At first, church planting can feel daunting for pastors, elders and lay leaders. Some people imagine expensive buildings, mission developers and intense volunteerism and it can feel overwhelming. So it might surprise you that nearly all of the 13 of the congregations who participated in our recent Churches Planting Churches workshop have less than 100 people in worship and four of them are served by vacancy pastors.
Each congregations had previously worked with District staff, circuit forums and Plus One coaches exploring opportunities to multiply missions over the past year. Churches Planting Churches brought together people from these churches and organized them into workgroups, who spent two days planning new ministries with 12 biblical principles of ministry multiplication.
Multiplication is a concept at the heart of the Missouri District philosophy of missions. Multiplication is healthy in people, organizations and congregations. Dr. Peter Meier, Executive Director for the Center for United States Missions, facilitated the process with these congregations. In an informal evening kickoff, Dr. Meier shared stories of small churches all over the LCMS who multiplied ministry.
Dr. Meier says, “It was wonderful to see how the participants integrated the concepts we taught into vision and planning for their target neighborhoods and groups. President Hagan’s participation was most encouraging, and Pastor Geis’ work in following up with the participant teams and leaders will lead to new faith communities in the Missouri District.”
Duane Moudy, president of Faith Lutheran in Springfield who hosted the
conference recalled, “I saw excitement in the churches. We need to hear the stories of multiplication and mission.” He added, “the Biblical principles united and inspired ideas as we worked together.” The experience gave him a new perspective for his church and their church plant in nearby Ozark, Missouri. He says, “I’m convinced we need to be more connected to church planting. I believe multiplication is the best way for churches to reach their communities.”
One shared ministry involves congregations in Marshfield, Rader and Digger, with their attendees all working together in one learning cohort. Kathy
McGovern from Rader recalled how this church grew by planting several
churches from Springfield to Lebanon in the 19th century. She says, “our church isn’t planting right now, but now we are working together with other churches to plant new ministries that would not have happened if it were not for this workshop.” Over the course of the two day conference, the churches drafted a plan to engage public school districts throughout Webster County together.
The Churches Planting Churches participants formed eight learning cohorts and worked through a process together. The two-day event included training and gave participants the chance to apply the 12 biblical principles to their own context. The congregations involved were considering everything from revitalization plans, shared ministries to rural and small towns, outreach to schools and more. After working through the process with Rev. Bill Geis, Assistant to the President for Missions, and Missouri District President Lee Hagan, participants gave presentations to the entire group about their plans.
Upon returning home, each group with work with a coach from the Center for United States Mission, which like the conference itself, will be funded by the Missouri District. It’s the goal of the Missouri District to offer this conference every August. To that end, the district is providing training for three pastors to be able to lead Churches Planting Churches in future years.