When we started Impact Church 8 years ago, we made a list of “bad words.” Over time, only one of those words has still stuck around consistently… SPLIT. Pardon my language.
In planting Impact Church, I realized that most Christians have never seen a healthy, biblical model of church multiplication. All most people have seen are nasty splits. Immediately, when I began talking to my “sending” church about God’s calling to plant another church, here are some of the questions I received first… What’s wrong? Aren’t there already a lot of churches? Are you just running from God? Why not just stay here and grow the church as big as you want? Whew… those are some loaded questions, but I do not blame them. Here’s what most Christians in America have seen when it comes to “church planting:” A pastor or staff member (usually a youth or young adults pastor) gets disenfranchised with the vision of their church, begins fielding complaints from other disgruntled church members and decides they could do this better than their current leadership. The result? They take the disgruntled people with them and go “start a new work.” The members of the church are left feeling abandoned, insecure and sometimes unable to fulfill their mission due to lack of funds, volunteers or leadership. Nobody really wins in this scenario. The truth is, brothers & sisters in The Lord can see straight through your motives. They know if you are running. They know if there is a true calling. So, let’s just be honest… some church plants are church splits.
So, what does it mean to be “sent?” Well, first of all, it DOESN’T mean that there won’t be opposition. There will still be church members that do not understand and try to dissuade you or even worst, oppose you. However, there are some signs to know you have been SENT and not SPLIT…
- You have been called by God.
- There are circumstances surrounding your calling that point to God’s activity in your life.
- You have sought Godly counsel.
- Your calling has been affirmed by your local church.
Unfortunately, having a church where 50% of our vision includes being “sent,” there have been people over the years who LEAVE in the name of being SENT. They really just want to leave the church out of preference or running from something but try to call it being SENT. This behavior is divisive and ultimately serves to split a church rather than serve it.
Being sent is worthy of celebration. When someone who is following Jesus gets called to move to another place to make more disciples – that is worthy of a party even if it is sad to lose them. But we know that being sent is a natural part of being led by The Holy Spirit…
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” – John 20:21