Exploring Church Planting by Nancy Dumford
In June of this year, I travelled with my husband, Bryan to Evangelical Church Planting Assessment in Kansas City where we were “recommended” to continue the journey to become church planters. Fast-forward through most of the summer and fall, this past week I travelled to Chasta, Minnesota (brrr!) for ECC Church Planter Training. I was apprehensive and excited all at the same time.
Church Planter training was remarkable. To begin with, I have often pictured “church-planters” as fitting a stereotype - young, male, hip. Was I ever surprised to find young and old, male and female, cool and kinda cool (just kidding!). These planters came from all corners of the country- LA, Alaska, NYC and Akron. The process of church planting became very clear and I gained such admiration for what you, the people of Sanctuary, have sacrificed in order to make the vision a reality. Thank you for sacrificing for the church we enjoy. Well done!
The trainers compared a church to the human body in that the body has “systems” that need to remain healthy in order for the body to function (i.e. circulatory, skeletal, respiratory, and more). Similarly, churches must maintain seven systems in order to grow and be fruitful. Can you guess what these seven systems include? I’ll tell you in a moment… We learned that all churches should evaluate and improve these systems regularly. Each system needs a team and a leader. One of the joys of serving in a church is employing your gifts for God’s purpose. Perhaps, one of these systems will seem compelling to you or you have ideas of how we could improve a system. Just let Pastor Rich or I know - we’d love to dream with you.
7 Systems of a church: Outreach, Worship, Connections, Discipleship, Stewardship, Mission, and Leadership.
I grew to understand that God’s kingdom very much needs churches that are committed to multiplying - especially through the vehicle of developing new congregations. Each year in the US about 4,000 churches shut down. In fact in the 1980’s there were more than 500,000 churches in the US and now that number has decreased to 330,000 churches. Furthermore, new congregations (like ours) are one of the most fruitful ways to gather unchurch, non-believing friends and neighbors. People are more willing to visit a newer congregation and members of these new congregations are more likely to be missionally minded. Jesus gave us one main commandment (Mt. 22:35-40) and one main task (Mt. 28:18-21) - Love God, Love People, Make Disciples. That is what we need to be about.
Finally, I spent much time reflecting on my journey and discerning where the Lord seems to be leading me. While at the training I realized that I have found a new “home” in the Evangelical Covenant Church and will begin pursuing a license with ECC. I also grew to understand multiplication as central to the Gospel - really all churches must engage in developing and releasing leaders, who in turn do the same.
I will be meeting with the Elder Board to continue the conversation regarding strengthening Sanctuary and the timing of planting more Sanctuary churches. When the time is right, I will be ready! Thanks for sharing this journey with me. The ECC is not the only “home” I have found. To steal a quote from that renegade Goldilocks: Sanctuary Columbus Church fits just right!
Much Love to you this week, Nancy