Why Plant Churches?
Church planting is the Biblical model for kingdom growth.
Before his ascension, Jesus left his disciples with a mission to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the body of believers (Matt 28). His strategy was church planting, building on this work of the Apostles (Matt 16). And this is exactly what we see in the book of Acts. Paul and others go out into the world, share the gospel to new people in new areas and they gather together into a church (Acts 2). Those people who come to faith in Christ are then gathered under elders and leaders and into new churches (Titus 1).
There is a huge need for more churches.
We need Jesus’ eyes for our community; we want to see the great number of lost people around us and desire them to come to Christ. The United States is one of the biggest mission fields in the world. Less than 20% of the population attends church and the number of churches in America has shrunk by 70% per capita since 1900. Our nation’s population is growing by roughly 11.5% per year, while church attendance is simultaneously dropping by 9.5%.
There is a great need for more churches in Colorado Springs.
Only 16% of the population in Colorado Springs is evangelical protestant; that’s even less than Denver! This means that there are over 500,000 people in El Paso County who don’t know Christ. We would need 700 new churches to meet that need. Colorado Springs is also expected to grow by 14% in the next 10 years. That means an additional 80,000 people who need to hear the good news of Christ right here in our own city.
The best evangelism strategy is church planting.
On average, church plants see eight times more conversions in the first 5 years than established churches. Church plants also form with around 10-40% of attendees coming from unchurched backgrounds. If we imagine the Christian church as a tree providing shade and rest for the world, each individual church body is like a different branch of that tree providing shade and shelter to a unique part of the world. We are called to reach all kinds of people, and we can do that by planting all kinds of churches in all different areas of our city.
Multiplication is the best strategy for reaching large numbers of people.
If a church committed to planting a church every 5 years, and those church plants each planted new churches every 5 years, there would have 15 new churches in town within 20 years!
Western Church Planting Network (WCPN)
Forestgate Presbyterian Church is a member of the Western Church Planting Network. We are partnering with Village Seven and other churches in our Presbytery to pool resources and ideas together to plant churches all across the Front-Range.
We are living in one of the most unchurched regions in America. So we all asked the question, “how do we reach the west with the Gospel?” We do it together. Training church planters and strategically sending them out. See this video below by Village Seven:
What is the Network?
While the WCPN is its own separate 501(3)c, it functions within the bounds of our presbytery and any new church planting is approved by our Presbytery. The network is made up of churches who voluntarily joined and contribute financially to fund church planting all over Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. The network is there to think strategically about where to plant next, to develop church planting residencies, and to help train up residents to potentially take on planting in these new areas.
Why does the network exist?
The west is hard ground to till and has, in the past, seen higher rates of failure in church planting. And a group of churches said “We’ve got to do better then this” and they put together some lessons learned and made sure to test candidates better to ensure they were good fits for the west before launching them out. This is what led to the creation of 2-3 year long residencies for church planters. We can now pool finances, experience, and a better understanding about planting in the Western US together to develop and evaluate new church planters. The network is there to think strategically about where to plant next and the goal is to plant 2 churches per year, which over 10 years would nearly double the size of our presbytery.
Why did we join?
We want to see the expansion of God’s kingdom in our backyard, in the west and we believe church planting is one of the best ways to do that. We now have a huge knowledge base and support system to pull from when we start planting. They can help us assess and select potential candidates, aid in the development of a residency for church planters, and provide mentoring and development of that planter.
Church Planting Residency - Top 10 FAQs
If you’ve been paying attention since last October, you may know that we’ve been planning to transition Assistant Pastor Steve Stanton into a new role as Church Planting Resident in October 2019. Steve and Becca (and Lilly and Joel) have served with us since June 2017, but October will mark the start of Steve’s two-year residency, with the goal of subsequently planting a church near Woodmen and Powers. Have we communicated too much or too little about this so far? I’m not sure, but our goal moving forward is to communicate as clearly as we can. But if you’re new to Forestgate or if you’ve been focused on other things for the past few months, here is quick FAQ to give some perspective on all of this and what it means for us…
Q1 – ARE WE THROWING STEVE A GOING AWAY PARTY ON OCTOBER 1?
No. Because Steve is not totally going away on October 1. Steve will remain an Assistant Pastor at Forestgate (albeit with a new role) until October 2021, the target date to launch the new church plant. From Oct 2019-Sept 2020, Steve will be devoting approximately 50% of his time to church planting efforts and the other 50% of his time to Forestgate. He will be handing off some of his duties to Church Administrator Carl Bobb (a process that has already begun), other duties to our new assistant pastor (whom we hope to bring aboard soon), and some duties to lay leaders in the church. This means that you will see Steve a little less, but that’s because we’re serious about Kingdom Expansion, seeing God’s Kingdom grow inside and outside the walls of Forestgate.
Q2:: WHAT IS A CHURCH PLANTING RESIDENCY? WHAT WILL STEVE’S ROLE AT FORESTGATE BE AFTER OCTOBER 1, 2019?
The purpose of a residency is to further mature an already-experienced pastor so that he can
develop in leadership skills and abilities unique to church planting,
become familiar with a local cultural context and community,
discern the specifics of location, vision and strategy in advance of actually planting,
network and evangelize,
train a core group,
gather people, AND
This gives a potential planter a community support system and the opportunity to learn (and fail!) before everything is on the line (much like an incubator for startups and entrepreneurs).
Pastor Matt, Pastor Steve, and the session have been discussing the specifics of this process (with the help of others outside our church, particularly those in the Western Church Planting Network [WCPN]) for about a year. We have tried to focus those specifics to prioritize his leadership development needs, for the sake of this future church.
Q3 :: ARE WE READY TO PLANT A CHURCH?
Yes and no, because you’re never really ready. Were you ready to become a parent when you had your first kid? (Or ready to become a homeowner? Or insert another really big endeavor.) There will always be a sense in which we could be MORE ready to do this if we waited longer. But Forestgate’s leadership has been talking about planting a church since at least 2014. Steve has had the desire to plant a church (in Colorado Springs, no less!) since at least 2016, and he was approved to plant by Mission to North America’s Church Planting Assessment Center in January 2017. We knew this when we hired Steve, and so we continued to pray that God would make His plans for our future in church planting clear. After years of prayer and tip-toeing towards this goal, we think we’re as ready as we can be.
Q4 :: WHY WILL THE RESIDENCY TAKE TWO YEARS? THAT SEEMS REALLY SLOW...
Skyscrapers need deep foundations; good soil requires a season of tilling. Church planting is not about offering a Sunday Service, it is about building a body of believers, it is about forming a missional culture, it is about learning our biblical mandate, ourselves, and our area so that we can reach our context. We need time to do this and form around these principles, before the business of Sunday services come.
This timeline gives Steve and Becca the chance to be fully immersed and part of the community in which they want to plant, and it gives us the chance to be more fully established to send them with people and resources. Steve has been a valuable asset to us, and we’ve been planning for the past year to hire new staff so that we can afford to send him off. This timeline will help them and their future church, and it will help us.
Also, during the last year of his residency (pending approval) he will be functionally planting the new church as a ramp up into launch, so it's really more like a one-year residency and a very well-supported onramp into launch.
Q5 :: WAIT... YOU SAID "PENDING APPROVAL," DOES THAT MEAN THERE'S A CHANCE HE MAY NOT PLANT?
Correct. The residency is also an evaluation process to make sure the potential planter is called and equipped to plant. This is not intended to be an additional hoop to jump through, but to be a discerning process for the host church (us) and the prospective planter's family - after all, it's a huge stress and one of the hardest things you can do in ministry even when you ARE clearly called! All that said, if we didn't think Steve and Becca were a good fit or had that potential, we wouldn't have made all of these plans!
Q6 :: WHAT HAS FORESTGATE FINANCIALLY COMMITTED TO STEVE?
Since Forestgate is a member of WCPN, part of Steve’s salary as a Church Planting Resident will be paid by WCPN once his residency plan is approved by them. Steve will also be raising a good chunk of his salary, and Forestgate will provide the rest for the next two years.
Once Steve becomes a Church Planter (once the church plant has officially launched), Forestgate has committed to give the church plant $50,000 per year over the course of three years, with the hope that internal giving from the church plant will allow them to become self-supporting and self-sustaining after three years. We hope to raise those funds through our upcoming Capital Campaign.
Forestgate is currently debt-free, and we have traditionally taken a conservative approach to finances. We do not believe any of these commitments will be a significant hindrance to us.
Steve will also need to raise a large amount of support from outside Forestgate before the church plant’s launch in October 2021. This is necessary because we cannot fund an entire church plant by ourselves, and because the ability to fundraise is a vital skill every planter needs to learn and practice. (It will be part of his leadership training and development). If you're at Forestgate and want to support their work, 1) start/increase/continue your giving to Forestgate as your home church, and 2) begin considering an “over and above” gift to our Capital Campaign. The average church plant in the Southeast requires about $500k to get started, but in the West/Colorado, that total is closer to $600k (with about $200k raised by the planter).
Q7:: CAN WE AFFORD THIS?
Forestgate has historically been a financially conservative church. We do not spend to our margins, so that we can be generous and meet pressing needs when they arise. We don’t think any of these plans represent a substantial change from those wise, fiscally-conservative principles, and we don’t think we’re putting ourselves at a significant risk.
Three additional points about this: 1) In June 2018, Forestgate established a Church Planting Fund in anticipation of something like this. 2) We hope this isn’t the last church we plant. 3) On one level, we can’t afford not to do this, if we’re serious about seeing God’s Kingdom expand.
Q8 :: WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR ME IF I LIVE IN WOODMEN-POWERS?
For now, not a lot. For all the reasons mentioned above, don't start making plans or worrying about who is going with them or who is staying at Forestgate. Two years is a long time, and when the time comes, we'll talk more specifically and help you both discern and follow God's calling on your life - whether that's staying here or being sent!
Q9 :: HOW CAN I HELP OR BE A PART OF ALL THIS?
The same way you can be a part of what God is doing at Forestgate – Glorifying God and making disciples by Exalting, Encouraging, Equipping, and Engaging (our mission statement – see the weekly bulletin for the longer version). The more established and mature we are as a church, the more we will be able to bless Steve and Becca when we send them with people and resources to plant in Woodmen-Powers. In other words… Pray! If you're not in a Community Group, join one! If you are, but haven't invited your neighbors, do it now!
If you're not serving in some way, visit here (https://forestgate.org/serving) to see some opportunities, and here (https://volunteersignup.org/RPBB8) to see our most urgent needs.
If you're not giving sacrificially, prayerfully do so!
In other words, generously give of your time, treasure, and talents for the good of your church family.
Also, Steve will hold at least one meeting in the fall with info about specifics ways to join. There are different "levels" of involvement. Being an advocate, on the sidelines, being a core group member about a year out, and being part of the leadership team from the beginning. You'll be able to find out more about all this by attending these interest meetings
Q10 :: (INSERT QUESTION HERE)
If you have any other questions not covered here, let us know! Our church has been blessed with growth lately. With growth comes change, and our desire is to lead through that change in a way that encourages Kingdom Expansion and encourages you to see the valuable role that you play in all of it. So if you have questions, please let your pastors, elders and deacons know.
Find out More about the upcoming Church plant at the Website Pastor Steve and his wife Becca created, here:
To learn more about church Planting, check out the Sunday School lessons taught on the subject by Pastor Steve: