Church Planting Strategy for North Pacific Union Conference


(Conferences, Institutions & Union working together)

July 2004


Three Targets

  1. Metro areas of 100k+  (especially the Top Ten + Billings*)
    • Biblical example- Paul’s approach to church planting (Acts 16-19); Rome
    • Ellen White’s counsel
      • The work has been confined to a few centers, until the people in them have become gospel hardened. It is difficult to make an impression on those who have heard so much truth and yet have rejected it. In a few places too much has been expended, while many, many cities have been left unwarned and unworked.  {Evangelism p. 60.3}
    • Rationale-
      • A typical church of 200 active members will impact a maximum of 10k people (200 members x 50 contacts = 10k if there is no overlap)
      • Is there saturation point? Sao Paulo, Brazil has more than 750 Adventist churches in six conferences; their latest strategy is to have an Adventist church within 200 meters/yards of everywhere in the city
    • Strategy To Accomplish-
      • Work with metro networks of pastors & church board members to raise awareness & develop strategies for church plants; goal- continue to reduce the church-to-population ratio aiming toward 1:10k or better
      • Plant a new church in coordination with a major evangelistic series whenever possible, involving several districts in the process (including WWC Summer Field Schools of Evangelism)
    • NPUC example- 24/7 SDA Church in Seattle w/Steve Leddy & Matt Gamble
    • * Top Ten Metro Areas + Billings are Greater Seattle, Portland/Vancouver, Tacoma, Boise, Spokane, Salem, Eugene/Springfield, Anchorage, Bremerton, Olympia & Billings
  2. Churches with membership of 300+
    • Biblical example- Jerusalem Diaspora (Acts 8:1, 4; 11:19)
    • Ellen White’s counsel
      • Let forces be set at work to clear new ground, to establish new, living interests wherever an opening can be found. Let men learn how to make brief, earnest prayers. Let them learn to speak of the world’s Redeemer, to lift up the Man of Calvary higher and still higher. Transplant trees out of your thickly planted nursery. God is not glorified in having such immense advantages centered in one place. We need wise nurserymen who will transplant trees to different localities and give them advantages whereby they may grow. It is a positive duty to go into regions beyond. Rally workers who possess true missionary zeal and let them go forth to diffuse light and knowledge far and near. …But the large responsibility that is now centered in Battle Creek should have been distributed years ago. — (1895). {Counsels on Health p. 510.2}
    • Rationale-
      • The Wise Gardner transplants trees so they will reach their full potential
      • Churches that are healthy are meant to have babies
      • Tithing principle- If we release 10% of our members to reach more lost people, do we believe that God will make the other 90% go farther?
    • Strategy To Accomplish-
      • Area or conference-wide retreat/rally with pastors, elders & church board members to raise awareness of the value of church planting & to develop strategies
      • Plant a new church in coordination with a major evangelistic series whenever possible, involving several districts in the process
    • NPUC example- Wenatchee, WA Abundant Life
  3. Areas of opportunity
    • Biblical examples- Samaria (Acts 8:14); Ethiopia through the eunuch (Acts 8:26-40); Cornelius & family (Acts 10:1-48; 11:1-18)
    • Ellen White’s counsel
      • This Ethiopian represented a large class who need to be taught by such missionaries as Philip–men who will hear the voice of God and go where He sends them. There are many who are reading the Scriptures who cannot understand their true import. All over the world men and women are looking wistfully to heaven. Prayers and tears and inquiries go up from souls longing for light, for grace, for the Holy Spirit. Many are on the verge of the kingdom, waiting only to be gathered in.  {AA 109.1}
      • An angel guided Philip to the one who was seeking for light and who was ready to receive the gospel, and today angels will guide the footsteps of those workers who will allow the Holy Spirit to sanctify their tongues and refine and ennoble their hearts. The angel sent to Philip could himself have done the work for the Ethiopian, but this is not God’s way of working. It is His plan that men are to work for their fellow men.  {Acts of the Apostles p. 109.1-2}
    • Rationale-
      • Sometimes the Holy Spirit surprises us in where He chooses to move or where people will be receptive to His leading
    • Strategy To Accomplish-
      • Ethnic groups or clusters of receptive people who initiate interest and show willingness to sacrifice time & money; miraculous opportunities, e.g. swarming method- nucleus of 3-4 committed families w/group placed in an existing district
    • NPUC example- Mattawa, WA Spanish

NPUC Role 

  1. Provide coaching to conference leaders as they develop church planting plans. Help them be proactive in avoiding these potential problems with new churches
    • Pastoral dependency; wanting their own pastor from the beginning
    • Tithe diversion; not remitting tithe to the conference in a timely manner, or not recognizing the Biblical distinction between tithe and offerings
    • Doctrinal disharmony; avoiding the unique message, identity or mission of Seventh-day Adventism
    • Disconnection from SDA Education; not taking steps to be involved in the governance and/or financial support of the local SDA school(s)
    • Isolation; Church and/or pastor does not connect regularly with other SDA activities and leaders in the area
    • Premature birth; core group does not yet have one or more of the following- unity, experienced church leaders, recognition of sacred things (marriage, tithe, Sabbath), outreach experience, commitment to worldwide mission & message of Seventh-day Adventist church, soul winning plan, spirit of cooperation with conference leadership
    • Lack of clarity on church organizational issues- e.g. how each of these issues is handled in the Seventh-day Adventist Church and why- membership, ordination, baptism, assignment of pastoral care, accountability of local leadership to the congregation, accountability of pastors to the constituency, etc.
  2. Provide training, seminars and focus weekends on church planting in the first two target areas above as requested by conferences
  3. Point to outside resources when conferences want specialized activities such as assessments, church planting conventions, etc.
  4. Encourage conferences to carefully track all churches that are less than five years old (members, attendance, money)
  5. Provide a section of the NPUC Ministerial website for church planting, including a listing of all churches within the union started within the past five years with links to their websites and links to resources