Editor’s note: This October, China Partnership is praying for and sharing about church planting within China. Deciding to join a church plant is often emotional, as those who participate in a plant must commit to the hard work of establishing a new body, and also have to say good-bye to dear friends who will remain at the mother church. Today, we are sharing a letter to his congregation from the pastor of a mother church in a large Chinese city, urging parishioners to consider joining a new church plant.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
During our recent congregational and prayer meetings, our elders and church planting pastors updated the church on the progress of our upcoming church plant. This fall, we are planning to plant a new church just 3 and a half miles away from our mother church. This brand-new church will be made up of some of the elders, pastors, and members from this church; but eventually, this new church will be completely independent of our church. We believe this is the mission entrusted to the church in the Bible: to multiply and expand the church in order to increase the number of people who have heard the gospel, to build up the body of Christ, and ultimately to exalt and glorify God’s name.
As I write this letter, our elders have already approved the new church’s budget. The pastor of the church plant has begun to invite brothers and sisters who will attend to join in planning meetings. If a member or a family at our church can cut ten minutes off their usual commute—by whatever means of transportation they use—by going to the new plant, we recommend that they should join the ministry of the church plant. Even if they are not ten minutes closer to the new plant, they are still encouraged to consider making the effort to join the new plant and “go and make disciples of all nations.”
Maybe you are close to the new site but don’t really want to go, or perhaps it does not make a big difference which church you attend, yet you are still hesitant to join the new church. Perhaps you are a part of the category we are encouraging to consider the new church, but have decided that since it is not mandatory, you would rather stay put. I want to share with you today five reasons why I encourage you to go to the new church, and explain to you why joining the new church is a godly decision.
Would You Pray With Us Today?
First, this is submission to the gospel mission of our Lord and Savior to bring the gospel to as many people as possible.
Due to space constraints, our church is not able to accommodate as many people investigating Christianity as we wish, much less to minister to seeker friends who live far from us. The limited space and number of our staff determines our limited capacity to respond to the mission of the gospel entrusted to us by God. We all have different ministry gifts, and not all of us are gifted in evangelism. Going to a new church expands the capacity of each of the churches to preach the gospel by participating in God’s gospel ministry and bringing more people to saving faith.
Second, the church plant is a ministry that manifests the glory of God.
God has had a plan from before the beginning of the ages “so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might…be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” Participating in the planting of a new church is adding to the city a body of Christ that manifests God’s glory. Therefore, church planting is a ministry that brings glory to God.
Third (and this is especially true for those who live close to the area of the new plant), participating in the church plant displays the attitude of a faithful steward, who makes good use of his gifts for the Lord, the Gift-Giver.
1 Peter 4:10 says, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” We are not just talking about spiritual gifts here. We are also talking about money and income, shelter, jobs, relationships, and all the gifts that God has given you through his care. “It is required of stewards that they be found faithful.” Attending a church that proclaims the gospel, and serving this church close to you is a faithful stewardship of God’s care-giving gifts, and a way to live a God-centered life. This also gives other brothers and sisters in the church the opportunity to visit with you, disciple you, and even counsel you more easily when you are in spiritual crisis. Shortening your physical distance from the church allows many of the good things that God has promised in the Bible to be put into practice.
Fourth, involvement in the church plant is an opportunity for growth, sanctification, and for receiving pastoral care.
Being involved in a church plant means you will have more opportunities for ministry, more opportunities to take on church responsibilities, and more opportunities to entertain and disciple other brothers and sisters. It will also be even easier to bring neighbors and friends to church after you share the gospel with them.
Fifth, this allows the pastors and elders of both churches to rejoice more in their teaching and pastoral care, rather than being unduly sorrowful.
3 John 1:4 says, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” If one lives next to a church plant and is not willing to go to that new church, it makes it difficult for the elders of our mother church to persuade visitors who live next to the new church to attend the new church. It is also more difficult for the elders of the new church to persuade visitors to their church who live next to the mother church to go and attend the mother church. As stated above, distance makes serving the church, entertaining and counseling, and fostering good fellowship between members harder for individuals, as well as for the church.
There are more reasons than these to attend the newly planted church, but these five seem to me to be the most compelling and biblical. As pastor, I sincerely urge you to consider joining the church planting ministry. The physically closer you are to the planting area, the greater the spiritual and moral responsibility to join the church plant. I hope you will pray for this, and pray for the church.
Mother Church Pastor,
Fan Ming is a pseudonym for a pastor in a large urban Chinese city. The church he pastors planted her first church in 2010; planted a second time in 2020; and is now preparing for her third plant in 2022.
FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION
Pray for Chinese church members who are considering whether to devote themselves to the ministry and outreach of a new church plant.