Considerations for Joining a Church Plant
These considerations were offered by Pastor Dan Miller to the members of Eden Baptist Church in May 2016 as preliminary groundwork for helping certain members discern the Lord’s direction regarding their potential involvement with a church plant. The points have been altered slightly to reflect their general application to churches in any context who may be facing a similar situation. No single point is necessarily determinative or personally applicable. They aim merely to help individuals reason through the decision to remain as a member of their current church or to join the church plant. As in every missionary initiative, most will stay, some will go, but all should strive to honor the Savior’s will. We pray this document serves your church as it has served ours.
Lean toward remaining a member of your local church if …
- You sense no particular compulsion to leave your church. You are confident the Lord is pleased for you to continue growing under the Word in your current church context. You desire to continue partnering in the mission to strengthen that church as a base of operation from which to support church planting and worldwide gospel enterprise into the future. [If you affirm this point, the considerations to follow will likely have little or no relevance to you].
- You are fulfilling a unique ministry role in your church that would be crippled by your departure. This is not to say Christ needs anyone to fill any position in his church. It is not to say a day will never come when you are able to leave your ministry in the hands of others. But if you are relatively assured that leaving your church will significantly harm that ministry, proceed cautiously and with ample counsel.
- You are growing rapidly in the ministry of your church. God is opening your eyes to truth in a fresh way. Perhaps you were somewhat recently baptized as a new believer or you are thriving in a fresh way as a long-time believer who more recently joined this church. If God is uniquely using this church to grow you, it may be wise not to interrupt what he is doing right now.
- You are languishing spiritually in the ministry of your church. It is vital that you address this matter before joining the church plant.
- You are motivated to join the new church because of some discontentment with your current church. You may be motivated to escape a challenging relationship, angling to get involved in a ministry you have not been granted opportunity to currently fulfill, hoping to influence the direction of the new church unlike you’ve been able to presently influence, or you simply invite a change of scenery. Such motivations are not only insufficient to warrant the move, they may well undermine the health of the church plant.
- Your willingness to identify with the new church is largely motivated by a sense of guilt or dutiful obligation. Such faulty motivations will weaken both churches.
- Joining the church plant would complicate your commute to church. If you find yourself wishing your current church were closer to home, and if additional driving would only increase that distance, lean toward remaining with your current church family.
Lean toward joining the church plant if …
- You have grown increasingly convinced that Jesus would be pleased for you to join the new church.
- You have a genuine interest in identifying with the new church, but are actively seeking and willingly heeding the counsel of other members and the shepherds of your current church. You are willing to remain a member should others advise you that staying would better serve the cause of Christ.
- You view the decision to covenant in membership with the church plant as a long-term commitment, not a matter of trying the new church on for size. You long to join a solid core of dependable members who will serve the Lord together for years to come.
- You fully realize the new church will face many challenges, and not a few hardships over the years and you are committed to facing those trials in reliance on the Lord and in partnership with your fellow members.
- You have no unresolved relational problems at your current church that should be addressed before leaving. You are able to leave your church with a clear conscience and with thanksgiving to God for its ministry.
- You live in close proximity to the church plant or are willing to move nearby someday in order to better minister with the new church.