A REPLANT – Is when a new church planter or pastor starts a new church with a new vision within an existing congregation for the sake of reaching a new group of people in a new way. The older church helps resource the new, and existing congregants support the direction and vision with their attendance, tithes, and prayers.

There are 4000-7000 churches that close their doors every year (which is a low estimate and may be closer to 10,000). Dying churches are a sad reality and indictment on where we’ve come as a nation and even as the church. In many cases, church members have insisted on doing things the same way out of tradition or preference year after year almost unaware of the slow decline of their attendance and giving. Worse than declining attendance, is that some churches have forgotten the reason they exist. It’s not to propagate old traditions and styles of worship, but rather to make disciples for Christ. We don’t have an option about whether we want to do that or not. It is the great commission and command of Jesus, to go and make disciples. When we fail to be faithful in this, we stop existing as a church of Jesus and become a country club full of opinions and sacred cows and we worship tradition and preference over the King of the universe. If what we’re doing in the church is not making disciples, we must have the courage to CHANGE so that we can. Sadly, most churches are so unwilling to change, they would rather die and watch their church family, resources and buildings sit empty and ultimately lose them all together. Many congregations simply wait too late to try and “turn the ship” or they want to “hang on” to too many demands causing disagreements, and the lack of true leadership causes the church to close down.

In some cases, closing is easier than replanting because to replant means to let go of your preferences. It means that the congregants have to be willing to sacrifice those preferences and traditions for ideas they’re not used to and may not agree with. They have to be more concerned with the possibility of people coming to Christ than having their own way, or the way it’s been. The existing congregation must be willing to trust the new leadership and the Lord in such a way that they can continue to worship in services they don’t fully understand or enjoy and continue to fund the vision and mission of the church so that there can be life in the church again. Life is often a result of something dying. John tells us in Jn. 12:24 (NLT) “unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels–a plentiful harvest of new lives.” The gospel of Jesus is also about seeing life come from death. Christ has laid his life down so that we may truly live. People from an existing congregation must truly understand this type of Christ-like sacrificial giving and deference so that others may know the love and mercy of Jesus. This process is one that has to be communicated over and over and done with love and compassion. When the Lord calls us to make disciples, that includes the people we already have and we must bring them along in discipleship as well as reach out in new ways for new people.

I’m not sure there is a process that is successful in replanting apart from the moving and work of the Holy Spirit of God. Sadly, our existing congregation had to go through a long season of decline and difficulty, and most do. Families that had been a part of the church for decades left in droves for other congregations where they saw and experienced life. A small remnant of faithful believers who felt led to stay, held on to each other here at Temple and allowed God to take them through a season of desert suffering as the church continued to die. Their pastor (Jerry Kidd) lovingly led them through that time with prayer and waiting on God. He prayed and asked the Lord to revive this church and he held times of extended prayer and spoke to those who were left, on what would need to be done in order to grow. He encouraged them to make room for new people and new ideas. He challenged legalistic traditions to help the people slowly open their hands and hearts in surrender to whatever God would do with them. The motto became, “we’ll do anything but compromise the word of God for Him to move here again”. If I’m honest, I’m not sure any replant can succeed without a group of existing believers willing to have this attitude and determination that God is not done with the Gospel witness the church has been over the years, and to see it thrive again, much will have to change. The replanting pastor must shepherd both old and young in a way that is to see them both know the Lord more, but not compromise his vision at the same time.

South City Church was formerly Temple Baptist Church, and on April 16, 2017 we officially launched as South City. We held Temple’s last Sunday on Feb. 26, 2017 and chose to not have services for 6 weeks. We wanted there to be a definitive end to Temple and a strong beginning for South City. In those 6 weeks, we renovated our sanctuary and had our people meet in small groups to discuss the 6 core values of South City and to learn to walk life together in a new way. Replanting a church is not for the faint of heart but I’m convinced that God is up to something new in connecting young, passionate church planters with older, existing churches in need of new ideas, new life and a refocused mission. We’re praying that God would allow us to help other churches in this process in years to come as we continue to learn from what God is doing here in us.

South City Church exists to love God and ALL people by becoming authentic disciples who make disciples for the glory of God and the good of the city.

Drew Cline
Lead Pastor
South City Church