EQUIP Exchange took place earlier this month at the Beltsville (Md.) church. Designed to help lay members understand how to plant a church, from the basics to the more complex, the event touched on multi-site scenarios, steps and techniques to plant vibrant, healthy churches and principles and skills to enhance a church’s current health and growth.
“The why of EQUIP Exchange is simple but profound,” says Peter Casillas, associate for pastoral ministries. “It’s about empowering laity, pastors and church planters to trust God to do the impossible. It’s about God-sized dreams and our inability to accomplish them—but then God comes into the picture. It’s about praying and discovering the deep love that God has for a particular community or people group and how He is calling us to be a Caleb—a giant hunter!”
The event followed the format of EQUIPHD, which focuses on mission and evangelism, while EQUIP Exchange focuses on church planting and church growth. EQUIP Exchange gave church planters the opportunity to share their experiences and the “how to’s” of church planting through ted-talks and classes. Participants had the chance to engage in dialogue with the practitioner and hear the ins and outs of church planting as well the stories behind the sweat, tears and blessings of planting a church.
Casillas says there are three important aspects of church planting:
- “Mission defines how we plant. The planter becomes more effective when he / she understands the the community and its culture. They will come from a place of love for the community—not just to recruit people into the ranks of the denomination.
- Planting a church is a call for all, not just the professionals. Laity, lay-leaders, pastors and church planters are all called to this mission. It’s a ministry for everyone–the extroverts introverts, loudest and quietest. It’s about the Spirit of God moving in you for the sake of those who thirst for Him.
- Church planting is the blood of the Seventh-day Adventist movement. Planting is in our DNA, but at some point we departed from it. We need to come back and trust that God is before us.
“With these principles in mind, I challenge every church and pastor to plant a church every five years,” says Casillas. “ I know what you are thinking—it’s impossible! However, churches should not be planted by division, but by passion and love for a community. This allows a church to be planted with powerful life and a renewed sense of mission and desire to see peoples come to Jesus before His second coming.”