Establishing the church
Wow! Nangyari na! What was once a vision is now a reality. You have a congregation! You are now ready to formally organize the new church. Here are some important things to do as you make your church official.
Select the pastor
Prepare the church constitution and by-laws
Begin official membership
Register with SEC
Put up a signboard
Begin to plant a daughter church
Begin a missions program
Select the Pastor
You probably already know who will be the pastor of the new church. Ideally, you had made this decision when the project first began. If you didn't decide at that time who the pastor will be, try to make this decision as soon as possible. By doing this, everyone involved can be prepared to work with this pastor as the church is being planted.
This pastor could be either fulltime or parttime. He could be a Bible school graduate or a product of informal training. Be sure to follow the requirements of your denomination. Most importantly, think through the biblical qualifications for pastors1. Make sure these are met! If you have not made this decision yet, now is the time. This is an extremely crucial decision.
Sino kaya ang puwedeng maging pastor? Here are a few options:
1. The church planter
The church planter could stay on as pastor of the new church. Some church planters plant a church and continue there for many years. This provides continuity and stability. Having a pastor who stays long in a church can often be a contributing factor to church growth.
But then, other planters are better suited to establish a church, and afterwards they move on to plant another. We need both of these types of church planters.
2. A team member
If the church planter moves on, you could develop one of the team members to become the pastor. Even if a team is composed of all working people, one of them could become pastor. He could possibly pastor while continuing at his fulltime secular job. Ideally, he could phase out from his job or resign. Many have done this. This option also provides good continuity. Also, members may find it easier to relate to this person, since he has (or had) a secular job, like them. This option mobilizes more new pastors. To increase the new pastor's chances of success, an experienced pastor or church planter should provide ongoing coaching.
We did this in our church plant in Mandaluyong. Mang Tony was part of our church planting team. Then, he resigned his job as a driver and became the pastor.
3. A leader from the mother church
A leader from the mother church could now become the pastor of the daughter church. The advantage of this is that you can pick someone with proven experience and maturity in ministry. He will probably have the respect of the members as a recognized leader from the mother church. But one big disadvantage is a lack of continuity. If you bring in someone from the mother church, it's best to involve him or her in the church planting project as early as possible!
4. From the harvest
This is an exciting option. Perhaps you could develop one of the new believers to become the pastor. Especially look and pray for those who are already leaders in the community. "Pastor ba siya?" some may ask. A possible disadvantage is that "a prophet has no honor in his own country" (Jn. 4:44). But he also has some significant advantages.
For one thing, he knows the context well. He can also relate to those in the target barangay. Furthermore, his transformed life will be evident, since his neighbors knew him in his "before Christ" days. This raises up new pastors!
If a potential pastor emerges from the harvest, earlier plans as to who would be the pastor could change. The church planter or a mature team member will need to stay on longer to give this emerging pastor, from the harvest, the on-the-job training and coaching needed. Give this option serious consideration!
5. Call a pastor from outside
When doing this, be sure there is not only doctrinal agreement, but also a similar philosophy of ministry to that used by the church planting team. This may be hard to do. Magulong-magulo if this new pastor brings in a whole new system. This is probably the least desirable option.
Who makes this decision? The church planting team, in consultation with the mother church should do this. But be very sensitive to the members. They should also own the decision. Siyempre, dapat gusto nila ang kanilang pastor.
Prepare a church constitution and by-laws
To make this easy, you can just use the constitution and by-laws of your mother church. You could also get a sample from your denomination. If you want to make changes be sure this doesn't cause any friction.
If you are an independent church you can look at the constitution and by-laws of churches you respect to get ideas. This will save you from having to start from nothing.
"Kailangan ba 'yon?" some ask. A church could function without this document. But be ready. Questions will frequently come up which a good constitution and by-laws would answer.
The new church needs leaders, especially as the team phases out. You can greatly strengthen the new believers' sense of ownership of the church by including them as leaders. Also, this will continue the process of developing leaders from the harvest. You could also appoint some team members as leaders, if necessary. As much as possible, leaders from the harvest are preferable.
What leadership roles need to be filled? Every church has a group that is the main ruling body. Various terms are used such as elders, deacons, church council, atbp. As a minimum, you must fill these positions. Appoint all the leaders that your constitution calls for and are necessary at this stage.
Be sure to choose those who are qualified. Some constitutions include the qualifications for each office. If yours does not, be sure to think this through carefully. Mas mabuti kung nakasulat.
At this early stage of your church's development appointing leaders is probably best. Members might not yet have the maturity to vote for leaders. The church planting team should prayerfully discuss these important decisions. In the New Testament we see that the church planters appointed leaders.
&Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church. (Acts 14:23)
&The reason I left you in Crete was that you might appoint elders in every town. (Tit. 1:5)
Begin official membership
Until now, we have used the term "member" very loosely. For lack of a more precise term, we've used this to refer to those who are attending your worship service, cell groups or OBSes (Outreach Bible Studies). Now we can have official members.2
Membership is exciting! It's a great way to seal the commitment of your new believers to one another and to the Body of Christ. As you challenge your new believers to take this step, present the benefits of being a member to them. Some benefits are:3
1. It identifies them as a true believer.
2. It provides a spiritual family to which they belong.
3. It places them under spiritual protection and godly leaders.
4. It gives the accountability needed to grow.
You will need to decide upon your membership requirements. In looking at different churches, we see a wide range in what they require. Here are some samples:
Everyone who attends is considered a member.
Fill up a form
Some churches require candidates to be able to explain the Gospel and give a testimony of how they have received Christ.
This could range from one to six classes. Some use this to teach on ministry opportunities. In some churches, candidates are encouraged, or even required, to identify their ministry. This is part of becoming a member of that body. For great ideas for your Membership Class see Rick Warren's excellent book, The Purpose Driven Church, pp. 315-318 (available at OMF bookstores).
Members sign this document that explains the expectations upon members and the benefits they can expect to receive as a part of the body.
Some churches, which practice deliverance ministry, require members to pass through this process. They feel this is the best way to bring members in clean and free from past evil spiritual influences!
For clarity, include the membership requirements in your constitution. Whatever process you use, it's probably best to explain all responsibilities and privileges of membership to new members as they join the church.
"Huwag na lang magkaroon ng membership. Baka matakot ang iba," say some pastors. They want to keep things loose and informal. They fear that clarifying who the members are may cause nonmembers to feel excluded. Some may stop attending. These are legitimate concerns, which we all share. Times may come when it will be more effective to include others, outside of the inner leadership, in some decision-making. Who will be included in making these decisions? Anyone who attends, with no commitment to the body? Delikado siguro. If there is a vote, who will the voters be? Also, if the church registers with SEC, a membership list is required.
Register with SEC
SEC registration is required if you want to open a bank account in the name of the church. The easiest way to do this is under the name of your mother church, assuming they have already registered. This will only require a letter from the Secretary of the Board of Directors/Trustees of the mother church. The letter should state that they authorize the account to be opened in the name of the daughter church. You could also do this through your denomination.
If you follow this procedure, the legal owner of the bank account will be the mother church (or denomination).
Some churches prefer to register the new daughter church directly with SEC. This will make them the legal owner of their bank account. Here are the requirements given by the SEC office:
Security and Exchange Commission
Checklist of Requirements for
[ ] Verification Slip Re: Corporate Name (Annex) (There is a form provided that needs to be filled up.)
[ ] Articles of Incorporation (of the church.)
[ ] By-laws (of the church.)
[ ] Registration Data Sheet (Form to be filled up.)
[ ] Secretary's Certificate for Nonstock Corp. (This comes from the Secretary of the church board.)
[ ] List of Members of the associations (the church members.)
[ ] List of contributors and amount contributed certified by the Treasurer (A church financial report will be sufficient.)
[ ] Filing Fees: P200.00 Articles of Inc. + Legal Research Fee
Another option for your bank account, which avoids SEC entirely, is to just open the account in the name of the Treasurer or other member. This person will be the legal owner of this money. This may save time, but in the long run it is not the most secure procedure. Baka magbackslide siya! And even if he doesn't, it may give him an unhealthy amount of power and influence.
If you want to buy property you will have the same options. You will need SEC registration, which you may obtain through your mother church or denomination. If you do this, they are the legal owner of your property. Some churches have done this, only to have the denomination suffer a split at a later time. This creates enormous problems regarding the ownership of the property! You could buy property in the name of a member, pero lalong nakakatakot! Unfortunately, the safest option is tiisin ang paperwork and register the new church with SEC.
Put up a signboard
This is a fun job! If you haven't done this yet, now is a good time. Once again, involve the new believers in the design and production. Check at your munisipyo and secure any necessary permissions. Many churches use streamers when signboards are not possible.
Begin to plant a daughter church
Healthy organisms reproduce. The church is a live organisma body. Healthy churches reproduce. God's will for every church is that it multiply. This includes your new church! The purpose of this new body is not just to grow, edify its members and worship. It is also to reproduce!
Multiplication comes by planting churches which plant churches. This is essential as we continue to fulfill our vision of establishing a church in every barangay in the Philippines.
Even new churches can plant daughter churches. When Dr. Donald MacGavran was in Baguio City in 1980, he said, "It is now possible to organize a church, in your country, in one year time. And when the church is one year old, that is old enough to have a daughter church."
Pastor Joel Indico responded to this challenge:
"I was sure that Dr. MacGavran's claim was impossible. To prove him wrong, I had to try it. In less than two years, I was proven wrong. His statement was right. From 1981 until now, I've proven many more times that Dr. MacGavran's statement was correct."
Start early in mobilizing your new church to plant it's own daughter church. Impart the vision. Begin to recruit a team, perhaps using your new OBS leaders, from the harvest. Set a goal and write your plan. Then continue on with the rest of the ten steps of church planting. Napakaganda kapag manganganak!
To impart vision immediately, Ralph Moore of Hope Chapel (U.S.) uses the very first offering of a new church to help a new church planting project. Use the ideas from Chapter 2 to impart vision for church planting to your new church. Pray privately and publicly for a church in every barangay in your town. Identify the nearest unchurched barangays. Adopt one of these barangays and plant a daughter church there.
If your new church is not able to carry the whole church planting project alone, try asking your mother church for help. Kaunting tulong muna mula sa biyenan para magkaroon ng sariling pamilya. Hindi sila makakatanggi. Many of the churches planted by our local church have done this. In many instances, new churches have enough fresh, eager workers to form a team. Kaya lang, kung minsan, kulang sa pera. Samantala, in many older churches, many of the members are tied up in existing ministries. Mahirap na silang pahayuin. Pero may pera sila. Workers from the new church with some financial help from the mother church can make a fruitful combination. Additional team members can also sometimes come from the mother church.
Begin a missions program
It's not only God's will that your church reproduce by planting churches among people like your members. He also desires that your church take part in reaching all nations.
&Go and make disciples of all nations. (Mt. 28:19)
This could include ministering to those of other cultures in other countries. It also could include cross-cultural ministry among cultural communities within the Philippines. Consider mobilizing one of your members to be Coordinator of Cross-cultural Ministries. Their job will be to mobilize your congregation to pray for the unreached of other cultures. They can raise funds to support Filipino cross-cultural missionaries. They can also mobilize your members to actually go and minister to those in other cultures.
Impart a vision for all nations to your church while it's still young. Antipolo Christian Fellowship Church, planted by Dr. Met Castillo, began a monthly missions offering, early in the life of the new church. They used this to help support Filipino cross-cultural missionaries and trainees.
For more ideas on how to begin a missions program like this in your church, see the excellent book by Dr. Dean Wiebracht, entitled The World Beyond Your Walls. It's available through OMF Lit. in English, Cebuano and Tagalog.
Sige, blow-out na! Kain na! You deserve it. The team has worked hard. Now celebrate!
Celebrations are important. The Bible is full of them. It's a time to look back, rejoice and thank God for what He has done.
Hold a special service to celebrate that you have met all the requirements of a local church, according to your denomination. This service will give official recognition.
Most denominations will require a particular number of members and specific leaders. These members can be recognized at the service as charter members. You can also recognize and officially install the required leaders into office. You may want to use a denominational leader for this installation. This will help your members feel they are a part of a larger body. If your church is independent you may want to request the services of a leader from your local Ministerial Fellowship. Ephesians 2:1-10 is a fitting passage to use on this occasion. This celebration will have solemn moments. Be sure it's also a happy time, full of rejoicing!
Testimonies from the new believers will probably be the highlight of the service. This is often a touching occasion for the team members who led them to Christ.
This is also a good time to conclude the ministry of those team members who are phasing out. Affirm and thank them for their valuable contribution. It's especially nice to have the new believers minister to the team through words of affirmation and appreciation.
After the celebration service, take a break! Breaks are also biblical. Yes, we want the new church to plant a daughter church. But take a rest first. After women give birth, they usually aren't ready to become pregnant kaagad, 'di ba? Nakakapagod daw sa katawan ang pagdadalantao. Kaunting recovery muna. It's similar in birthing a new church. Nakakapagod din, e! My wife, who has given birth twice, observed me as I was involved in birthing two churches. Sabi niya, mas nakakapagod ang church planting! Kaya, pahinga muna. You deserve it.
This is not the end. The new church has just begun! It's now time to bring your leaders to higher levels of service. New believers need to mature into workers. The new church needs to be developed into a healthy church! Many unbelievers still need to understand the Gospel and trust Christ. Ministries that have just begun need to be developed. Additional ministries need to be initiated. The barangay needs to be transformed!
As the church grows the role of the leader (now pastor) will change. He will spend less time making contacts and leading OBSes, and more time developing leaders who will carry out the ministry.
There are many good books on leadership, church growth and church health which can help you from this point on. For some great resources, see the Notes section in the back of this book.4 I trust that these ten steps will do far more than just help you gather your initial congregation. I hope that you now have a very solid foundation, on which you can effectively build a healthy church which will transform your barangay.
(If you skipped Chapter 8 you may want to go back and read it now and write your plan. This should be easier for you now that you have read all ten steps.)
Action planning and discussion
1. Who will be the pastor of your new church? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of your choice?
2. What might happen if you allow your members to choose their own leaders?
3. Will you implement official membership in your new church? Why or why not?
4. If you do, what will you require of those attending to become members?
5. Do you agree that it's God's will for every church to multiply, even new churches? Why or why not?
6. What will you include in your celebration service?
The main thing to do now
qWork on all of the necessary preparations for your celebration service, then celebrate! Mag-enjoy!
The Missionary Training Service is a UK Registered Charity (No. 1073046)
and a Company limited by Guarantee (No. 3554515).