What is a sending church and why is one needed to help replant a church effectively? Simply put, a sending church is a congregation that agrees to come alongside and help replant a dying congregation for the long haul. In a very real sense, the sending church serves as the sponsor or mother church for the replant. The role of this church is to pray for, encourage, and serve the newly replanted congregation however they can.
The idea of a sending church is most common to hear in the context of church planting. After all, many recognize that for a church to succeed it needs more than a high-capacity pastor or compelling outreach strategy. It needs a church to foster and champion its growth. In fact, we see in the Bible that since the church first began to multiply, churches have been planting churches.
I think we have just as many reasons, maybe even more, to argue that churches should replant churches as well. Consider this analogy. You may have been in a serious accident or know someone who has been. What did the road to recovery look like after such a significant event? Who played a role in bringing you or your friend back to health? Let’s list some of these people:
Trauma Surgeons - practiced professionals trained to identify the most serious threats to your life and to bring you out of critical condition.
Nurses – agents able to offer not only physical care but emotional, advocating on your behalf as you journey together toward recovery.
Physical Therapists – coaches who push you further than you wanted or imagined you could go, in order to restore strength and mobility to muscles that had atrophied.
Family Members & Friends – loved ones who bring you meals, send you cards, mow your lawn, make you laugh, and meet your needs, especially on your hardest days.
Counselors – wise guides who help to process the reasons for and implications of the events in a context of safety, empathy, and correction.
Just as physical recovery takes a community of care, so does church recovery. If you want not just survival but vitality, it takes more than some paint on the walls or a new voice in the pulpit. It takes guidance, shoulder-bearing, correction, provision, encouragement, protection, and time. A sending church offers a new replant this and so much more.
While the option of replanting through a sending church is not always possible, I am convinced it gives the potential replant its best chance for long-haul health and renewed multiplication. To learn more about what it means and looks like to become a sending church for a dying congregation, check out the book, "Replant Roadmap." This book is designed to help equip a sending church to replant a dying congregation in an effective, God-glorifying manner. You can pick up your copy at Amazon here.