are! Imagine how much more multiplication could occur if we eliminated the narrowly defined scope of who we assume God is calling to be multipliers.

What if we did away with the notion that you are too old if you are past your forties or too young if you are in your twenties. My husband, Karl, and I were 31 and 25 when were sent into a tiny church plant with 19 people. Of course, it was a hard way to begin a ministry. We felt over our heads at times. But, the church grew. Leaders were developed. Many were sent out. I look back now and cannot believe how young we were. Today, I have to remind myself intentionally that “too young” is usually my own prejudice. What if we welcomed every minority group with arms wide open? What if we included women, who make up half of the church? These traditional groups are often not even on our radar and are an untapped reservoir of potential for turning our efforts into a movement.

In conclusion, there are some places where church multiplication will occur without, instead of, or even in spite of denominational involvement, and sometimes, for good reason. However, greater effectiveness can occur when everyone joins forces. It is more involved than what is mentioned in these few paragraphs. It’s not a simple proposition. It may be harder to increase our joint efforts, yet worth it. All parties will need to do their part. My call today is for the denominational leadership to take the first step. I’m stepping out myself. “Let’s get our job done and go home.”

Rev. Anita Eastlack is an ordained minister in The Wesleyan Church and currently serves as Executive Director of Church Multiplication for the Wesleyan Church. She is a graduate of Houghton College and holds a Master's degree from Wesley Seminary. She had the privilege of growing up in a church-planting Christian home and has given leadership to a church plant along with her husband, Karl. She is passionate about reaching new leaders and planters for effective service and ministry.