WE WANT TO HELP START MISSIONAL LUTHERAN CHURCHES
You are most likely here for one of two reasons:
- you are beginning to wonder if you are called to be a church planter in the Lutheran context
- you would like to see a Lutheran church planted in your area.
We want to help with either and both. We know that there is a feeling of stepping into the unknown when you are pondering the work of starting a new church, so we are here to guide and encourage along the way.
Below you will find three steps to get started. Of course, prayer is the place to begin. After that, we encourage you to watch some short videos so that we can make sure we are on the same page. Please take the time to watch these videos as they will hopefully help answer some of your basic questions and point you in the direction that you should go next. Finally, contact us at the link provided and we will help you get connected with the people that can walk with you in this process of prayer and discernment.
We are so glad that you are praying about the work of church planting and we are honored to be able to help.
WHY PLANT CHURCHES?
Written by Timothy Keller
The vigorous, continual planting of new congregations is the single most crucial strategy for (1) the numerical growth of the body of Christ in a city and (2) the continual corporate renewal and revival of the existing churches in a city. Nothing else—not crusades, outreach programs, parachurch ministries, growing megachurches, congregational consulting, nor church renewal processes—will have the consistent impact of dynamic, extensive church planting. This is an eyebrow-raising statement, but to those who have done any study at all, it is not even controversial.
A vigorous and continuous approach to church planting is the only way to guarantee an increase in the number of believers, and is one of the best ways to renew the whole body of Christ.
The normal response to discussions about church planting is something like this:
A. “We already have plenty of churches that have lots and lots of room for all the new people who have come to the area. Let’s get them filled before we start building any new ones.”
B. “Every church in this community used to be more full than it is now. The churchgoing public is a shrinking pie. A new church here will just take people from churches that are already hurting and will weaken everyone.”
C. “Help the churches that are struggling first. A new church doesn’t help the existing ones that are just keeping their noses above water. We need better churches, not more churches.”
These statements appear to be common sense to many people, but they rest on several wrong assumptions. The error of this thinking will become clear if we ask, “Why is church planting so crucially important?”
NALC Mission Start Process
Contact Missions Office with Initial Inquiry
Attend the monthly Onboarding Webinar hosted by Pastor Brad Hales, Director of Domestic Mission or arrange an initial consultation call with the NALC Mission Office if you are unable to attend the monthly inquiry meeting. This webinar is an introduction to review our resources and answer questions. This same content will be available on the last Thursday of each month at 7 pm EST.
Register for Onboarding Webinar
Schedule a follow-up consultation with the NALC Mission Office to officially join the NALC as a Mission in Formation (House Church, Mission Post, Mission Fellowship, or Mission Congregation.)
Apply for a change in status from “Mission in Formation” to full member congregation. There is no need to rush this step. For some, this process takes a year. For some, this takes 3 years. For some others, they choose to remain a Mission in Formation and not change their status.
*To apply for a change in status, an endorsement letter from the Mission in Formation should be sent from the pastor (or mission leader) and church council president to the NALC Mission Office for consideration. Upon receipt of the letter, the Director of Domestic Mission may or may not feel the need to schedule an additional consultation before making a recommendation to the Assistant to the Bishop and the NALC Executive Council.
In order to be able to send a letter requesting a change in status, the following steps must have taken place sometime during the course of the Mission in Formation’s tenure in the NALC.
- A congregational meeting is held according to the provisions of the congregation’s constitution. The resolutions shall include the congregation’s acceptance of the constitution of the North American Lutheran Church and the decision to become a congregation of the NALC. The resolutions to join the NALC will hopefully carry the support and endorsement of the church council of the congregation. The vote required is whatever is specified in the congregation’s governing documents; normally, a majority vote of those members present is sufficient for adoption of the resolution.
- Following favorable action on the resolutions, a letter is sent on church letterhead by the congregation to the NALC Mission Office. This letter shall include the date and the results of the voting on the resolutions described in (1) above and request that the NALC Executive Council receive the congregation into the NALC. The letter should be signed by the pastor(s) and the congregational president/vice president. If the congregation is without a pastor, two congregational officers should sign the letter.
- If they have not done so already, the pastor(s) under the call of the congregation will write a letter to the General Secretary requesting certification as an ordained minister within the North American Lutheran Church, or otherwise requesting authorization from the NALC to serve the congregation. The General Secretary will proceed with the process for certification or authorization. Other ordained ministers who may be members of the congregation (retired, on leave, in special ministry), as well as individuals serving in commissioned lay ministries, may also communicate with the General Secretary if they have not done so already, requesting certification within the NALC. The General Secretary will proceed with the process for certification for them. (The availability of a rostered leader/pastor for new mission congregations or house churches will be discussed with the Assistant to the Bishop for Missions and/or Director of Domestic Mission during one of the consultations.)
- The congregation will take those actions that may be required in revising the congregation’s constitution, articles of incorporation, and other official documents, so that these documents will reflect the congregation’s membership within the North American Lutheran Church. The NALC Model Constitution for Congregations may be used as the congregation revises its constitution. (A Model Constitution for House Churches is also available as a template.)
- When the Executive Council approves the congregation’s request to become a member congregation and approves the request of the pastor(s) and other ordained and commissioned lay ministers in the congregation to become ordained and commissioned lay ministers of the NALC, appropriate certificates of welcome will be sent to the congregation, pastors and commissioned lay ministers.
Rev. Brad Hales
Director of Domestic Mission
A mission post is where fewer than ten families are interested in joining the NALC, but they are not in a position to have a regular worship location, a pastoral leader, and a full mission plan. The group gathers for prayer, worship, and mutual support. This is a way we acknowledge mission groups regardless of size, honor people’s faithfulness, and come alongside them to help focus their energy towards the possibility of growing towards becoming a mission congregation.
This is a more organized group that has regular meetings at a mission site, such as homes, coffee shops, and other available spaces. Most house churches do not have a pastor but are lay led. The main emphasis is to gather for worship, Bible study and prayer. This is an effective way of expanding the Christian faith without front-loading a mission plant with the burden of renting or owning worship space. A house church may begin with a small group of committed Christians in an area where no church exists, or it may be planted by an existing congregation branching out into a local neighborhood under the leadership of the mother congregation. The goal of a house church is not necessarily to grow into a larger congregation that requires its own building. Rather, a house church focuses on discipleship and depth.
The main mark of a mission fellowship is that it is a very mission-driven group that is larger than a house church, usually having 30 or more members. A mission fellowship has a worship site, a mission plan, a mission budget, and a core group of leaders. Meeting several times a week for worship, Bible study, and prayer, they have strong lay leadership but usually do not have a called mission pastor. The group doesn’t own its own building but intentionally uses rented space for the sake of reaching out.
A mission congregation is where all the infrastructure of a congregation is in place: mission site, mission pastor, mission plan and a significant level of self-sufficiency with a goal of becoming a fully organized congregation that is incorporated into the NALC. Mission congregations are the most organized and structured form of mission plant.
- Why Plant Churches?
- Formational Mission Questions
- Practical Guide to Discernment and Call
- How to Start a Church (a case study provided by Advent Lutheran Church, Winchester, Virginia)
- Missional Hospitality
- Planting A Church in the 21st Century
- House Church Mission Model
- Missional Capacity Assessment