Sending Churches Showcase Key Considerations for Planting a New Church

Mark Vance is lead pastor of Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa. Since it began in 1994, Cornerstone has planted 15 churches throughout the Midwest and beyond. Photo provided by Cornerstone Church

In the lifetime of their congregation in Ames, Iowa, Cornerstone Church has launched more than 15 new churches across the Midwest. Planting these new churches became a core aspect of Cornerstone’s DNA as they shifted into the mold of a sending church.

“We are not doing church planting simply because it’s a great strategy,” said lead pastor, Mark Vance. “We practice church planting because it’s a model of the Gospel.”

Vance described the picture of Jesus leaving His heavenly home and of God sending His Son to accomplish His mission.

“We have to realize that we are the sent people of God,” Vance emphasized.

As they aim to reach college communities and university campuses, Cornerstone sends leaders and church members with each of those new church plants.

“All of the people who were a part of the church planting process spent significant time here,” Vance said. “Of those who went out were raised up, trained up and then sent out to participate in church planting.”

One of those church planting missionaries that Cornerstone sent out is Rob Warren, who leads Doxa Church in Madison, Wis., which launched in the Fall of 2018.

Warren, who served as a 2019 Week of Prayer missionary for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American missions, said the efforts of a sending church make starting a new church in a difficult mission field more feasible. See related Baptist Press [URL:–planting-glory-in-a-secular-city]story.

“You’re setting yourself up for success,” Warren said of the relationship with his sending church. “If the goal is to come and plant a vibrant church, we are better together. You can go farther and faster with a sending church.”

Cornerstone’s church planting emphasis grew out of the seed of a vision about the fields being “white unto harvest” based on Luke 10:02. While the church had seen growth in their local congregation, they looked outside themselves to notice the need to send workers, missionaries, to reach communities with the Gospel.

“Generally speaking, the problem is not a lack of resources. It is a lack of vision,” Vance said. “We were so focused on what was right in front of us that we didn’t have a bigger picture of what God had for us. We had to lift our eyes up and see the harvest.”

Cornerstone’s leaders saw planting in collegiate communities as their main target because that was the lane God was blessing in their ministry in Ames near Iowa State University.

Many churches that have the desire to start new churches in a city or community that desperately needs a gospel witness may struggle to know where to get started. A sending church, Vance noted, must first establish a healthy, gospel-centered culture.

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Source: Baptist Press