This week we are talking about church planting strategies for cell churches. Obviously understanding your region and context is very important in the selection of a strategy that makes the most sense for church planting impact. Last week I talked about some of the lessons I learned from the experiences Iâ€™ve had in planting, rescuing and merging churches.
In my first church plant I lived on the south side of Indianapolis, just outside Hwy 465 which loops the city. In that context, it would take over an hour to completely circle the city. I found out that for the most part, people wouldnâ€™t travel from the north to the south to attend a celebration service. I was part of a church planting vision from a mothering church on the west side that wanted to plant 10 churches in ten years around Indianapolis. All of the churches were mentored under the staff of the mothering church until self-support status could be attained, usually about four years. We all had our own vision and strategy and were autonomous once self-supporting, but we were keenly aware that we were part of a larger vision for a city. We did things together and the pastors of those plants maintained close relationships as we envisioned influencing all of Indianapolis.
In another region south of Dayton, Ohio I rescued and merged two churches together. This was more of a rural setting and people were spread out. Our church was located on a State highway and there was easy access to it. The vision we had there was to bring worshipers to a central location yet plant networks of cells in the surrounding towns. If a network could grow to about 100 people or ten cells, the vision was to plant a new celebration service but that congregation would remain under the central hub for leadership and overall vision.
Years later in the same region, I formed a house church network. The house churches were independent but we came together for quarterly worship events. We were spread out across the Miami Valley of Ohio, which spanned Western Ohio from north to south. We envisioned a five-fold ministry team of leaders who would serve the overall network and give it leadership. This was a much larger regional vision.
Now I find myself on the Eastern Shore of Maryland on the peninsula known as Delmarva. We have a central worship location and people travel from greater distances to attend our celebration services. The vision we have here is to plant cells and form networks of cells in the surrounding towns but to maintain a central location for worship.
So through prayer and an understanding of your region and context, God will give you the strategy that makes the most sense and has the greatest Kingdom impact.