National Magazine of the Lutheran Church of Australia

What is church planting and why do it?

March 2020

The LCA/NZ’s New and Renewing Churches department exists to serve the kingdom of God by facilitating church planting and renewal. International research indicates that denominations need to plant new congregations at a rate of three per cent per year, just to remain constant. New and Renewing Churches’ desire for a five per cent growth in congregations equates to 23 new churches per year. The LCA/NZ’s Executive Officer – Local Mission Dr Tania Nelson puts that target in perspective. ‘Is that ambitious?’, she asks. ‘Absolutely. But let’s not underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit!’

What does New and Renewing Churches do?

  • Assists churches to begin, evaluate or progress their journey in church planting.
  • Works with local church leaders and pastors to build church planting capacity.
  • Provides resources, training opportunities, conferences and a supportive network for church planters and missional communities. The aim is to mobilise the whole church in the work of seeing new believers come to Christ – and to see mature churches that plant churches as the norm.
  • Works with local congregations and agencies of the church to help them assess opportunities for church planting and provides mentorship for church leaders and pastors on this journey.
  • Walks with missional communities and church planters as they establish new groups of believers.
  • Aims to help local congregations and agencies discern what the Spirit is saying as they seek to follow him.

What does church planting look like in the LCA/NZ?

  • Our approach incorporates three key elements: a sending church, a church planning team and mentoring in the field.
  • Experience and international research both show that these elements are essential.

What is a sending church?

  • A sending church is a ‘mother’ church.
  • It both nurtures the missional communities from which the church planting team is formed, and supports the ‘toddler’ church until it is formally launched as its own entity.
  • And at that time, the ‘daughter’ church is already planning to plant again! (As, we hope, will be the ‘mother’ church!)
  • The first phase of sending church preparation is all about the missional leadership of the congregation; the second phase rolls that out to the wider congregation; and the third phase develops missional communities from which the church planting team(s) will be formed.
  • Research also shows that sending churches receive an enormous benefit from the church planting venture.
  • The sending church journey is described in the booklet Church Planting: Plant Water Grow, which you can access through the department webpages (lca.org.au/new-and-renewing-churches) on the New Churches page.

What is a partner church?

  • Not all congregations are able to be a sending church. So partner churches are just that, partners in the mission of church planting.
  • That partnership is expressed in prayer, practical support, personal relationships and participating in ministry support of the new churches.
  • Our goal is to see every congregation in the LCA/NZ understand itself as either a sending church or a partner church.
  • For more information about partner churches see ‘Partner Churches’ via this question on the New and Renewing Churches webpages.

Planting 230 churches in 10 years. Isn’t that ambitious?

  • Actually, no. It’s impossible.
  • That’s why we need your prayers, participation and the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
  • The vision is as bold as it is because it needs to be. Let’s not underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit in this.
  • A missional culture change is underway and we are confident that the LCA/NZ will see a growth of sending churches and partner churches and a corresponding growth of church plants.

Who is going to lead our church plants?

  • The leaders of the church plant will emerge as a result of the training and support provided to the sending church.
  • The LCA/NZ is actively developing pathways for new leaders, identified by gifting, to receive training. They also receive on-the-ground mentoring.
  • The sending church retains oversight of the church plant until such time as the church plant wishes to be a congregation in its own right.
  • We’ve already seen a significant number of young church planters identified within the LCA/NZ and we expect that to increase in the coming years.

How can my congregation get involved in church planting?

In the first instance, speak to Pastor Noel Due (Pastor for New and Renewing Churches) via noel.due@lca.org.au