A Family To The Family-less

Two weeks after the Pioneer conference in Malaga, a particular theme is still resonating with me and coming back to me over and over again. It was a strong theme that served as the through line for a conference about church planting.

The theme was family. It’s a word we use every day and that we wear down with overexposure. It’s a word that is the key theme behind popular film franchises and that can become an intense battleground of political agendas. But I think perhaps this conference helped me realise the core of what family really is.

During one of the seminar slots, Dave and Liz Holden led a time of reflection about what it means to be a family on a mission. What it means to plant a church as a family. How can we make sure that we are doing what God wants us to do all while protecting those closest to us?

We prayed for parents, for wisdom and courage in their parenting and church planting. Looking to God for protection as church planters uproot their entire lives and families to do God’s work at the ends of the earth.

A real highlight of the conference was the viewing of the short documentary film “Children of Shanghai”, a film about Rob and Liz’s Glover’s wonderful work in China, Thailand and Vietnam with Care for Children, finding families for children who don’t have one.

So why this focus? Why can’t we get on with talking about church planting like we’re meant to? For a lot of us, raising children is something that God has asked us to do for a big chunk of our lives, and it’s one of the hardest and most rewarding things to do.

But of course, if we stopped there, we would be building our own little empires. God asks us to take those families that we have built and put them on the frontline to serve His kingdom. And this is where church planting comes in. It is a family of families and a family to the family-less.

And beyond that, as New Ground, we are more than a collection of churches, we are a family. The use of that word isn’t a mistake. As I was walking around the conference centre, it was a joy to be able to bump into people I know, people I love, people who are an inspiration and a challenge. We are a family of churches together on a mission. And it is so important that we never forget that.

And finally, as someone who has only been in New Ground for the past three years, the history of New Frontiers before “the multiplication” has always been a bit lost on me. But here, in Spain of all places, it was a delight to be able to not only meet with all those I know but also meet people from “the other side”. As we joined with Relational Mission, the full reality of Newfrontiers as a macro-family came into focus for me.

We are a family of families of families of families. This is the vision of God’s kingdom.

So why is family key to church planting? Because put simply, church planting is family building. Nothing more, nothing less. Let’s go into this world and build God’s kingdom, not as an organisation, but as family.