When does church life begin?

by Joell Haugan, Heartland Church Planting Director

When does life begin? The current furor over Planned Parenthood in the US has reopened the abortion debate around the globe. One question that often is avoided is “when does life begin”? When is a fetus a baby…. a person.

CC Sharealike J.K. CaliffIn Church Planting we often ask a similar question. When is a new group of believers that is purposely meeting as a church a church? We have wrestled with this and haven’t solved the philosophical question but we have formalized some steps that bring a group into fellowship with our group of Baptist churches here in the West.

  1. Connection: If a group is already established we meet them and get to know one another. They meet us (the CBWC). It’s kinda like a first date.
  2. Preparation: Leaders interview each other. We introduce them to the larger family. We draw up a plan whereby we work together to plan for where this new group is heading. If there is a pastor, we get them on track with the CBWC.
  3. Assessment: A ministry plan is implemented. A bit of time goes by. More people meet with more people and the ball keeps rolling.
  4. Affirmation: The CBWC officially recognizes the group as a “church plant in process”
  5. Provincial registration: charity paperwork which may happen earlier in the process
  6. Federal registration: ditto.
  7. CBWC Acceptance: I guess this would be the birth. The congregation officially joins the CBWC family as a full fledged member.

Now, the reality is this church has been a church for a long time before step seven. And, as you know, where two or three are gathered in His name, Christ is present…so…sorry, no hard and firm answers about when church life begins here. However, we have a plan to get from conception to birth and the new life that is brought into the CBWC is a wonderful blessing!

Have questions about the process or want to take the first steps towards multiplication? Shoot me an email at jhaugan@cbwc.ca.


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