I have posted a few other times this year in relation to the Lord directing us to join with a group of folks in Rolleston for the purpose of establishing a new church.
I thought I might share a bit about how we have proceeded in this effort thus far. This is not an attempt to outline a one-size-fits all philosophy to church planting. Some may read this and think we have lost our minds. Others may clearly identify weaknesses to our approach. Someone may find this helpful. Mostly, it may serve those who are currently part of this work along with future members of Rolleston Baptist Church.
You will notice through this my conviction that “it’s churches that plant churches”.
For several years a couple of families from Grace Baptist Church in Christchurch have lived in Rolleston and sought to reach out to their community with the gospel of Christ in both word and deed. Over the past couple of years the Lord added to their number families from two other Christchurch churches – St. John’s & St. Saviour’s. These families met together regularly for fellowship, established three area Bible Studies, and ran a Sunday afternoon service for several months in the local Community Centre. Sometime in 2013 the the ministers from Grace Baptist & St. John’s along with six families all living in Rolleston, after much prayer and consultation decided to proceed in a plan to establish a church in Rolleston. Grace Baptist would serve as the “mother church” in this, other area churches would lend support and encouragement, a local Christian trust committed finances to help pay the stipend for a pastor during the early establishment phase of the church… the group needed a pastor.
In early 2014 I was contacted by the elders of Grace Baptist asking if I would consider a call to be appointed as the Church Planting Pastor of Rolleston Baptist Church. This is where the specifics of our approach may differ from some of the ideas you find in most of the popular church planting books.
Once my family & I reached the place where I was able to confidently answer this call in the affirmative the elders of Grace Baptist & I discussed a plan for how this would unfold.
Here is a brief outline of that plan:
- I would be appointed as an elder at Grace Baptist Church. This took place on 17 August 2014. This was done to more officially demonstrate the links between Grace Baptist and the new church. In addition it provides clear accountability for me as the pastor of RBC and for the progress of the church in these early days.
- I would be formally commissioned and appointed as the pastor of Rolleston Baptist Church (RBC) by Grace Baptist Church. This took place on 31 August 2014. Seeing that RBC doesn’t technically exist as a church but only as a group of believers who are meeting together informally, Grace Baptist is the existing church serving to confirm my qualification, gifting and calling to this work.
- We would begin services for RBC in our home for a period of time. Part of the reason for this early stage would be to establish ourselves (we are eight families with three young adults – 35 people including children) as a church, formally. As a Baptist Church this will require, at least:
- Clarifying and affirming a Statement of Faith
- Clarifying and affirming a Constitution
- Clarifying and affirming some key items of practice (e.g. Baptism, Lord’s Supper, Members’ Meetings) [At the writing of this post (30 Sept. 2014) we are in the process of working through these three steps. Lord willing in the coming month or so we will reach a point when we will hold a special service where the following will take place.]
- Formally establishing membership where we would all officially join the church taking a Membership Covenant, and formally affirming our Articles of Faith.
- Appointing elder(s) assuming the presence of, at least, one who is Biblically qualified and willing to serve in this office.
- Appointing deacon(s) assuming the presence of, at least, one who is Biblically qualified and willing to serve in this office.
- At this point we will be a “constituted” church with formal membership, established doctrinal basis, and qualified/appointed leadership. Lord willing this will also be the time when we will begin meeting more publicly in a hired, local venue.
- From this point, anyone who begins attending RBC and desires to join the church will be taken through a series of “studies” where we will walk through our Articles of Faith and Constitution seeking to serve the unity of the church by helping to ensure anyone who enters into membership, understands who we are as a church and why we approach the life of the church the way we do.
The above process is purposeful as our primary desire is to honour Christ not only in what we do and teach, but how we conduct ourselves as a church. No process will guarantee an avoidance of struggle. We pray the Lord will bless these feeble efforts.
Here are a few other past blog posts on the church which may shed further light on my thinking and convictions for any interested:
Lord willing in the very near future the website for Rolleston Baptist Church will be “active & live” providing more information about us.