When most people hear the word "missionary" they probably imagine a Christian worker in a faraway land who is trying to adapt to a new culture while also trying to share the Gospel with the indigenous people. Church planters, in many ways, view themselves as missionaries because they have to know the people and the culture they are trying to reach in order to effectively share the message of Jesus Christ.
Five years ago, Jack Thomas and his wife began to feel called away from their home in Washington, D.C., to start a new church plant in Pittsburgh, Pa. After serving as staff members at Allison Park Church near Pittsburgh for several months, they moved to the city's Southside community and started LifeStone Church.
Before officially launching the church, however, Thomas wanted to make it clear to the local residents that he wasn't just trying to build a church, but that he was genuinely there to help people. more >>
Megachurch pastor Billy Hybels' first five years of establishing a church in a Chicago suburb was one of the hardest experiences in his life, he told Christian leaders at the Exponential conference.
"I did a lot of scrambling. In the first five years it was like 25, 100-yard dashes a day," Hybels told those attending the second day of the three-day church planting conference at First Baptist Church Orlando.
Hybels, 60, founded Willow Creek Community Church 37 years ago. He led services at Palatine's Willow Creek Theater before the church moved six years later to its current location in South Barrington, Ill. more >>
Christian leaders with a heart for church planting are being encouraged at the Exponential conference to move past the difficulties they will encounter when they start their houses of worship.
Church planting is not for the faint of heart, say organizers of the three-day conference, which began Tuesday at First Baptist Church Orlando. More than 4,000 new churches start each year, which means upwards of 20,000 planters are "in the trenches in years 1-5, many of whom are discouraged and have considered quitting," according to information on the conference website.
The conference theme is "Sifted," emphasizing the church planter's spiritual, physical, and emotional health as the "very foundation for reproducing." more >>
In many towns across the U.S., you can locate a number of well-established churches simply by looking for their steeples. But many church plants, including the one I serve, will meet in a variety of different (and usually not ideal) locations before they establish themselves in a building of their own.
Chris Priestley is the senior pastor of Crossroads Church, a church plant that meets in Westover, W. Va., just outside the college town of Morgantown. The church began five years ago while he was still living in Charleston, and every weekend he would drive two-and-a-half hours to be part of it. When it first began, their meeting location didn't even have walls.
"We started with 20 guys in a picnic shelter along the river, so you're dodging goose poop and all that kind of stuff. It was just nuts," he said laughing. more >>
A look into the ancestral family history of Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren produced for an episode of the PBS series "Finding Your Roots" revealed at least two big surprises for the renowned evangelical leader.
The program's host, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., was able to show through genealogical research that Warren had several relatives rooted in church leadership positions dating back to the nation's founding.
However, perhaps more shocking was the discovery of a great grandfather dating back three generations with a profession viewed as less than admirable today – a slave owner. more >>
The church planting group Acts 29 Network will keep its mission focused in the same manner as before despite a recent change in leadership, said the group's new president, Matt Chandler.
"There's no vision shift here. It is a location shift and a restructuring," Chandler, also lead pastor of The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas, told The Christian Post. "I want us to keep doing what we are doing. I want us to keep planting churches and being on mission and do that in a way that is edifying and encouraging to our network. I'd like to see us be able to do that more effectively and more efficiently.
"My hope is steadfastly to continue to plant churches that make much of Jesus, that lift up on high the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and see men and women saved by that message." more >>