Last week I attended a church planting conference at Moore College with some friends. The event was well-attended with around 150 participants. I interacted with Anglican, Presbyterian, Baptist and a few Pentecostal ministers. While we obviously would not agree on various doctrines, I found the meeting to be helpful and informative, balancing practical advice with theological issues.
One helpful session came from Queensland minister Phil Campbell of Michelton Presbyterian Church (MPC). His goal is to help nurture a network of “clear, Christ-centred churches around Brisbane’s northside.” Having planted or revitalized several churches, Phil offered his perspective on the relationship between a mother church and its daughter church.
1. It is sad and hard to send away some of the best people to the new church. MPC has repeatedly released workers to other ministries, recently sending about 30 people to plant another church.
2. There are conflicts in expectations. Some observers expect the church plant to be a mini version of a perfectly functioning church, with an established ministry structure and eldership. The mother church may initially expect an ongoing warm relationship within “one church,” yet the new churches have gradually disengaged from the resourcing church.
3. “We must decrease so they can increase.” By strategically planting or revitalizing local churches in its own region, MPC has also reduced its own geographical area of ministry, painting itself in a corner.
4. How many to send? The resourcing church must rebuild its leadership and core group after planting a new church. This process is costly.
5. Lost momentum: with churches being planted or revitalized, there is sometimes a sense within MPC that the excitement is elsewhere.
This church demonstrates the importance of intention — to deliberately envision and organize strategy to advance the Gospel locally, under God’s providence. Also, such intention involves sending people and resources, which can strain the church. Yet by God’s grace, their deliberate and sacrificial approach has effectively sparked new churches.