Church Extension Ministries is facing a significant problem that could severely impact its future ministry and development. What could be so important that it deserves an article and discussion? The problem can be expressed in one word – success. You are thinking, that’s crazy. Did you say success? How can success be a problem?
Success means different things to different organizations. In the case of Church Extension Ministries, it means the accomplishment of our assigned tasks. We are a department of the Bible Fellowship Church. The vision of the Bible Fellowship Church is to be a growing fellowship of churches united to make disciples of Jesus Church. How Church Extension Ministries fits into this vision is in the words, “a growing fellowship of churches.” Their task is to plant new churches and incorporate existing churches into the fellowship. So, you may ask, how is it going? It is going well.
At the 2023 Bible Fellowship Conference, three churches were recognized as particular churches. It has been a while since three new churches were graduated from mission status. But, that’s not the end of the story. God is raising up several more Mission Churches and a Connecting church for graduation and presentation to Conference over the next two years. That’s six and possibly seven new churches in two years. Success. Be sure to understand that no one is bragging. Rather, this is to recognize what God is doing in our denomination and its church-planting ministry. Success!
Another dimension of the success problem is facilities. At least four of our current missions need larger meeting places. You probably know about the issues with real estate. Finding meeting places for a growing congregation with limited funds is really tough, frustrating and expensive. God is using our mission churches to reach their communities and that means more people show up, which creates a need for more meeting room. So why should success be a problem? Each of these new churches and the church planter who served there were supported by some of you. The cost of planting a new church is over $500,000. Yes, you read that correctly. The goal is to graduate a church in five years. The need for finances includes a salary for the church planter, facilities and program expenses. Church planting is not cheap, minimally $100,000 per year. The churches that graduate are supported by churches and individuals who give generously to provide the funds necessary. So, what’s the problem? When a church graduates, their supporting churches and individuals pat themselves on the back and think they are done. They can take church planting out of the budget and lighten the their own financial load.
But, that’s not the end. The work is not complete when a church is formed. Yes, the formation of a new church is a reason to celebrate but not to stop giving. Jesus said, …I will build My church… (Matt.16:18) There are never too many churches. So, we must press on. Our task will not be over until Jesus returns.
What is better than success? It is continuing to accept the challenge of giving to support the work of church planting in the Bible Fellowship Church. The churches and individuals who supported churches that no longer need their support should consider a new commitment. And, if anyone is reading this who is not involved in a church plant, think about committing to the work of church planting.
What does commitment to church planting look like? First, it shows in a commitment to pray. That is a no-brainer for folks like you. Pray for the needed resources – funds, more committed church planters, and identified opportunities. Second, encourage your church to include church planting in its budget if it is not already there. If it is not there, create a new line. Third, consider becoming personally involved. You could be part of the teams that are needed if a church is started near you.
Success is going to bring more of the problems we talked about. But those problems are welcome because they show that we are doing what God has raised us up to do. Lord, send more of those success problems!
article by Richard Taylor, Mentoring Assistant for Church Extension Ministries and Chairman of the Board of Church Extension