**Let me start off by saying that I am part of 3 year old church plant. I was also a part of another church plant that was put on hold after being open for a few months. I am NOT leaving my church. Church planting is a weird phenomenon and I just had some questions and thoughts about it.***
Here’s something that I’ve been stewing on a bit lately: Church Planting.
Why do people plant churches? Having been a part of a church plant, I know why we planted – we were asked if we would like to and we did. But having talked to various church planters and having read their “manifestos” or their ideas for a new beginning, I wonder why people plant. Here are a couple reasons that I’ve heard of or seen that disappoint, make me question, or make me think about church planting.
Reason #1 They are doing it all wrong or We are going to do things differently. First off, this language has a very splitting tone to it. People tend to talk like this and it can come across as divisive (Suffice to say, this is probably the worst reason to plant a church). Some church plants (not all) seem to have go about it with the idea that they are doing what is right, and the other churches have it wrong. This is an idea that I’ve seen come out of my own heart and mouth, and I admit it. But the thing is, one day I came to the realization that God speaks to everybody in different ways. I’ve met people who met Jesus through TBN programming or what some may consider shady televangelists. Even myself, a man who came to know Christ on a Greyhound bus while reading a book called WWJD. God speaks to people in ways that only He could, so this idea of I can do it better is not only offensive, but it is wrong. Nobody does it better than God.
Another part of it is the idea of we do it differently because this is how the early church did it. Alot of churches seem to plant under the premises of Acts 2. They share meals, do service projects together, meet at home churches – the live, learn and love together. I admire this idea. We do a bit of these at our church. But I wonder if sometimes people focus more on trying to be different and have different approaches to church rather than sharing the gospel at times.
Reason #2 The church needs a jumpstart. This is an interesting idea. It may go the route of Reason #1, but hear me out. I believe that the church does need a jumpstart at times. Sometimes the church may seem stale and in need of some refreshing. The fault though, is that these jumpstarts sometimes come out as simply a smaller version of where they came from. We hear the term of “cookie cutter” churches and I think this might be the fault in these jumpstarts. Sometimes what they are doing is being done in a bigger, better, more attractive way around the corner, and they are simply reinventing the wheel.
Reason #3 This is the direction that the church is headed. Unfortunately, I’ve seen and heard a bunch of stories of churches who plant for this reason. When I was at Trinity Western University, I met a few people who were planting based on the book, “The Shaping of Things to Come” and the ideas that it produced. After this book, (and well before it) there were a slew of books that began to be published centered around this idea. Right before the missional movement in the church, there was the emergent movement which was preceded by the postmodern movement, which was preceded by the mega church movement, etc, etc. So to plant based on the movement of the church could prove to be a little strange.
Reason #4 We need to reach the unchurched that aren’t being reached! I have people telling me all the time that Whatcom County is the least churched county in the Nation! I haven’t seen or read this statistic anywhere for my own eyes, so I don’t know the validity of this charge (if you have a link please send it to me). I don’t really know if this is a valid reason to start a church. Sometimes when we plant like this, we may give off the impression that we are there but we want them to come to us. If this was the reason, then why didn’t we stay at the other church in the first place. Another thing that happens is that when we try to reach the “unchurched” we may be trying to fit a square peg in a circle. In other words, we plant without knowing the culture. All we know is that unchurched people live there and God calls us to go and make disciples. But sometimes we take this great commission over the greatest commandment and we forget to love God and our neighbor. Simply making them disciples without even knowing them.
Again, I am not bagging on Church Plants. I have seen many church plants do amazing things! I have just been thinking of them a little more. Your Thoughts?