Go ahead. Admit it…what’s the first thought that comes to your mind when you think about planting a church? What about starting a missional community in your neighborhood? When you read an ECO blog about the experience of church planter assessment? What about when you hear stories of plants that have started through ECO? I’m going to take a wild guess that when you hear anything about planting, your first response is, “I’m all for it…but I could never do that!”
If you have been around ECO for any amount of time, you’ve heard about our passion to plant. It’s in our DNA.
I’m the first to admit that over the years of missional conversation, and now working with planters who are going through assessment, I have thought the exact same thing. Too stressful. Too much pressure. How in the world would I feed my family?! Who has the time? Who has the energy? I don’t have the right church planter jeans/glasses/shirt/boots. I don’t even Instagram, let alone tweet! What if it fails!?
Take a deep breath, and don’t write off the possibility yet. Because here are three things you need to know about planting with ECO:
If you love Jesus and you love His people, that’s a great place to start. What a huge relief to know it’s not all about you and me. It’s about meeting God where He is already at work. Jesus is already at work on your street. Jesus is at work in your office and at your gym. Jesus is at work in your child’s classroom and on the track where you meet your friends to power walk every morning, and at the park where you walk your dog every night. Jesus is at work outside the walls of the traditional church. Are you open to looking for Christ, joining Him on the journey, and helping to point others toward Him?
As you well know, staying connected is an invaluable part of ministry! But did you know ECO has church planting networks in every presbytery across the country? And all of our planters in those presbyteries are wonderful, gifted people in different stages of the process who are all willing to reach out and connect with others. So, if you have questions, do not hesitate to let us know—we’ll put you in touch with a planter! Some are just starting out. Some are tent-making. Some are raising support. Some have launched worship services. Some have completed assessment and are working on further training. We have planters in rural communities and cities. But all of them are people who listen to God, love Jesus, and are open to being used by God.
We don’t just talk about what a good idea it would be to start new churches. It is happening. From Washington to LA to Arkansas to Florida and in between, core groups and communities are forming. And they need leaders. Every week we are hearing from more people across the country who desire for their communities to be a part of ECO. They want to know how to get started and if we know of anyone who might want to plant in their area. If you were at the National Gathering this year, you even saw people in matching shirts looking for planters! It’s exciting to see what God is doing among us. Know and be encouraged by the way planting is gaining major momentum in ECO!
Maybe God is calling you to plant. Really. Imagine what God could do! Maybe you’re a seminary student who is graduating this year and loves the possibility of what God could do through a missional community in your city. Or speaking of seminary, now may even be the time to check out Fuller’s new Certificate in Church Planting (this group of classes can be built off of if you’re interested in getting an MDiv.). Maybe you’ve been in an established church for years and God has been nudging you to start pursuing a new adventure with Him. Maybe God is calling you to start something new in addition to your current secular career. Our prayer is that you would listen to God. Listen to where God may be calling you. You just never know.
If you are feeling called to plant, or are wondering if you are feeling called to plant, or wondering if you should start wondering if you are called to plant, contact me or contact our office. We would love to talk about it with you.
Let me offer you a hint, free of charge: If you’re praying about planting, it’s better to attend assessment sooner rather than later. You may need some additional time for coaching or training for example, in order to be prepared to start something new. In the meantime, pick up some brilliant Tim Keller, and/or Alan Hirsch wisdom to read. Seek God’s guidance. Talk to supervisors, friends, people you mentor, and spend time with people who know you well. Above all else, pray.
We would be honored to join you in praying as well, and know what a privilege it is that our great God would use His ordinary people, in every day circumstances, to start new communities that desire to serve Him and make disciples! Let us know how we can encourage you. You never know…we may even help you set up your very own Twitter account!
Rev. Beth Allin has a Masters of Divinity from Fuller Seminary and a BA in Sociology from Westmont College. Her favorite part of ministry is being able to be on the journey with people and point them toward Christ. Beth is currently the Church Planting Assessment Coordinator for ECO. She lives in Santa Barbara, CA, with her husband Dana and their three kids. They also have two guinea pigs, one of whom may be pregnant.