Friday, July 11, 2008

The Questions I'd Ask (updated)

(for those who have been to this post before, I have updated point number 10: also see related posts here on church planting killers, and on the basics recently posted back in june i think)

If someone is interested in "starting a new church", here are the questions I would ask to help with their discernment, and to pass on to others who will be helping on their team. Not sure they are in any particular order of importance.

1. Is it necessary for you to be paid as a church planter? Can you be bivocational or trivocational? Do you have to be paid right away or how long can you imagine putting it off?
I would encourage not being paid or more than a nominal pro forma bit. It will keep that anxiety out of your system, and the new plant's, and if you are paid by denominational folks and have lots of resources, try to be clear that being paid doesn't equate with quick results that they might have in mind.

2. The classic question: are you "starting" or "planting"? Being organizational or organic?

3. The classic question: are you planting a church or a church that will plant churches?

4. Do you have to think of it as a "church" or can you do what you are intending and think of it as a "mission."?

5. What do you think of when you think about "church"? Does it have to fit a default mode image? Does it have to have worship, for example, and if so, does that worship have to fit a form, and for how long could you plant without worshipping? Would praying, sharing, all as part of relationship work as worship? Could you see fulfilling worship by going as a group to other churches for dynamic worship while you build relationships, discipleship, missionaries?

6. Do you have a team of folks praying regularly with you about the plant, and coaching?

7. Are you ready to do a lot of relationship work right off the bat with your team---personality types, theology, and above all, family systems work and conflict peace-making learning?

8. Can you envision creating a team to help you from the beginning without having to advertise publicly for the team and new members? In fact can you imagine not having "members" and not voting?

9. Do you have your own clear understanding of the DNA, mission, vision, values, and can you express it easily and have a tagline for your plant that is under 8 words and preferrably under 8 syllables? Actually do you have this for yourself and your own life?

10. Do you have a particular local area of the world you want to impact with your planting? Context. Context context and location, location, location. Are you trying to reach everybody? Are you expecting cultural creatives? Those who think they are well off and functional and healthy, or those who know they aren't? Can you bring a global sense to the local? And what is the age of folks who are on your team, or that you are trying to reach? Know generational cultures and how they relate to what people's default modes and expectations of church are. Doesn't mean you have to kick out folks who fall outside a certain age range, but you will need to do some extra work either relating them one to the other or helping people into your own vision. I was just thinking how at the first gathering of the group that is now The Living Room Church and A Third Place Community Center, I was the youngest one there, but now, at 54, five years later, I am usually if not always the oldest one present.

11. Have there been any major life changes or stresses in your life in the past 12 months, or expected to be? deaths, breakups, divorces, births, moving? These will all have huge affects on what you try to do.

12. How comfortable are you with failure and flexibility? Can you and those on your team and those supporting you see the success in certain failures? Can you actually build in failure into your DNA so it will allow you to change and grow as needed?

13. Are you crazy about Jesus and his ways and can't help immersing yourself in them, and making them your story?

14. Are you prepared for miracles and have eyes to see and ears to hear when they happen, and the ability to cast them before others? That will be more important than if you are introvert or extrovert. Though knowing your own story, your own fallibilities and where others are much stronger than you, is invaluable. There is a reason why the early church had some designated in different but equal roles; you don't have to be both main preacher, proclaimer, evangelist, teacher, social justice coordinator, musician, worship arts crafter, relationship builder and maintainer, etc. etc.

15. Can you learn from others? Travel to other new plants in your area or near you or to those you read about? Can you do crash courses in reading and website and online planting learning and yet not fall in love with a model of planting or someone else's experience?

16. Do you have an already existing extended field of family and friends and connections professionally, etc. in the immediate area of your plant?

That will do for now off the cuff and top of my head. Add your own not here.

Type rest of the post here

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