1. Kingdom growth not only requires the development of larger local churches, but also more and varied local churches. Church growth research tells us that new churches are often the most effective at reaching the lost for Christ.
2. During their various stages of development, new Free Methodist churches are known as new congregation (church plant) projects, or affiliated churches in preparation for society status. The term, Free Methodist Church may be used in public reference by groups in any of these category The following guidelines provide a consistent policy framework, while allowing for flexibility in the strategy for multiplying local churches. For more information on the formation stages of new churches, please see ¶370 Introduction (The Local Church Handbook).
3. New churches are most effectively formed when they are mothered or sponsored by one or more churches. Occasionally, new churches will be established through other arrangements. In any case, new churches will normally be sponsored by an existing church or organization (such as the conference) during its initial development.
4. New Congregation (Church Plant) Projects
A New Congregation (Church Plant) Project is the first phase in the formation of new congregations.
- 4.1 Each new congregation (church plant) project must have a sponsoring organization. This may be a local church, a group of local churches, or the conference.
- 4.2 The pastor or lay leader of the new congregation (church plant) project shall be accountable to the sponsoring organization. The sponsoring organization shall provide support in the form of consultation, personnel, materials and/or finances.
- 4.3 The pastor or lay leader of a new congregation (church plant) project is responsible for preparing persons to become members. Free Methodists participating in the project may retain membership in their home church until the new project becomes established.
- 4.4 Full self-support should be reached as early as possible. The project may hold and disburse its own funds. Until a new congregation has been approved by Canada Revenue Agency as a Registered Charity, the sponsoring organization must supervise all financial transactions, and be responsible for preparing a financial review of the accounts and issuing charitable donation receipts. New congregation (church plant) projects may not hold real property.
- 4.5 The pastor or lay leader of the project may appoint a ministry committee to provide counsel and direction, under guidance from the sponsoring organization.
- 4.6 New congregation (church plant) projects are encouraged to move to society status as soon as possible. Only under exceptional circumstances, approved by the sponsoring organization and/or the board of administration, should a new congregation continue for more than three years without moving to society status.
- 4.7 A leader of a new congregation (church plant) project shall have an honorary seat in the conference, with a voice but without a vote.
- 4.8 The new congregation (church plant) project shall obtain Trade-Mark License/Association Agreements from The Free Methodist Church in Canada. (See ¶301.1)
5. Society Status
A society is the term for a fully organized local Free Methodist church.
5.1 The director of church planting, in consultation with the board of administration, may authorize a church plant to become a Free Methodist society when:
- A job description performance appraisal (JDPAS) process resulting in the development of a mission statement and ministry plan has been completed.
- The congregation is able to demonstrate that it is self-propagating (growing), self-governing (an active official board), self-supporting (financially viable, see ¶375.3.3).
5.2 The board of administration may provide a phased plan to bring the new society into full participation in all conference and denominational financial responsibilities as soon as possible. (See ¶375.3.3).