Ever had the feeling as a church leader that you wish you could just start over? Considering a church replant might be the opportunity to do just that. But be certain of this direction before you begin walking the path.
If your reason to replant is to preserve the legacy of the current church, or you consider it as a last ditch effort to keep things going and save the church from closing, then I would advise you either rethink your reasons, or not venture into replanting at all. Replanting a church should be based on kingdom purposes, not maintaining a heritage.
So, how does a replant happen? Carefully and prayerfully, that’s how.
When God gives the vision of replanting, you can be certain that he will guide you and bring about exactly what needs to happen when it needs to happen. Meanwhile, a great deal of preparation is required. There is a process taking place, a process of informing, communicating, and educating.
Discussions and Conversations
Approach trusted key people to informally share the idea of replanting. These people would be individuals who are in formal leadership positions, such as staff, elders, deacons, etc. But it would also include wise individuals who are “people of peace” in the church family whose counsel is valued. If a replant is God’s direction, you will not have to persuade others. You will find that these people have either been thinking along similar lines, or they are open to the idea. You may discover that God has already been at work in them as well. If you encounter a hesitancy to such a move, wait. Be patient. It still may be God’s plan, but the timing is not now.
Prayerfully seek what God wants to bring about. We know our mission is clear: to display and declare the glory of God and to make disciples who make disciples. Don’t think so much in terms of where God is sending you, but to whom God is sending you. Once you know who, God will give you the how. You will find yourself delving into the Word like never before. Be open to fresh expressions of church and alternative methodologies. You will be revisiting your ecclesiology and missiology, and reaffirming your Christology.
Begin leading the congregation as a whole toward the replant. Teach and model what you desire to see in the people who join you. Continue informal conversations answering questions and addressing concerns. Let your trusted leadership help with this phase. Make sure you and your team are communicating together well so you are all presenting a unified message.
Some Final Thoughts
Do not rush. Give people time and opportunity to give input. But at the same time, do not delay out of fear of what certain individuals think or say. A larger, older church may be slower to adapt to the mission of replanting than a smaller, younger church. Don’t expect everyone to buy into the move. I’ve found there will be three groups, particularly when it comes to older churches in a replant situation. One group believes the replant is what needs to happen, and they give it their blessing, but do not feel they can or should make the move themselves. A second group simply won’t understand or appreciate the reasons for a replant no matter how carefully it’s discussed and tactfully it’s approached. The third group is supportive and thoroughly ready to go.
A church replant is not for the faint of heart. At times you will wonder if you’re doing the right thing. You will second guess your choices. These are times when God gives confirmation at just the right moments and often from unexpected sources. Successful church plants experience renewed purpose and have amazing gospel impact.