Church planting is not for the faint of heart. The mission our Lord calls us to is a matter of life and death. It has eternal consequences. The Church is God’s plan A. There is no plan B.
This past summer, I celebrated the 40th anniversary of my ordination. My wife, Debbie, and I planted two churches ourselves, one in Dayton, Ohio, in 1986 and the other in Princeton, New Jersey, in 1992. We have coached and mentored hundreds of female and male church planters, taught in a seminary for 11 years, and now help to lead Stadia, a church planting organization that will reach 500 new churches planted within the next 12 months.
After these 40+ years on mission, I am convinced more than ever that the Church – the body of Christ, the bride of Christ, God’s chosen people, a sent people – is the most powerful way to fulfill God’s mission in the world. The Church is far from perfect, but it’s still the best thing going.
We just need more God-honoring, biblically rooted, Spirit-led, “sent” churches in every community on the planet.
Can any intelligent woman, man, or child doubt that our world is in trouble? Can you read or watch the news and come to any other conclusion? So, what’s the answer to these deeply ingrained cultural and global issues? There are many people much smarter than I who will give you many good substantive answers to this question. But as the Body of Christ, I believe our ultimate answer is THE CHURCH!
I am sold out to the Church. I am often asked, “What is the key to starting effective, successful churches?” There are many good answers to this question: the right leader, demographics, solid systems and processes, effective ways to get the word out, contextually appropriate strategies, meeting community needs, a well-defined and focused vision, and the list goes on. All of these things are extremely important, and the Stadia team and other church planting organizations can help you with all of them.
However, over the last 40 years my answer to what is the key to successful church planting is pretty simple: IT’S ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS!
God is a sending God. In the Old Testament He sent Abraham into an unknown land; He sent Moses, the prophets, and then finally He sent His son. Jesus sent the Church. It has always been about God sending people. It’s all about relationships. Make sense? It’s about a relationship with God through Jesus Christ empowered by the Holy Spirit. It’s about a relationship with the church, a relationship with scripture, a relationship with those far from God, a relationship with one’s family, a relationship with the community that God has called us to live in, a relationship with the creation, and much more.
Yep, church planting is all about relationships. I hope you will join me as I write about this in future blogs. We have much to discuss in this journey together.
This is the first post in a multi-article series called “Church Planting: It’s All About Relationships” by Stadia’s Executive Director Tom Jones. Watch for a new article each week on the Stadia blog. Meanwhile, hear about Tom’s “home church,” and why he has dedicated his life to starting “home churches” for every child, HERE.
Dr. Thomas F. Jones, Jr.
Executive Director, Stadia
Driven by his passion for the local church and people to know Christ, and decades of experience in the world of church planting, Tom has been a part of the Stadia team since 2003. Having planted churches with his wife Debbie Jones in Centerville, OH and Princeton, NJ, Tom is a visionary leader who understands the mission of Stadia in a unique way. His role as Executive Director involves direct oversight of the implementation of Stadia’s vision, strategic plan, and operations. Outside of his Stadia role, Tom also served as a tenured professor at Emmanuel School of Religion for 11 years and was the editor and primary author of Church Planting from the Ground Up. Although Tom is an avid tennis player and golfer, his greatest joy is found in spending time with his family … his wonderful wife Debbie (who also works for Stadia), their daughter, Melanie, along with her husband Jade and daughters, Cora and Celia, and their son, Tom, and his wife Stephanie, and their daughter, Emilia.
Are you a catalytic leader who is ready to start a great church? Stadia is ready to help!