I love adventure and the outdoors. Our family loves to explore the outdoors, and we’ve spent a lot of time in the outdoors; backpacking, hiking, fishing, and exploring. We began taking our sons on backpacking trips when they were very young, introducing them to tent camping and cooking over a fire at a young age. My wife and I grew up on the East coast near the Appalachian Mountains, so taking our boys backpacking in Kentucky was not hard for us.
When we moved to Colorado in 2017, we found ourselves in unknown territory. The Rocky Mountains present different challenges than the Appalachians, and we sought out advice and counsel from native Coloradoans to help us learn. We asked questions at the local outdoor stores and learned from trial and error. We needed the partnership of others to help us transition to exploring in the Rockies.
In the same way, planting churches requires deep partnership. In Philippians 1:3, Paul begins his letter to the Philippian church, a church he planted, thanking them for their partnership with him to spread the gospel. Deep partnership is not something that should be taken lightly or for granted. As Paul notes in his letter to the Philippians, it is something worth thanking God for often and frequently.
In Philippians 1:3, Paul begins his letter to the Philippian church, a church he planted, thanking them for their partnership with him to spread the gospel.
Our planting journey is full of deep partnerships. Our sending church, Buck Run Baptist is a 200-year-old church with a rich history of spreading the gospel worldwide. I first came to Buck Run as an intern in student ministry, transitioning to student pastor soon after that. I met my wife there, and we served in student ministry for ten years before I transitioned to the Executive Pastor position.
Under the leadership of Dr. Hershael York, I gained an understanding of the value of deep partnerships. I watched and learned as Dr. York led Buck Run to invest in churches in Romania, Brazil, and beyond. The reach of Buck Run is great and during my time as Executive Pastor, I began to sense the call to church planting on my own life.
In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he expounds upon their deep partnership with him in sharing the gospel and meeting needs. One of the partnerships we established while at Buck Run was with Matthew Perry, the lead pastor of Arapahoe Road Baptist Church in Centennial, Colorado. Matt Perry was connected to Dr. York and was in need of a mission team to help with construction projects at his church in Centennial.
A sending church is a church willing to commission a planter and his team to go to a place to begin a new gospel work.
In the summer of 2015, I led a team of students to Centennial to meet this need. My wife and sons tagged along to help and see Colorado. It was while we were serving at Arapahoe Road that God confirmed our calling to church planting in Colorado. This partnership with Matt Perry and Arapahoe Road served to fuel the spread of the gospel in Centennial and beyond.
Our team was able to help Arapahoe Road with their construction projects while also doing community outreach. This partnership was more than a student mission trip. It was a gospel opportunity that resulted in my wife and I gaining a sense of direction for the call to church planting that I had been sensing.
When we returned from that trip, I began conversations with Buck Run about church planting and their partnership as our sending church grew. A sending church is a church willing to commission a planter and his team to go to a place to begin a new gospel work. This is the healthiest way for a church plant to begin. Buck Run was committed to sending us and the families and individuals willing to go with us.
Deep partnership is something developed over time and is not just an ask for money.
Over the next year and half, we began the process of partner development. This seeking of churches and individuals willing to cooperate with us as we committed to take the gospel to Fort Collins, Colorado was vital to our success in planting Overland Church. Deep partnership is something developed over time and is not just an ask for money.
The apostle Paul speaks of this in Philippians 1 when he mentions that the Philippians have partnered in many ways, not just financially. They have been partners with him in his time of trouble and as he’s proclaimed the gospel. We sought the same type of partners. People and churches that were willing to invest for the long-haul.
Deep cooperation in church planting results in much fruit. This is true for the church plant and for those who partner with the planter and planting team. Buck Run graciously allowed us to raise individual partners from within even as they were our sending church. We “double-dipped” so to speak. As we sought to raise up individual partners from within, we brought along people who committed to follow our planting journey. They not only invested their money, but they invested their hearts and attention to the work being done in Fort Collins. This is a deeper partnership than just sending a monthly check.
As we’ve lived intentionally in our city and on the campus of Colorado State, the churches and individuals who have partnered with us have traveled the journey with us.
As we built partnerships outside of Buck Run, we brought on churches and individuals with the same hope—that they would invest not just their money, but their hearts and attention. God allowed us to partner with churches and individuals willing to make a long-term commitment. Because of their deep partnership, much fruit has been seen on both sides of the partnership.
In Philippians 4:14-20, Paul writes of the fruit that has increased because of the Philippians’ partnership with him. The gospel was proclaimed, churches were planted, and Paul was encouraged because the Philippians partnered with him. Even more than that, the Philippians’ faith increased. This deep partnership results in much fruit for the sake of the kingdom of God.
At Overland Church, we have seen this type of fruit. Our church has grown numerically and spiritually as we’ve seen God save people and grow people for His glory. As we’ve lived intentionally in our city and on the campus of Colorado State, the churches and individuals who have partnered with us have traveled the journey with us. When we rejoiced to baptize someone, our partners have rejoiced in the baptism. We have truly seen a deep participation in the expansion of the kingdom of God.
From the beginning of our planting journey, our partners have known that our strategy is to be a church that plants churches.
Deep partnership results in multiplication. Because we have partnered deeply, multiplication occurs. From the beginning of our planting journey, our partners have known that our strategy is to be a church that plants churches. This is what they have partnered to do. In cooperating with us to do that, they have rejoiced when we’ve sent out one or two people other places and most recently when we’ve sent out our first church planting team to Durango, Colorado.
Paul writes of this shared rejoicing when he writes to the Philippians. Because they were joined in the same work of gospel proclamation and kingdom expansion, the success of one is the success of all. That is how our partnerships work. Without these deep partners, Overland Church would not be what she is. The prayers of the partners and the support of the partners are as important as the prayers and support of the members of Overland. We cooperate together to spread the gospel to Fort Collins and beyond.