Providence is currently planning on planting a church in the Wakefield area of northeast Raleigh in the Spring of 2024. Below are frequently asked questions surrounding the topic of Church Planting.
Why is Providence choosing to plant a church in Raleigh?
The first reason is driven by biblical precedent. When Jesus rose from the grave, He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Mt. 28:18-19). Years later in a letter written to believers in Ephesus, the Apostle Paul revealed that local churches are God’s primary means of proclaiming the gospel. “Grace was given to preach…the unsearchable riches of Christ…so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known” (Eph. 3:9). In other words, God displays His wisdom in communities through churches that preach the gospel and make disciples.
The second reason is driven by population and geographic growth in our city. Wake County and the City of Raleigh are experiencing rapid population growth. Wake County alone grows by an average of 62 people per day and a large percentage of them do not have a relationship with Christ.
Currently, the largest pockets of growth in the city/county are outside a 20-minute drive to Providence. It’s unrealistic to assume that we could reach people in those parts of the city and expect them to drive to Providence. Therefore, as part of our 5-year vision to “reach the city”, we want to intentionally plant healthy churches further out from Providence closer to these areas of high growth.
How would you counsel me to consider this opportunity to help plant a church when I love Providence and am hesitant to leave?
1. Pray continually. Each of us should continually seek the Lord’s will in how He would use us to advance His mission during a particular season. For some, it is discipling kids, for others, it is local outreach and for others, it is helping launch a new church. Each endeavor will require a step of faith on our part.
2. Remember that each one of us is called to sacrifice for Christ. As Jesus said to His disciples: “deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) All of us have the potential to become very comfortable consumers in an established church. Being part of a church plant engages us in sacrificing time, energy, and effort to advance the mission and establish a new church in a community.
3. Remember that each one of us should ‘count the cost’. Planting a church is an exciting endeavor that offers us a tremendous opportunity to grow in our faith and dependence on God. However, it’s not easy or straightforward. There are mountaintops and valleys on the road to becoming established, yet God promises to never leave or forsake us.
4. Being a part of a church plant can be an exciting spiritual journey with a lasting impact. There is much joy and excitement that comes from seeing God bring something out of nothing; and to share in the experience of having been there when it happened. There were a handful of families that came together in a living room in 1978 and agreed upon their calling to plant a church named Providence. I am thankful for their faith, sacrifice, and endurance.
Can you describe Providence’s church planting model?
Providence is committed to planting healthy autonomous churches within our city. However, they will not begin as an autonomous church. In their initial phases, these plants will look and act very much like a site/campus to ensure health for the longer term and optimize resources.
We envision church planting in 3 successive stages. Each stage could be likened to the process of a child maturing from dependence to interdependence and ultimately independence.
Stage 1 – Launch and Reach
The church plant will launch as a Providence site under a different name. It will be led by a Providence pastor and will be under the oversight of Providence Elders. Our prayer is that God would call and send as many as 200 individuals to launch a new church. The reason we pray for so many is because, outside the grace and favor of God, church planting organizations regularly state that the greatest single factor that leads to a healthy plant is the size and strength of the launch team.
Most sermons during this first stage will be delivered by Brian Frost or whoever is preaching at Providence via live stream video. During this time, the lead pastor of the plant will focus on establishing teams and life groups and will engage in outreach within the local community. Providence will provide operational support in finance, communications, HR, and IT. Although not bound by specific time limits, we anticipate stage 1 to last for 1-3 years.
Stage 2 – Establish and Reach
During this stage, the plant will continue to establish its various ministries under Providence’s mission and vision. The church will develop its own Elders and Deacons and the lead pastor will assume the majority of preaching responsibilities. There will continue to be a high degree of ministry partnership (i.e. student ministry, outreach, missions, sermon series, groups, etc.) between the plant and Providence. Providence will continue to provide shared operational services (i.e. finance, communications, etc.). We expect stage 2 to last for 1-2 years.
Stage 3 – Transition to Autonomy
During this stage, the plant will transition to complete autonomy. This includes complete local authority by Elders/Pastors and establishing a separate legal entity. There is still a possibility to share operational services and an agreement to partner in future church planting efforts.
The transition from stage to stage will not be decided by elapsed time but by pre-defined markers of spiritual and organizational health decided upon by the Elders/Pastors.
How does Providence choose a location for a church plant?
Based on our planting model, we choose locations based on a combination of the following factors:
- The “20-minute” rule – from widespread experience, it is believed that church plants/sites need to be located at least 20 minutes from the sending church. Otherwise, there is a strong urge for people to continue attending the sending church.
- Proximity of our people – we map the addresses of all the people who call Providence home and identify large pockets of people residing more than a 20-minute drive to Providence. It is our prayer that a large portion of these people will join the church plant and seek to reach people in their community.
- High growth areas – we seek to identify areas that are experiencing high population growth and are underserved by healthy churches.
Wasn’t this initial church plant targeting the western part of the city? What changed?
When we conducted our initial analysis based on the location factors previously mentioned, we determined both the Cary/Apex and northeast Raleigh areas would be optimal for a Providence church plant. We originally started to pursue the Cary/Apex area but later realized that another gospel-centered church was planting 6-9 months ahead of our timeline in the same area. At that point, we started to pursue a northeast Raleigh location.
Where will the church be located?
We anticipate the church will start at Wakefield Middle School. Although we haven’t finalized all the paperwork, we have met with the administration and they are excited about the partnership. It is far more economically feasible to start by renting space in a school rather than purchasing land and a building. In an ideal situation, the church would begin in the school for 2-3 years before moving to a more permanent facility.
Why would we plant churches when there are so many unhealthy churches in the area that could be revitalized?
We believe both are vital to reaching our city and therefore both are included in our local multiplication strategy which we are pursuing. The reality is that not all unhealthy churches desire to be revitalized and even if they do, they may not be in a location where we can easily send people to partner in the revitalization. However, it’s encouraging to note that an increasing number of healthy churches throughout our city are getting involved in church revitalizations.
If I’m praying about joining the church plant team, what opportunities are there for me?
To plant the church, we will need a strong leadership team and many volunteers. There will be opportunities to serve in hospitality, kids ministry, student ministry, Life Groups, worship, set-up, prayer, and local outreach.
Who will Pastor this church plant?
The church plant at Wakefield will be under the authority of Providence Elders and Pastors until it becomes autonomous. On September 24, the Elders will recommend Luke Lethco to the congregation, for approval as Pastor at Wakefield. If approved, Luke will become part of our pastoral team at Providence and will be responsible for the day-to-day leadership of the church plant.
What is the timeline of the plant?
Our timeline is not set in stone, but we are currently targeting a launch on Easter Sunday of 2024. To do this, we need to start identifying and developing a launch team this fall. By February, we would love the church plant to start Life groups together and begin meeting for worship on Sundays.