What’s Your Story? New Life and Church Planting

February 20, 2015

“Church planting is the most effective form of evangelism under heaven” – C. Peter Wagner

Passion for PlantingWe’re often asked what’s with New Life and church planting. Why spend so much time and money helping start churches “out there” when we’re still growing “in here”. For this installment of What’s Your Story we’d like to share a little about how New Life got involved in church planting. It all started over 20 years ago…

Brett AndrewsWhen Brett and Laura Andrews started New Life with very little experience and money, they took huge risks. They were not sure how it would all happen, but Brett had a clear calling to start a church planting church that would impact not only our city, but all of the DC area and beyond. He could have chosen easier soil in the Bible belt but instead was called to DC. Brett was compelled by Jesus’ teaching on the parable of the talents. If we are faithful with the little God entrusts to our care, He will bless us with more. At every turn in our journey we can look back and see how God was at work upstream and blessed with more than we could see.

So what characterizes New Life’s story since then? The themes weaved throughout are unmistakable. Trusting God and taking seemingly irresponsible risks for him. Creating safe environments for people to pursue next steps with God no matter where they are spiritually. Expanding those environments beyond our own walls through church planting as the most effective way to live out Jesus’ command to “go” and make disciples.

When New Life was 3 years old, our leadership team had a fundamental decision to make that would shape our DNA and culture for years to come. Would we buy land and build or plant our first church? Would we take care of our own internal family needs to care for the 99 safe sheep or would we risk everything and go after the one lost sheep? Contrary to conventional wisdom, we sent 2 of our 3 staff members and a big chunk of our budget to Forefront Church, Virginia Beachplant our first church (Vince Antonucci and Forefront Church). That one profound decision to live out our stated values in a seemingly reckless and risky decision was actually our only possible choice if we were to live out the vision and calling God gave Brett before he started New Life.

That one decision has fundamentally shaped our DNA and positioned us with the responsibility of stewarding increased responsibility on the national church landscape. In 2004 our vision was to move from one church plant every 4 years to one per year. The dream seemed out of grasp at first. But God was faithful. Just 5 years later we are involved in far more than one plant per year. In recent years, New Life has been recognized as being one of the Top 25 church planting churches in America. We’ve now helped start nearly 100 churches in significant ways and have impacted untold thousands more through our church planting ministries.

It’s impossible for us to measure our church planting impact globally, but know that we are more than check writers. Yes, we commit 12% of our income to church planting. But that’s not all we do. We provide free resources and online training to church planters. We develop Exponential Logosoftware to assist church plants as they get started and offer a church planting residency for future church planters. We serve on the Leadership Teams of new churches, we coach dozens of church planters, and we provide significant leadership and other support to Exponential Network. And there’s more.

But this isn’t about us. It’s about God using us to expand His Kingdom beyond New Life. And that’s why the churches we help start are independent and while we feel a kinship with them, we don’t demand a thing in return from them. Is church planting part of our DNA? Absolutely. We are doing all we can to help as many churches get started healthy as possible. And through that, God has far surpassed our plans and goals… just like He always does.

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