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The Importance Of A Commitment To Church Planting

Michael Gatlin

Michael Gatlin

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We are asking every Vineyard church to make a public commitment to church planting over the next ten years. All along the way the Vineyard has been known as a church planting movement: A community of churches who reproduce our communities of faith and discipleship to the next neighborhood, town or city. We do this not because we think we’re the best church in town, rather we just really like who God has called us to be and we want to reach our friends, neighbors and family members with the life-changing great news—the gospel of the kingdom. In this next season of our journey together as the Vineyard, we are asking every church to make a commitment to reproduce our churches.

So, why make a commitment? What’s the big deal about making a public commitment towards this?

We believe that making a commitment is a pretty big deal. Commitment is a key to accomplishing anything in our lives. 

I honestly believe that making a commitment to the things we really care about is vitally important. We often make public commitments regarding the big stuff in our lives. We live this out in our personal lives and in our church communities. Child dedication is a public commitment to love and teach our kids towards relationship with God. Baptism is a public commitment of our experience of the resurrection power and presence of Christ.

When Brenda and I exchanged our marriage vows, it was not only a private and personal commitment, but we publicly verbalized this commitment in front of all sorts of people.

We currently make commitments to our banks, our gyms, our schools, our homeowners associations and, well…you get the idea. This is a normal part of our lives.

Here are some of the benefits of making a commitment to church planting:

A commitment to church planting will help us to find new resources.

As we’ve led our church over the years, we’ve noticed that an amazing thing happens whenever we take the lead to make a commitment towards something— we find resources that we weren’t aware of. Various resources that hadn’t been previously  identified become available to accomplish the vision.

Some people step up to serve in ways they previously hadn’t. Others offer money or equipment that is needed.

I have found that people’s hearts are moved by the commitment to extend ourselves to plant a new church in the neighboring town, and they seriously want to be involved.

A commitment to church planting will help us to realign the resources we already have.

Another thing that happens as we make a commitment is that we again look at all the resources we are currently using and we reevaluate the effectiveness of our efforts. We fine-tune our overall vision and strategies.

As our church communities grow or develop over time, we all find ourselves involved in things that are no longer helpful to our overall purpose and vision. As we’ve reevaluated throughout the years we made hard decisions to stop some activities that just weren’t helping to accomplish the vision we felt God had originally given to us.

And over and over again we’ve looked at all the various ways we are using the resources we already have and we look for ways to realign them towards accomplishing the new goals.

A commitment to church planting will help us stay dependent on God.

For me personally, I’ve discovered that if my focus is on myself, my resources, and my abilities, then I limit what I think I can accomplish. I can clearly see how I am just barely making it with what I already have (money, leaders, etc.), and so I tend to think that I can’t take on any more vision for new ministry.

But if my focus changes and I begin to focus on what God is inviting me into, the whole picture looks different. I find myself saying “yes” to him and constantly turning towards him for the resources I need to accomplish his vision. He is the one who commands me to “go and make disciples.” So I’m expecting that he’s the one with the resources to accomplish that.

We are asking every Vineyard church to make a fresh commitment to church planting. Make a public commitment at whatever level you feel God leading. Some churches are committing to planting a new church every single year—10 in 10. Others are committing to plant one, two or three in the next ten years. All we are asking is that you pray, ask God what he would like you to commit to, and then do it.

So how do we go about this?

Get in touch with God’s heart. Throughout the scriptures God’s heart rings loud and clear. He has always been calling a people to himself for the sake of the rest of the world. Bill Jackson’s study called, “Nothing’s Gonna Stop It,” is a great way to hear and see the trajectory of God’s heart for people in the pages of the bible.

Pray. We should always begin in prayer. I began by asking, “God, do you want our church to reproduce and to reach out to people in the next neighborhood, town or suburb?”

And then I asked, “God, how many churches would you like our church to plant?” Over the years I’ve discovered that my specific prayers for specific issues bring specific answers. This may seem obvious to many of us, but I need to hear it again and again. When I ask God to help me be better at prayer for healing in general, I generally don’t see much happen as a result. But when I ask God to highlight specific people for me to interact with today who need to experience the resurrection power of Jesus today, I generally get to pray for folks.

We just want to do the same thing with our church multiplication efforts. When I asked God how many churches he would want the Duluth Vineyard to plant over the next ten years, I just couldn’t get away from the number ten. And as I shared what I thought God might be saying with our leadership and staff, they all agreed. They even got excited and began to sign up to help.

I can almost guarantee that the number he will give you, that you will be afraid to share it publicly. He always invites me into more than I think I can handle. And then you will want to sign up with the rest of your brothers and sisters in the Vineyard. Let us join with you in prayer. Let us encourage one another, challenge one another, help each other along this journey.

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