What to Expect When You’re Expecting (a Church): Birthing a New Church Is Not Without Pain

A mother church experiences stress when birthing. The pains are physical, spiritual, emotional, and financial. Starting a new church sounds exciting, but a church needs to prepare for this birth in some similar ways that a mother prepares for a new baby.

Having a Baby Creates Challenges

A mother church needs to expect to go through the rollercoaster challenges of mothering. Simply put, there’s going to be some confusion and conflict. Churches are not always prepared for how demanding birthing a new church is.

When Donna was in her final days of her third trimester with one of our daughters, she would ask (often through gritted, and smiling, teeth), “What did you do to me?” When she was delivering, she said, well, more things!

It’s a good thing children are so cute, because mom soon forgets about the pain and surprisingly they often want to have another one. Having a child is strenuous, but it’s amazing. (Isn’t there something in John’s gospel about this?)

It’s difficult and it’s often messy.

Just like Donna was (jokingly) mad, sometimes that “mothering pain” can really strain relationships.

When I was a seminary professor, one class researched 10 different churches planted by a mother church. Seven of the 10 had broken relationships with their mother church by the time they launched.

That is not a representative sample by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a significant example. A mother church has to expect difficulty and plan in advance for a proper response.

Here are three ways that I think mother churches can have a healthy birth of a new church.

Develop Church Planting Champions

A mother church needs two key champions to effectively plant a new church. Obviously, the lead pastor has to be a champion for church planting. The other champion can be an individual—perhaps the planter in sending—or it might be a task force, committee or church planting team that advocates for church planting.

Designating advocates for the mission of church planting and for the church planter can alleviate some of the struggles. The planter needs to have a point person to communicate their needs to the mother church.

Establish a Commitment Between Churches

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SOURCE: Christianity Today The Exchange – Ed Stetzer