Friday, April 27, 2007

Becoming Missional and other links

I mentioned in my comments in the post below how much I like Becoming Missional Check it out. Plus I am going to be updating all of my links, so pass on ones here in the comment section to this post that you think I might want to link to that I haven't yet just in case yours/they aren't on my list to update. Also, for some of my favorites in my Tulsa area, I have just linked to the Emergent Tulsa Cohort and from that page you can click on several of the local bloggers. Anyway it might be next week but the updated links will be coming soon. End.

Type rest of the post here

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"a third place" gets notice

Our missional incarnational approach here in Turley, OK with the creation of 'a third place' as part of our planting got written up today in the Tulsa World. Here is the link where you can read the article.

I guess, since there is no mention in the article of me as a minister and of the creation of the center as a way that our church is serving the community, of how we are purposefully becoming "a guest in our own home" as a spiritual discipline, that it must be working. No seriously, when I first read the article, my old default mode of thinking went up and I thought "oh I wish they'd mentioned the church" but if they had, since we are not only serving people of existing religious affiliations but especially the de-churched and unchurched, I probably would have thought "oh I wish they hadn't played up the church so much." Such is the plight of the 50-something planter moving more into missional approaches to what it means to be church.

We don't have a sign that says the name of our church or even a flier out front that we meet in the space we have created (we did but I took it down); we do have a flier for the church that is available in the community information area but we also post information prominently about events that take place at other churches in our area; we do have a cross placed next to the cable television area but I have been debating about taking it out and just bringing it out, in a kind of processional, whenever we have our meetings (still haven't decided; there are pros and cons). Upshot is that people will find out about us first through our mission, our work together, and through conversation rather than some printed material, a sign, slogans, or worship service.

The fact that it all feels weird, disorienting to people's stereotypes of church, means we are on the right track I think. End.

Type rest of the post here

Friday, April 13, 2007

Anti-Planting Attitudes, and More

Following up on the post below, here are some items lifted from the special Net Results issue on church planting.

From George Bullard's radical church planting letter: You've got to move away from anti-church planting attitudes such as:

--We cannot start new congregations because of all the empty seats we have in existing congregations. Fill up our churches first and then we can start new congregations....because they may take away some of our members, particularly those who no longer live close to our church...because they will compete with us for new members. We have at least one family from every neighborhood within three miles of our church. So we are reaching those neighborhoods.

---Our denominational region plans to start about one new congregation every three to five years now. That is a great improvement over the past when we started a new congregation about every five to seven years....starting new is too expensive to start too many of them. We have to hire a pastor-developer and pay that salary. We have to buy land. We have to build the first building. With all that investment we are lucky to be able to start one church every five years....we hve to make sure they are started right, so we have to go slowly and deliberately to guide them appropriately and make sure they understand the principles of faithfulness.

---We are not a rich region. we cannot put together the large amount of money needed to start a new congregation. We tried a capital fund campaign several years ago for it and it failed. It is more important for the denominational staff to work with churches that are plateaued and declining and need renewal. They have been paying their dues in money and service to the denomination and deserve more than a new congregation. Church planters must be approved by our denomination. Too few candidates exist. Our seminaries do not emphasize it and there must be good reasons for this.

Denominations tend to have three attitudes about church planting, with varying results.

1. If there is a "Church planting initiative" in your denomination, then among the various things the denomination does is to seek to plant churches. (instead of its being the denomination's reason for being. Think what a change that would mean). Those who adopt initiative-mindsets rely on the denomination to start churches at least 80 percent of the time. Often the starts come from split-offs. With this mindset you might get new congregations coming into existence each year that is equal to or less than 1 percent of the churches already in existence. This is where the UUA is, at best.

2. If there is a "Church planting strategy" denominations focus their activities on making it a core value through training of leaders, marketing it as a sell to local churches. After 10 years of sustained attention you will see changes in the church culture. At first some easy to launch churches will start where people have been waiting for support; then next some existing churches will begin to start the process; the final part of that first ten years the new congregations themselves will begin to look to becoming partners and sponsors of other new ones. If the denomination seeks to control the church planting efforts of the newer congregations, there will be some incremental increases in new church plants each year moreso than those with the initiative mind-set. If they don't seek to control the newly-planted churches, then the third mind-set might take hold.

3. If there is a "church planting movement" mind-set, it is radically different from what currently exists. It can't be directly initiated from the denomination, but must be grassroots (but denominational seeding of such grassroots culture can help). You pull together pastors and leaders who have been engaged in it and challenging them to take it to new level. Accountability should be by planting peers and not denominational officials. It can't accept too many external resources. It happens when people live the truth that "the natural reproduction of congregations that begins to occur in the midst of a spiritual environment where new congregations of all types are seen as the best way to extend and expand the kingdom of God. It is a spiritual movement more than it is a strategic plan....Leaders are from the grassroots...It is tough to put a ceiling on how much growth in congregations can take place through a church planting movement." Growth of a minimum of 5 percent each year in the number of new congregations within a collection of congregations is a beginning point."

Here is an example of a beginning church planting movement: Go to The Northwoods Story:Go to
It is an oft-repeated story. Northwoods started out to do big mega-church but decided to spread out instead. Still have 2,000 at original site but have 30,000 through 80 congregations started instead. Starting 15 new ones per year. It's about having a "kingdom" perspective, not institutional organizational perspective. Funny how we progressives so often don't translate our community-minded "kingdom" social gospel approach into planting in the same spirit. Maybe there is something safe about having church as a safe place to retreat to in between our forays into making the world a better place, but if we truly want to do it we need to turn things inside out and re-create the church as kingdom-work.

From Bob Roberts from Northwood: "Every church member seen as a church planter." I love it. Changes everything. Need to start instilling that. Once you get your mind around that, it makes missional and incarnational and relational church planting more understandable. Note what this does to membership expectations.

---" Powerful, personal worship is key." Here is another paradigm portal. A real controversial place of pushing the ecclesia. See earlier posts about worship. How often does our image and addiction to "corporate worship" and size in worship prevent us from doing the real prayerful spiritual work that is needed and that would lead us to being missionaries wherever we are? Can people envision church without worship as they are used to it? Small group worship and even two to three prayer groups and even personal prayer time, immersing in music, silence, nature, scripture, singing to God by yourself, engaging in art deeply, all this can be meaningful worship that drives us to create communities and relationships, instead of the regular Sunday worship event trapping us from doing so.

The Disciples of Christ vision was to start 100 new congregations a year, 1000 in 1000 different ways. So far after five years they have close to 450 new congregations. They are supporting their planters with training, grants, global experiences. Healthy church planters start healthy congregations. Everyone is coupled with a mentoring coach. ---From Ed Stetzer: Churches start churches. He has a list of 72 church planting organizations. this is a new phenomenon of the past 20 years, and more recently within that time frame....You can, and denominations do, pour millions into churches that are broken. Revitalizing existing churches is a great idea, but no one has been able to do that. We need to help churches transform, but we need to start new ones too. And we need to do it not just with "good people" who stand in front of other good people and tell them how to be good, to quote Mark Twain. Stetzer says for forty years we have made the church better, spruced up buildings, spiced up worship, made sermons practical, and the culture is "more lost" and people who go to church are less committed.

--From Ronny Russell: an oldie but goodie--if someone comes to a church leader with an idea and passion for a new ministry how many hoops will they have to jump through? (If I was in search that would be the basis of my first question to folks looking for a new minister)....Church can become like little bands of disciples going about Galillee and Judea following Jesus. Others will see and hear and want to join.

---From Tom Bandy.: Who cares if your church exists? (another good search question.) but better yet, Does God care it exists? Stop talking lovingly amongst yourself and talk more lovingly among strangers. The codependency between laity and clergy is the most significant block to mission growth. 1. Take away money from institutional maintenance and put it into relevant programs for the public. Don't stop with programs, but with programs that lead to conversations in the community. Be a mentor to those in community in need. Have a single signature ministry in the zip code.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

New07 Conference & Net Results issue

Looks like an exciting conference coming up with a strong focus on church planting. Go to Also simply wonderful and moving and inclusive articles in the Mar./April 2007 issue of Net Results, A big focus in the magazine on the happenings planting-wise within the Disciples of Christ. As you all may know from my previous posts I am a big fan of what the DOC vision is, and it is sustaining itself with good sprouts so far. A good workable model that the UUA and UCC should be immersing in. I will come back here and post more excerpts post-Easter. End, for now.

Type rest of the post here

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

An Emergent Manifesto of Hope

Heads up on a great new collection of essays "An Emergent Manifesto of Hope" edited by Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones. It is a book I have been waiting for...primarily because it updates the "whole emergent" thing and includes within it a range of voices from three previously muted parts of the community--women, the "mainstream" denominations, and people engaged in liberation and social justice-focused ministry.

For an inside look at the table of contents, an excerpt, etc. go to:

I will be posting more from it post-Easter. But here is a teaser from Brian McLaren's contribution in it about the need for a post-colonial Christianity in the West.

"In this way, we do not see ourselves as the emerging church--meaning a slice, sector, or division of the church that is roughly analogous to "the charismatic church" or "the seeker church." Instead, we see ourselves as the church emerging, meaning a growing edge of the church at large in all its forms, stretching from the margins into new territory beyond modern, Western Christianity.....Kenzo's question "Will evangelical faith break or stretch?" also applies to traditional (or mainline) Protestant faith, Roman Catholic faith, and Eastern Orthodox faith. I know that many of my traditional Protestant friends think they have this whole problem solved. They have had diversity training, after all. Now I am all for diversity training, but I can't help but think that many of the struggles my traditional Protestant friends face are rooted in the fact that their structures are essentially colonial structures--designed not for empowerment at the margins but for control from the center, and the center is nearly always a place of white or Western privilege...."

End, for now. More to come soon.

Type rest of the post here

'a third place' and recent readings

I have three books I am reading and re-visiting now as we get closer to going public with our "a third place" community center located here in Turley, OK as a way of becoming a more incarnational church. (To keep up with this movement from attractional to incarnational church send me an email and I will place you on our weekly email list). I recommend these books, in addition to the ones by Hirsch and Frost commented on earlier here, for anyone wishing to start a new way of being in relationship with people already coming to your church or with those who don't, haven't, and won't come--but with whom you can still be in deep relationship, which is what counts.

The three books are:

1. "The Gospel According to Starbucks: Living with a Grande Passion" by Leonard Sweet (great conversation guide included; I will be using this post Easter as we finish with the DVD series "Saving Jesus.").
2. "The Great Good Place: cafes, coffee shops, bookstores, bars, hair salons and other hangouts at the heart of a community" by Ray Oldenburg
3. "Brand Lands, Hot Spots & Cool Spaces: Welcome to the Third Place and the Total Marketing Experience" by Christian Mikunda.
I will be excerpting from them. But if you have read these or can recommend others in the same vein, please do. TIA.

Type rest of the post here