One of my colleagues recently had his second child. As we were preparing this month’s Leadership Link on Church Planting, I realized a couple’s birth plan is an excellent metaphor for churches who want to be “church-planting” churches.
Unfamiliar with birth plans? It’s ok. Many people are. They help the mother (and father) take initiative in planning how the baby’s arrival will go. It allows them to be intentional about how things will happen, what things won’t, and what things are negotiable. (It should be noted that the birth plan is an imperfect metaphor and obviously not meant to be treated as “equal” to child birth.)
Here are a few reasons why I believe churches should also have a birth plan.
1) Birth Plans Infuse Intentionality
If your church isn’t intentionally planning to plant other churches, it likely won’t. I’m afraid too many pastors leave church planting up to spontaneous combustion or for others to do.
2) Birth Plans Help Prepare Those Involved
No man can imagine the pain and struggle of childbirth; however, planning for what will occur helps to prepare.
Churches who plan for planting to occur will increase their likelihood of enduring the difficult process of planting churches. Birth plans prepare God’s people for the eventual day when people will leave, ministries will change, and faith will be tested.
3) Birth Plans Identify Risks
Before engaging in an endeavor as important as church planting, you should do a risk assessment. This includes planter assessment, viability of the church, impact on the sending church, etc. Anything less is, at a minimum, risky stewardship.
4) Birth Plans Force Us to Accept Responsibility
Many pastors are not planters. That’s okay. But it’s not okay to avoid missional ministry that seeks to multiply kingdom minded churches around the globe (and at home).
5) Birth Plans Identify the Inevitable
If we’ve never made a commitment to church planting, what makes us think we ever will? If we identify church planting as a core part of our ethos, we will increase the chances of doing it.
6) Birth Plans Protect the Mother and Child’s Health
If you plant without a plan, you are planning to plant poorly. Protect the sending church and the church plant by faithfully planning how the sender and the sent will be sent.
7) Birth Plans Stimulate Spiritual Vitality
Objects that are stagnant tend to stay that way. Objects that are moving tend to keep going. If you want your people to be “on the move” and growing, you should plan for your church to be sending and multiplying. A culture of planting ignites innovation and transformation as people realize they and their church will constantly change.
What other benefits do you see to having a birth plan?
What’s your greatest stumbling block from creating a birth plan now for your church?
photo credit: Steve Bowbrick