Starting a church from the ground up, even with a team of volunteers, means that most church planters are the only people on staff. It can be a lonely call. Reach out and connect with the church planters in your classis or town. Check in on their families and invite them to your pastoral support circles. Meet up online or call them. If you don’t know of any church plants nearby, contact the Church Multiplication office for an introduction.
Church plants are typically very different from established churches. They are more likely to have new believers and seekers. They may be in economically vulnerable settings or niches of society that are often overlooked. Ask a church planter how they’re doing. Ask where they see God at work. Ask what opportunities they see in the midst of this crisis. Ask what you can learn from their experiences and how they’re responding during this crisis.
Pray for and with the church planter and have them pray for you. Let them hear you bring their needs and people before God. Ask that they pray for your church, too. Use this crisis to support each other in prayer, asking God to do in each setting what only God can do.
The COVID-19 crisis may hit church plants harder than established churches. Church plants rarely have cash reserves or assets to liquidate. Most do not own their own buildings, and they cannot control when/if they meet because they rent space. Church plants are often dependent on the support of sending churches, classes, and regions who are also struggling financially right now, so offer whatever you can. Offer a church planter the use of your video camera so they can record their service. Offer the extra Zoom account you purchased, or help set up a Facebook page. Offer office space (keeping safe distance) to the planter since they cannot meet in a coffee shop during a shutdown. Offer a few hours of time from someone on your staff. It would bless the planter and help keep your staff employed.
None of us know the future. We don’t know how long we will be affected by the COVID-19 crisis, and we won’t know the lasting impacts for years to come. While we are all navigating a new normal, partner with a planter. Church planters are gifted evangelists and have experience with folks who don’t usually come to church. They know their neighborhoods intimately and might know of community needs and opportunities of which you are unaware. Partner with a church planter to better reach your community. Partner as you each provide pastoral care to your people or those who are scared and may be taking their first steps toward faith.
Tricia Bouma serves as the Church Multiplication operations manager for the Reformed Church in America. You can connect with Tricia by email at email@example.com.