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
http://www.northwoodchurch.org.
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.




9 comments:

Micky said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Stephen said...

What if your denomination hasn't planted a church in 100 years?

Ron said...

Stephen, hi. I'd have to know more. Have the churches themselves within the denomination planted any new churches? That is more effective than denominations doing it. But if there have been no new churches in 100 years, I'd like to know the statistics on denominational weekly attendance (not membership figures) vs. the population of the country, and a comparison with what that was 100 years ago and what the ratio is now. My hunch is that the denomination has replaced being a church with any kind of connection with the mission of early followers of Jesus who created what it means to be church, to being a museum society committed to the maintenance of church as it was 100 years ago, which is to say it is today still doing good work for a few but fewer people, though probably mostly living off of endowments from the passion of people past, rather than wondering how Christ can be incarnated in the cultures of today and tomorrow, and taking the radical risks that following Christ commands.

Stephen said...

Ron, everything you've said is completely correct.

Background to what I'm talking about is here:
http://reigniteuk.blogspot.com/2007/03/church-planting-in-historical.html

It's very difficult to get even membership numbers, let alone attendance figures for the churches. Perhaps this is something I need to take on, though large statistical research doesn't really turn me on.

Right now I'm just beginning to try to get c-h-u-r-c-h-p-l-a-n-t-i-n-g on the agenda, as no one is talking about it.

Ron said...

Stephen, thanks. Join the club :)...Sometimes statistics can be pretty powerful attention-getters. Along with stories of the church planting going in other denominations. From what I read, there are some exciting things happening in the U.K. with new forms of planting, worship, mission. One of the things I liked from the recent Net Results issue on church planting was the categorization of church leaders into three types: undertakers, caretakers (who eventually become undertakers) and risk-takers.

Stephen said...

I like that three types of church leaders, I'm going to use that. I suppose what I'd like to hear from you is how to counter those anti-planting attitudes, especially the first one that we can't plant new churches one while the old ones still need filling.

Ron said...

Stephen, all one can do is probably point out the results of not changing and the results in others who have done it. Changing attitudes like that are as difficult (because they are the reason for it) as trying to transform an existing church into a church-planting or missional church; it can be done, but takes massive leadership and stamina and a concentration on the people at the fringes, newcomers, etc. They say doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the mark of insanity; :) you might use that line too. There is a truth there. Also dont' align yourself mentally, emotionally, spiritually with those who are taking that attitude (there is good work to be done trying to fill the pews of existing churches; it just doesn't have to be our mission) but instead with the few who get it, and then "live as if you have already won!" (to use a line out of the book, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope.

Stephen said...

Thanks Ron. That reminds me of a line in Quaker Faith and Practice, but also a truth I sort of worked out for myself from the teaching of Jesus: you have to work to create the Kingdom of God by living as if you are already in the Kingdom (and it is in you).

freefun0616 said...

酒店經紀人,
菲梵酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,
禮服酒店上班,
酒店小姐兼職,
便服酒店經紀,
酒店打工經紀,
制服酒店工作,
專業酒店經紀,
合法酒店經紀,
酒店暑假打工,
酒店寒假打工,
酒店經紀人,
菲梵酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,
禮服酒店上班,
酒店經紀人,
菲梵酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,
禮服酒店上班,
酒店小姐兼職,
便服酒店工作,
酒店打工經紀,
制服酒店經紀,
專業酒店經紀,
合法酒店經紀,
酒店暑假打工,
酒店寒假打工,
酒店經紀人,
菲梵酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,
禮服酒店上班,
酒店小姐兼職,
便服酒店工作,
酒店打工經紀,
制服酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,

,酒店,