A Church Planting Movement
Real movements are never safe. They require action-oriented people who see a need and run to it, instead of apathetically turning away. This feeling is becoming increasingly true of Jesus followers who have been hesitant on the sidelines in the past, but eagerly desire to see Kentucky made better in the future.
Over ten years ago, a study showed that only 13% of people “attended” church on a regular basis in Kentucky. This has not improved over time. In 2015, 4,000 churches were planted in North America. In the same year, 3,700 churches closed their doors. The global pandemic has caused even more uncertainty and chaos on many levels, but an effective gospel work has been opened yet again.
In the book of Acts, we see the Church exploding with growth and literally changing the world. The people were ordinary but willing to follow the Holy Spirit as God led them “town to town” and in their “day to day” lives. We believe this type of movement can make Kentucky flourish.
Southland’s missional heartbeat recognizes the huge gap between people who know Jesus and those who don’t. We believe God uses the local church to introduce and engage people to be with Jesus, in community, and on mission. So we started to ask ourselves, “How can we effectively serve our home state with the people and resources God has given us? How can we leave the Church and Kentucky even better than we found it?”
C. Peter Wagner is quoted as saying, “Planting new churches is the most effective evangelistic methodology known under heaven.” We agree and believe new churches best reach new people, can bring revitalization to existing churches, and spark gospel-change in communities.
Instead of programming all our planting methods or destinations in advance, our focus will be based on a contextual calling. We will offer a simple planting framework, a trellis, for organic shaping and reproduction. Our developed pathways will send and network with planters and communities. In addition, our workshops will inspire Jesus followers to learn more about the biblical nature of church planting and unlock people's potential. Our desire is to build contagious teams of people who love Kentucky, know the people and specific needs, and will follow and share Jesus where He leads.
Planting churches is a pioneering journey with lots of questions. We won’t have all the answers. Yet, we do have a calling from a faithful God, an urgency to impact eternity, and an unwillingness to settle for the status quo. We are anticipating a real Jesus-movement and believe that when common people live uncommon lives, a revolutionary change in Kentucky will happen.
Acts 17. The pioneering and stirring adventure of the Church continues. The Spirit leads, everyday-people step out in bold action, and the world is changed forever. The movement of multiplication couldn’t be and won’t be stopped. The values of Southland’s vision to catalyze a church planting movement across Kentucky can be discovered and applied throughout this chapter.
1. Christ-Centered. This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ. (Acts 17:3)
2. A World-Changing Movement. Jesus came to turn the world upside down. And now, “these men who have turned the world upside down have come here also.” The spread of the gospel throughout the Roman Empire was the beginning of a movement that would change the course of history forever. (Acts 4:16-17, Acts 17:6, 1 Thessalonians 1:8)
3. Every Day is a Mission Trip. Day by day. Town to town. Share the gospel wherever God leads. (Acts 17:10, 17)
4. Ordinary is More Than Enough. All people are welcomed. No status, formal titles, influence, or formal education required. Common people are sharing Jesus, gospel stories, and serving each other.
5. Truth. Bereans examined the scriptures for themselves. (Acts 17:10-11) Once they understood it to be true, these and other believers were not afraid to step and speak out. Often truth means that not everyone will want to join where God is leading. (Acts 17:33)
6. Context Is Key. Paul leveraged the context “where he was” to share the gospel. Especially to people who love to talk about and listen to the latest ideas. (Acts 17:21, 2 Timothy 4:3)
7. Missional Is A Must. The gospel message is carried to all points between the synagogue and marketplace. It doesn’t shy away from any location. Especially where culture is being made and where the bad characters hang out.
8. Squad Goals. Planting is a team sport. A belonging and calling. The community of believers shared all they had. (Acts 2:42) It’s all gifts, all backgrounds, varying levels of financial abilities, perspective, and both men and women (Acts 17:12, 17). We are strongest when we are together.
9. Tension Is Coming. The movement of the Church will have opposition. In Acts we see believers being stoned to death, mobs being formed, crowds being stirred, riots starting, and even the passive-aggressive stuff—like sneering. Tension will come, but not all tension is bad. Once we experience the tension, we begin to see affirmation of gospel effectiveness. For us, planting is not an exercise in novelty.
10. All Of Us. Jesus died for people of every nation, culture, and language. A real movement is multicultural and welcomes everyone. (Acts 17:26)
Planting churches is not a new idea. In the book of Acts and throughout the New Testament we see the Church multiplying through a movement of ordinary people responding to the Holy Spirit day-to-day and town to town. These communities of folks were visible groups of willing people who were witnesses to the life-changing power found only in Jesus and His resurrection. In planting, we are following Jesus who calls us to “go and bear fruit.”
Southland has been involved in church planting for many years. We have directly planted churches in our region and also supported church plants across the country. Our most recent church multiplication strategy has been multi-site. Multi-site is a model where campuses of a single church are launched in a community. This has been highly effective but, as with any strategy, has its limits.
In 2019, the leadership team of Southland decided to pursue a church planting strategy for 2020 and beyond. In 2020, Lee Webb joined Southland as our church planting director. The Southland Impact Team started to pray for planting, read lots of scripture, travel the state, and ask tons of questions. This allowed us to begin the visioning process of God’s specific call. In 2021, a church planting team was formed and it consists of three groups: Strategic Mentors, Encouragers, and Planters. Since we believe planting to be a team sport, the next step is for us to help build teams and groups of people to plant churches throughout Kentucky.
Everyone in Southland will play a role in church planting, whether you are going or sending. Perhaps God is calling you to plant a church, serve on a church planting launch team, or partner with a community of believers in a future church plant. We love to talk about church planting, it doesn't get old. Perhaps God is giving you a passion for joining Jesus and His church through planting? What will be your church planting story?
Throughout human history, many attempts have been made to change culture for the good. Some of these include governmental assistance, free hand-outs, volunteering, education-based strategies, or a sole focus on economic development. While all of these may have their benefits or weaknesses, none of them offer the unifying resources we find in the Good News of Jesus.
Our philosophy for planting churches is founded in Jesus. He alone offers sustainable mercy, life-change, and eternal hope. Nothing beats the local church, on mission together.
I am the way, and the truth, and the life. - Jesus
Utilizing existing community strengths, opportunities, context, and serving localized needs with no pretense.
Mobilizing and unlocking people’s potential to join Jesus, be on mission, and in community. “Take your everyday ordinary life and place it before God.” (Romans 12:1-2, MSG)
To see our vision of catalyzing a church planting movement across Kentucky actualized, our mission is to act as a planting trellis.
Our planting trellis will provide enough structure for gospel growth wherever God leads us throughout the Bluegrass. We will offer a simple framework, allow for organic shaping, be flexible and bendable, and offer a conduit of resources. The base will include a biblically sound foundation with fertile soil. The pieces to the trellis will evolve as the journey and options expand.
Our team is prayerfully considering multiple pathways to assess, coach, encourage, and care for church plants and planters. These paths involve sending planters and teams from Southland, partnering with plants through a Southland network, and inspiring people to learn and explore their calling towards planting.
If you have questions that our below FAQ does not answer, contact us at email@example.com.
What is a church plant?
A church plant is the new start of a tangible and visible community of Jesus followers. As this fresh expression begins, it will eventually have a separate life of its own including a Christ-centered calling and vision, local leadership, biblical teaching, discipleship, a participation in communion, and an ongoing celebration of baptisms. Even though a church plant has a contextual focus and will have a distinct life, it may still be in a relationship with Southland or other churches.
We believe church planting done well reaches new people, it also revitalizes and rejuvenates sending churches to Great Commission work. Planting sparks a change in communities and cities. Church planting is often described as "the single most effective evangelistic methodology under Heaven.” A study in 2010 stated that only 13% of Kentuckians attended church on any given week. Many statistics continue to show an alarming amount of churches closing while population numbers are growing. The local church is the bride of Christ and God’s redeeming instrument for true impact and eternal change. We desire to see it grow and multiply.
Studies and anecdotal evidence indicate that if there is one church per ten thousand residents, approximately 1 percent of the population will be churchgoers. If this ratio goes to one church per one thousand residents, some 15 to 20 percent of the city’s population goes to church. If the number goes to one per five hundred residents, the number may approach 40 percent or more. The relationship of the number of churches to churchgoing people is exponential, not linear. – Tim Keller
Does Southland have a history in church planting?
Southland has been involved in church planting for many years. We have directly planted churches in our region and also supported church plants across the country. Our most recent church-multiplication strategy has been multi-site. Multi-site is a model where campuses of a single church are launched in a community. This has been highly effective but, as with any strategy, has its limits.
What comes first, leader or location?
We are praying for God’s plan and will build an approach that allows for either circumstance as we join Jesus throughout the Commonwealth.
Will the churches be Southland-branded?
We are building a trellis for church planting that will allow for a flexible framework. Some of the churches we plant could have the Southland name, some could be sent from Southland with key components of Southland’s DNA, and others might be supported through shared beliefs, affiliation, and developed network.
What is Southland’s approach to church planting?
We believe planting is strongly based on calling, circumstance, and context. In addition, we believe church planting to be a team sport, not a solo flight. A long-haul view is critical to provide sustainability needed for new works. Pray for us as we seek God’s leading!
How is a church plant different from a campus?
Multi-site church growth is a methodology that has been highly effective in the life of Southland. Yet, it is not church planting. Planting is a sending exercise that prayerfully results in an autonomous (yet cooperative) new church growth across Kentucky. We desire to celebrate campus life while unapologetically seeking all methods to share the hope of Jesus.
What are the challenges of church planting?
Church planting is difficult and success is not guaranteed. Many studies show that as many as 40% of plants will not survive beyond three years. Planting is a faith journey and while many people have a passion for ministry, planting is a unique calling.
Is church planting just a fad?
Planting churches is not a new idea. In the book of Acts and throughout the New Testament we see the Church multiplying through a movement of ordinary people responding to the Holy Spirit day-to-day and town-to-town. These communities of folks were visible groups of willing people who were witnesses to the life-changing power found only in Jesus and His resurrection.
What opportunities are available for me to help Southland plant churches?
Thanks for asking! Here are two next steps for you to prayerfully consider: