The Missouri District has been blessed with several church plants over the years. Spreading the Gospel in Pacific, Missouri is Rev. Joe Sullivan, lead pastor at New Beginnings Lutheran Church, who has been involved with a variety of church plants. Here are some of his experiences with church planting.
Churches Plant Churches Already established churches are naturally great starting places and foundations from which church plants can grow. New Beginnings engages in helping a variety of church plants, but they are also a church plant.
Build Relationships First, Structures Second Pastor Sullivan says the goal was to go out and meet people. Casual meetups turned into conversations over dinner. Then there would be opportunities like swapping favorite books and having conversations about what was read. As time passes, one on one gatherings would grow into a small group of friends meeting up. That then transfers very easily to an invitation like, “You know, we’ve been talking about theology a lot. Why doesn’t our group meet and talk about our faith and the Book of John?”
It’s a Nonlinear Process For Pastor Sullivan in the early days of planting New Beginnings, “My measure of success was every day I asked myself, ‘Did I talk to somebody about Jesus today?’” Physically, the location of the church can change. For Pastor Sullivan and the early days of New Beginnings, coming together for “church” started by meeting at people’s homes. They had 12 different home groups going. By the time 11 months passed, they had their first Sunday evening worship service. There were 53 people in attendance, 12 of which were attending because of evangelism efforts. The other 41 were members of their parent church St. Mark’s in Eureka, who came in support. Fast forward five years and there was a different mix in participants. The different demographics could roughly be divided into thirds among Baptists and Methodists, members of St. Mark’s, and those unchurched. (Unchurched being those who didn’t have a church home for more than six months.)
It’s in the Great Commission Church planting can have challenges, as Pastor Sullivan notes, “You have to bath everything in prayer, every step of the way.” But ultimately it’s all part of the Great Commission. “Are you excited to see people come to know Jesus?” Asks Pastor Sullivan. “If you’re excited, then why wouldn’t you do it?... Know Him and make Him known.”
If your congregation would like to consider/discuss church planting in your region, consider contacting Rev. Bill Geis at firstname.lastname@example.org.