The call to start a new church is quite astonishing and can often be intimidating. Discerning what that looks like, where that will take place, and how that unfolds can be equally challenging. Therefore, nurturing and fostering a sense of call is a vital component in the journey of potential church starters.
This is where CBF’s New Church Start Initiative wants to exist. We want to be a catalyst of support for those discerning and living out a call to starting new faith communities.
In our experience, building a network of support around a church starter with a creative space for discernment, professional coaching, training, leadership development, site visits and continual networking can make church starter’s more effective. The journey with CBF begins for folks in various stages. Sometimes we work with individuals who are fresh out of divinity school and simply want to learn more about church starting — others might be three years into their new church start but just discovered the Fellowship. There are also those who fall anywhere in between these two groups.
We have found that there is not one right place to begin a partnership with CBF, nor one right way of doing church. Our role is not to tell someone how or how not to start a church, but to help them custom-build their church by listening to the stories of the community and discerning a vision from there.
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship recognizes the numerous approaches to starting new congregations. We have adopted several different approaches and will continue to explore additional approaches in the future.
The CBF New Church Start family has house churches and co-pastor approaches, as well as intentional community, relational and emergent models. We have starters living out the mission of the church through innovative relational approaches such as running, gathering over a meal or coffee, watching TV shows and converging for philosophical conversations. Some are living out the vision of the church through providing needy children backpacks full of food each weekend, building raised garden beds in people’s backyard, holding free music lessons and building a community around people suffering through cancer.
Recently commissioned church starter Michael Mills explained, “In my experience, at the core of CBF’s church start philosophy is an understanding that no two churches are the same, nor should they be. We have been encouraged to simply be us. There is no cookie-cutter church start plan that has been forced upon us. In its place has been a simple blessing to be the church that our context needs. We’ve found such freedom in that.” Mills pastors a relational-model church start in Spokane, Washington.
Each new church is contextual and organic, responding faithfully to its particular setting. There are a myriad of church models we have partnered with. At the same time, CBF seeks to be intentional in its church starting efforts — selecting, training, commissioning and resourcing church starters for their particular calling. Visit the commissioned church starter page for a more in-depth look the various models.