Recent Reflections on Mother-Daughter Model of Church Planting

8 05 2011

So many of you know that Quest was born out of New Horizon UMC back in 2004.  I was appointed in July of 2003 to start a new church out of New Horizon, a congregation that I had been a part of from 1995-1999.  New Horizon is where I was inspired at what God’s church COULD be.  New Horizon is where I experienced God’s call to vocational ministry.  New Horizon is even where I met my wife.  So, to have had the opportunity to “come home” and birth a new church out of a church I loved so much was a true blessing.

It’s been six and 1/2 years now since Quest was birthed from New Horizon.  Over those years I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on our “mother-daughter” relationship as churches, but it was only last week that I actually put some of those thoughts into writing.  Roger Ross, the founding pastor of New Horizion, friend and mentor, asked me to share some of my thoughts with him as he had an opportunity to teach about the “mother-daughter” model of church planting to a group of potential new church pastors.  So, what I wrote for him, I’ll share with you.

4 Best things about our mother-daughter church planting experience:

  1. Replicating healthy DNA – by in large, those who came from New Horizon to Quest were rooted in an outreach mindset, saw the value of evangelism and discipleship and “got it”.  Being able to start a church with a core of people who have already, for the most part, experienced a taste of the vision you’re casting is invaluable.
  2. Along those same lines, we launched with moderate financial stability because part of the healthy DNA included tithing.  It hurts the mother to have a dozen or so tithing families leave, but is an amazing blessing to the daughter.  Furthermore, there were financial advantages of startup office space, administrative support, special offerings, etc. (There is a double edged sword on this though – there is benefit in having financial challenges because it teaches dependence and shows who is truly bought in – great character can be developed through financial hardship.  I felt we had a very good balance between the blessing of stability and the blessing of challenge.)
  3. An ongoing and supportive relationship with the mother church – from the daughter’s perspective, we have “come home to do laundry” many times over the years.  Whether that is borrowing equipment, utilizing facilities, sharing ideas, or simply getting emotional support, the daughter can benefit greatly from having a concerned and loving mother.
  4. Community connections – As a new church planter, it is vitally important to develop relationships with as many people as possible in the community.  Having a church full of people to help you make connections is tremendously valuable.  Some of our early seekers from the community (who weren’t part of any church) were connections we made directly or indirectly through relationships within New Horizion.

4 Worst things about our Mother – Daughter experience:

  1. If the health of the mother is poor (either systemically or temporarily), it will bode poorly for the health of the daughter.  In our case, New Horizon was a healthy, missional and growing church, but by the end of the first trimester, there was betrayal of trust within the New Horizon staff that devastated our mother and lead to her being in ICU for a time.  Needless to say, the large majority of resources and energy from New Horizon went to preserving her own life, and the pregnancy was no longer the focus.  Therefore, for Quest, it was necessary to “get out of the unhealthy womb,” but it wasn’t the kind of birth either the mother or the daughter hoped for.
  2. The challenge of casting an alternative vision that reflects positively on the mother church rather than negatively.  When casting vision within the mother church, to people who are already churched, oftentimes, what attracts them is the vision of what will be DIFFERENT from the mother church.  If not careful, you can create disunity between the mother/daughter simply by the way you cast the vision.  I found this challenging, but not impossible.  However, I realize that some churched people hear what they want to hear and project their alternative (different from the mother’s way of doing things) desires on the daughter without being invited to do so!  That leads to the next one…
  3. People leaving the mother church to go with the daughter church for the wrong reasons.  There is only one good reason – a call from God.  It’s hard to quantify, but I believe that about 50% of the people we received from the mother church came for the right reasons, and they make up the few who remain six years later. Of course, people will ALWAYS come to a new church from other churches with wrong motives (whether they realize them or not), but it hurts more from the mother church because they are supposed to make up your CORE. Poor reasons to come include, but aren’t limited to:
    1. Escaping the mother church for any reason (personality conflicts, difference of opinion on vision, avoidance of capital campaign, tired of serving, etc.)
    2. Sound’s like fun
    3. A desire to be a big fish in a little pond
  4. Awkward tensions between mother and daughter in subsequent years because of people leaving one church for the other when they are dissatisfied or disgruntled.  Being open and honest as leaders of the two churches is absolutely necessary.

As I shared with Roger when we spoke, I would not trade our experience for any other. I feel the Mother-Daughter Model is the best IF certain criteria are met.  Maybe someday I’ll blog about that criteria.  In the meantime, enjoy a beautiful day.


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