by Sam Rodriguez, Director of Hispanic/Latino & Multi-Ethnic New Church Starts, Path 1
You don’t have to be a planter in order to help start a new church. There are so many ways existing churches can help start faith communities. One of the most popular models for planting a new church right now is the “partnered start.” In this model an existing church or group of churches provides financial, logistical, and spiritual support to a new start in the area sometimes also providing leadership for the new ministry.
The partner-start model for church planting is probably the best example of our connectional system working the way it should. Churches that engage in the efforts of a new church plant illustrate an unselfishness to support a plant that most likely will reach a group presently not being reached, in a manner that differs from how the partner does their ministry. Seeking to support the vision of the planter should be the main role of the partner church.
It’s a big responsibility to support a plant, but most of all it takes faith and humility. The leaders among the partners must be clear that as stakeholders for the plant, they are there to support and not direct the planter’s vision; this cannot be over-emphasized. Having clearly written expectations as in any covenantal agreement should be one of the first orders of business. These should include but not limited to; frequency of reporting by planter, what type of support the planter can expect and for how long from each of the partners, and a commitment to pray regularly for both the planter and the plant.
If the partnership involves partnering to support a plant that is of a different ethnic group much attention should be placed on assuring the planter is allowed to plant in a contextualized manner conducive to his or her ethnic group. Individual who represent partner churches should be culturally sensitive to the differences in values and convictions of the ethnic planter. The partner-start model can be a wonderful blessing to all ethnic groups and a path to reach more people.
Not all of us are called to be planters or part of a planting team, but they are many ways we can still support new church planting through existing churches and ministries. Partnered start planting is a courageous way to create new places for new people.
Has your church been a partner to a new church start? Are part of congregation started by this model? If so, please with us some of your experiences and insights.