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Expanding the Kingdom: Introducing the Director of Church Planting

By Lydia Gingerich, RMM staff writer

“What if we really believed that the best way to reach more people for Christ is to plant healthy, gospel-centered, reproducing local churches in rural communities and urban cities all over North America? What if we had a vision to plant 50 local churches in the next decade out of our conference to multiply the gospel, and to advance the kingdom of God?”

Larry Kaufman, in his first report as Director of Church Planting, posed those questions to the RMM board in June 2016. Earlier in May 2016, a diverse group of Conservative Mennonite Conference (CMC) constituents had met to study scripture, seek the Lord, and discuss church planting. This group sensed God calling CMC to engage and expand the Kingdom through prioritizing church planting in every church and every member within every church. Adding to this growing momentum, Pastor Larry Kaufman of Grace Mennonite Church (Millersburg, Ohio) accepted the appointment to direct the carrying out of this vision.

Larry has served as Pastor at Grace for a total of 17 years. He began to sense a call to ministry during his time in Voluntary Service in Jackson, Mississippi. “God confirmed and nurtured that sense of call when I was a student at Rosedale Bible College in the early ‘90s.” Before his time at Grace, Larry was on staff at Maple City Chapel in Goshen, Indiana.

“A lack of new churches being planted is one of the biggest threats to Christianity in North America.”Larry enjoys reading, eating, learning, and helping organizations and individuals reach their full potential. He also counts being a husband and father as “one of the great privileges of [his] life.” He has been married to his wife, Kendra, for 21 years, and they have five “awesome, kingdom-building, Jesus-loving kids”: Sarah (18), Anna (17), Samuel (13), and twins Kurt & Kate (11).

While Larry will remain as the head pastor at Grace, the congregation has released him for one day a week to dedicate his time to working as the Director of Church Planting. Both RMM and CMC are extremely grateful to Grace Mennonite Church for giving this generous gift for the benefit of the broader conference.

Larry shared his vision as Director of Church Planting: “I believe deeply in the potential of the local church to change the world for Christ. I recently came across a statistic from LifeWay Research that rocked my world. Only 4% of local churches in North America reproduce themselves through church planting. Imagine if only 4% of married couples in the US reproduced biologically? It would threaten the existence of our country in one generation. A lack of new churches being planted is one of the biggest threats to Christianity in North America. I plan to spend the rest of my life equipping leaders, and mobilizing local churches to plant new gospel-centered, multiplying churches in strategic cities and rural areas in North America. I have a sense that church planting within CMC could be a catalyst for a bolder vision, and greater gospel impact. I am ready, and believe our best days are ahead.”

Opportunities for Action:

Read JD Greear’s book, Gaining by Losing for more information and inspiration about church planting. This book identifies the values and practices of becoming a sending church.

Plant a church, if you feel led to do so. Contact Larry by email at larry@rmmoffice.org or by phone at (330)231-3733 if you share the vision to expand the Kingdom, and desire guidance in how to carry out that vision.

Pray for CMC as we seek God in composing a clear church planting strategy by the end of 2016.