Partnering with Planters/Apprentices in a Pandemic

The KBC annual meeting was held in Owensboro this year and included a scaled-back slate of events; and of course, social distancing, mask wearing, and plenty of hand sanitizer. Kentucky Baptists from all over the state gathered to hear reports on mission work, evangelistic efforts, and to praise the Lord for those we as a state have seen come to a saving knowledge of our Lord and Savior over the calendar year. The tough year was definitely evident in many of the conversations. Pastors are concerned about their members; many of whom have not returned to church since March. Churches are having to reinvent many of their current ministry models. Some new ministries have been born while others have stalled or even died.

As I talked with pastors about their work, inevitably their question to me would be, “how are the church plants doing in the pandemic?” My general answer is “good,” yet each planter has their own unique issues just like pastors of established churches. The question they posed tells me several things about these godly pastors:

They care!

I’m incredibly honored that pastors and churches are asking about the work of KBC assisted church planters. Their question not only tells me that they love me and the ministry that I do, but those I serve! Some of the pastors know a church planter in their area and many do not. By simply asking about the ministry of planters, these ministry partners are acknowledging that they care. One way that I encourage churches to care for KBC planters is by visiting our Planter Portal to learn more.

They understand the struggles of the pastorate.

These guys are not “asking to be asking.” They are genuinely concerned about other pastors. Church planters are pastors! Not “when you get a building,” or “when the crowd reaches a certain number,” or “when assistance from a sponsoring church or state convention ends.” The majority of church planters are bivo or covocational (called to a profession AND as pastor).These guys work hard and who knows this better than other pastors? Here is a great article on Bivo/Covo pastors at the BSCLN.

They know about the work!

These pastors know that planters, replanters, and apprentices are active throughout the state. They are befriending planters within their association and are seeking to educate their church on the work of church planting. An AMS friend of mine sends me a text several times a month letting me know he is praying for KBC assisted planters. He often asks about a specific planter or family to learn more about their work or to pray in a more specific manner. Have you signed up to receive an email a week to pray for a different planter?

They are currently, or are thinking about actively supporting the work of a church planter.

One pastor friend asked for and received a list of twelve planters-one for each month-and is actively praying for and encouraging them. Another friend is connecting his church with a planter to pray regularly, send them a few small gifts of encouragement, and possibly send a team of volunteers next summer to help with an evangelistic project. At our REACH Evangelism Conference this coming March, I will be leading a conference on how you (particularly smaller churches) can partner with and encourage a church planter. 

They are connected to the evangelistic work of others.

Simply being around other evangelistic people encourages me to evangelize! When I pastored a local church, I did my best to not only surround myself with evangelistic pastors, but I strove to expose the church to examples of godly men who made a habit of evangelizing regularly. Church planters are an excellent example! I like to tell young or prospective planters that they are not church planters unless they are very active in two things: evangelism and disciple-making. Intentional evangelism leads to discipleship. Healthy disciples who understand scripture lead to the beginnings of a local church. A healthy local church who understands the mandate of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) and the 2-2-2 Principle (2 Tim. 2:2-training faithful men, who train faithful men, who train faithful men), is one that multiplies itself into another church(es). I would love to connect you to the evangelistic work of another brother in Christ; particularly a KBC assisted church planter!

To those who have encouraged me during this COVID year; thank you!! Your love for me and the planters/replanters/apprentices I work with are much appreciated. As you close out 2020 and look toward 2021, I would ask that you consider including a partnership with a Kentucky Baptist church planter in your evangelism/missions strategy. You can sign up to pray for a planter, partner for a short-term mission project, or simply send the planting family a small gift of encouragement occasionally. I am here to help you learn what a partnership with a planter may look like for you! toby.dehay@kybaptist.org

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