For over 20 years one of the ways McBIC has tried to fulfill our mission of
helping people connect with Jesus is through church planting. In 2001 we sent 60 people to launch Mountain Ridge Church in Dillsburg and in 2014 Pastor Chad Wenger and 75 people from McBIC started Mechanicsburg Community Church at the Mechanicsburg Middle School. During that time we also sent out approximately 85 people to start two other churches-one of which still exists as a series of house churches and the other, which never really got traction.
Church planting is wonderful-when it works-but it's not easy. Statistics I've seen estimate that only 1 in 3 church plants become viable churches. Due to the limited success rate in church planting and the trauma churches that plant go through watching people they love leave to go elsewhere and dealing with the negative impact planting can have on their ministries and finances, it's natural to raise the question, "Why not just continue to grow big here, rather than sending people away to start something new?"
Last Thursday Pastor Chad Wenger (MCC), Pastor Ken Landis (MRC) and Pastor Sam Hepner (MRC Gettysburg) met for breakfast, as we've been doing monthly for the last 9 months. Naturally, we talked about our Easter services and I asked them how many people attended their church on a day that's often the most well attended Sunday of the year. The combined attendance among our 4 churches was just over 1,300 people. 1,300 people is roughly 2x the size of McBIC. And here is what I'd like you to reflect on with me...
If instead of planting churches since 1996, McBIC had focused our resources on growth at McBIC, we might be a church of 1,000 to 1,500 people. If we were a church that size we would need additional staff; we would need either an additional service or two and/or a larger facility; and, our ministry and programming would need to be much more extensive. Ostensibly, our larger size would allow us to increase our ministry footprint locally, regionally and globally.
Instead, McBIC is a church of 600 and we're now linked to 2 daughter churches and a granddaughter church. Those churches have gifted staff members and teams of volunteers with gifts and passions for ministry that are effectively serving in Mechanicsburg, Dillsburg and Gettysburg in ways that McBIC never could and over the years the footprint of those churches will continue to expand.
There are nearly as many ways to "do church" as there are churches and many of these strategies bear fruit for God's Kingdom, but I enjoy reflecting from time to time on the impact of God's call for McBIC to be a "church planting church." Church planting isn't easy and it demands sacrifice on numerous levels, but the fruit is sweet-growing churches focused on transforming lives, impacting the communities in which they're located with Jesus' life and partnering with other churches to see God's will done on earth as it is in heaven regionally and globally.
(Emailed with Permission)