“Church multiplication is about planting when it’s right, not easy.”
Those words are from Mike Mazzye, pastor at Renovation Church in North Syracuse, New York. In 2021, their church sent a team led by church planter Bernie Elliot to nearby Baldwinsville, New York, to plant Covenant Church.
There are natural challenges that come with church planting, as with any new endeavor. With the proper support, training, and prayerful guidance, planting a new church is exciting and promising—but it certainly isn’t easy. The support of sending churches is crucial but also sacrificial.
Mike and his team planted Renovation Church in 2013, and he said he “never planned to grow a huge church.” This might seem counterintuitive to some, as we see many churches with thousands of attendees each week, but that isn’t the reality for most. No matter the size, missional church planting is about faithfully obeying Christ and his gospel. New churches are planted to share this life-changing truth and invite others to the healing and hopeful message of the gospel.
Renovation Church was almost ten years old when they started planning to plant a new church, and they had around 100 members. The process was slow and thoughtful—it wasn’t established overnight. Their team began praying about the possibility of planting in the neighboring town of Baldwinsville, which was already home to a few people making the drive to North Syracuse. They mobilized current families and members and asked them to consider joining the church planting effort.
Bernie and his family came alongside Renovation as they officially began planning the launch of Covenant Church in Baldwinsville, New York. Their groundwork wasn’t hasty. Neither Mike nor Bernie were new to church planting, as Bernie was part of the sending church for Renovation. It was important to them that they send a strong core team with mature believers. They were laying a foundation with wisdom and care, and nearly 18 months later, Covenant Church held its first service.
Renovation sent around 30 members from their congregation to join Covenant in Baldwinsville. This was an immense blessing for Covenant—to begin their planting journey with a strong group of Christians primed to disciple newcomers. It was a solid and healthy start for their church but didn’t come without sacrifice.
Mike recalls a Sunday after Covenant launched when he looked around and saw empty seats once filled with beloved friends. These friends were still on mission with Renovation, but it looked different now. When asked if this discouraged him, Mike didn’t hesitate to answer, “No.” His congregation shrunk by nearly a third. Although difficult and uncertain, there was peace—they knew it was supposed to be this way.
This is what it looks like to plant healthy churches. You can establish teams, garner community support, and raise money, but your efforts must be primed with discipleship and prayer. Mike, Bernie, and their respective congregations know that having “big numbers” on a Sunday morning is not the goal. They serve, worship, preach, and pray together to glorify God and reach their unbelieving neighbors. “Church multiplication is about planting when it’s right, not easy.” –Mike Mazzye Click To Tweet
Almost a year after planting, Covenant has grown to a weekly attendance of over a hundred. Likewise, Renovation now has around 100 people joining them on Sundays. What began as one church with a prayer to plant is now two churches, reaching two cities with double the number of people. They stepped out on faith, and God added with abundance. Mike and Bernie say they’re already praying about another area near them needing a gospel-centered church.
Missional multiplication may be costly, but it’s a call we can’t ignore. Renovation sacrificed time, resources, and people to ensure Covenant had a healthy start. Covenant will likely do the same for a new church plant one day. By God’s grace, the cycle will continue—for the good of communities around the world and the glory of God.