I recently became aware of a Twitter feed called #thatstoolong. It’s a place where people can go to talk about things that take too long, whether it be wait time at the DMV, the time since visiting their favorite relative, how many weeks since they visited their favorite restaurant, or how long their least favorite politician has occupied office. We tend to be an impatient society, so I’m sure we could all add many items to the growing Twitter list of things that take too long.
In 2017, we saw 21 new Colorado church plants. That is a reason to celebrate! As 2017 ended, Colorado’s population was 5,540,000. At a pace of 20 or so church plants per year, it will take 50 years to plant enough churches to saturate Colorado with the Gospel. #thatstoolong. Add in about 10% per year population growth, and it would take over 75 years to plant a sufficient amount of churches. #thatswaytoolong!
What if we could double the amount of churches we plant each year? Then, we would see those churches planted in 20-25 years. That’s still a long time, but not so long that many of us would still be around to see it happen.
We need to reach the place where we are planting 40 or more churches every year in Colorado. This is not about numbers, this is about our neighbors’ eternal souls. Every year the majority of Coloradoans who pass into eternity, do so without knowing the Savior. The longer it takes for us to plant churches, the more people leave this world without Christ.
Jonathan Ferre, planter of Iglesia Gracia y Verdad in Colorado Springs, recently related the story of Rafael. A lady visiting IGV in December asked Jonathan to visit a friend of hers, Rafael, who was in the hospital with terminal cancer. Rafael, a native of Guatemala, had been here for three years. Jonathan visited Rafael in the hospital and shared the Gospel. Rafael accepted Christ! Five days later Rafael returned to Guatemala and six days afterward passed into eternity. Rafael’s story is a stark reminder of the frailty of human life, mankind’s need for a Savior, and the imperative nature of sharing the Gospel.
I believe within a couple of years we can get to the place where we are planting 40 or more churches every year. It will not be an easy task, but it is an incredibly important task. Here are what I see as the keys to planting more churches.
An Increased Number of Church Planters
Admittedly, this is the equation’s most difficult part. To be a church planter requires a call from God. Therefore, we can’t just go out and start picking people to lead church plants. What we can do is pray that God will call out church planters. We have been praying Luke 10:2 for many years, “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest fields.” I ask you to join us in praying daily that God would send out church planters to Colorado’s harvest fields. One easy way to do this is set your alarm for 10:02 every morning as reminder to pray.
An Increased Focus on Intentional Bivocationalism
Sustainability is very important in church planting. The goal is for a church plant to be self-sustaining in four to five years. In some cases, the plant’s context tells us that being self-sustaining in that time frame will be a challenge. Maybe the plant is in a small community. Maybe the economy of the community would not support a full-time salary. There are many other factors that might point to the need for a bivocational planter. Whatever the case may be, it is best to start with the end in mind. This means starting with a bivocational planter rather than making that transition later.
There are many Colorado communities where these scenarios play out, and not all are in rural Colorado. There are places along the Front Range where bivocational planters are needed. I believe there are people in pews God is wanting to call out to use their vocation as a platform to plant new churches. Our role is to 1) create an atmosphere that celebrates and validates God’s call on people who use their vocation to share the Gospel and plant new churches, and 2) give them the training and tools they need.
An Increased Number of Multiplying Churches
Multiplying Churches have an intentional process of training and sending out church planters. As we increase the number of Multiplying Churches, we increase the number of planters being trained and ready to plant. We are also seeing some of these churches shift their focus to training intentionally bivocational planters. We have several resources to help churches develop a process of training and sending planters. Would your church consider being such a church? Talk to a Church Planting Team member to get more information about becoming a Multiplying Church.
An Increased Number of Sending and Supporting Churches
Sending and Supporting Churches are the key partners in church planting efforts. They pray for, provide for, and work along- side church planters. Nationwide, only 4% of SBC churches are involved in church planting. In Colorado, we do much better at 15%. What if 50%, 75% or even 85% of Colorado churches were involved as a Sending or Sup- porting Church? It would totally change the face of church planting in our state. As we increase the number of plants, we will need more partner churches. If your church would like to get involved, we have the resources and tools to help you.
As we move through the year, my prayer is we can see these key areas increase to move us toward a greater number of plants in future years. Let’s work together to move from #thatstoolong to #allhaveheard.