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  • Writer's pictureMark Hallock

In Church Replanting, What Exactly Is A "Sending" Church?




In church replanting, what exactly is a "sending" church?


This is a question that pops up frequently in conversations surrounding replanting and revitalization. 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 a replant. The role of this church is to pray for, encourage, and serve a declining congregation however they can, leading them toward renewed, sustainable health.


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 healthy 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 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 your congregation desires 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.


But your congregation isn’t the only group in need of this kind of long-haul care. Your pastor and his family are as well. They need coaches and cheerleaders outside of your church body, particularly in the first few years. Instead, many churches fail because they put it all on the pastor, who should never have to carry this kind of burden alone. 


As churches, we need one another more than we realize. This is particulary true in church replanting. For this reason, a sending church is absolutely critical in helping to give a dying church its best chance to thrive as a replanted congregation marked by Spirit-empowered hope, joy, and renewal.


To learn more about how to either 1) become a sending church or 2) find a sending church to help your congregregation, go to churchreplanters.org.

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