Monday, July 17, 2006

Blogposts on UU Big Ideas for Church Planting

Go to Boy in the Bands recent blog follow links for latest discussion there. I've posted a version of the following at BITB.

"At the risk of it going the way of all the other major initiatives of the UUA that have been the focus of GAs, I still imagine a GA whose theme and plenaries and workshops are highlighted around “Multiplying Your Church” or some other sexier name–also at the risk of the fact that unhealthy churches trying to multiply themselves isn’t healthy--but then who knows what might come out of it anyway?; for so long we have been trying to grow by addition within churches when we should be looking at ways the church can turn itself inside out and upside down in its community. Every church can find a way to multiple itself in some way in its community.
But a GA focused on getting churches to imagine and begin in motion the hundreds of different experimental ways of reproducing themselves would be in itself a major shift. It is something so few if any ever discuss.

Of course having said that about GA, that’s about all I would look (or want) for top-down now. On the other hand, getting the conversation going at conferences like the large church conference and mid-size church conference would help. I would rather the initiative come from the churches taking a lead. One of the problems I think we have had is making more of it than it needs to be (10 point plans and all that), which gets anxiety setting into the system. Why don’t a few churches around the country hold church planting conferences and invite church planters and those interested in it to come and pray, share visions, resources, networks, and build the momentum."

The answer to my own question above---why haven't we done this yet on a large scale? Because we have looked at growth as a program. We have looked at extension as a mission project. When it is something that the church "does" (or not)instead of something the church "is" then "it" (growth, planting, reproduction, survival in days ahead, etc.) becomes just another budget item, something alongside other worthy projects. It is the difference between a church that has a mission, and a mission that has/forms a church.

Look at all of our "mission statements" and "ad promos" of the past (uncommon denomination; a faith for you, etc.); they accentuate some version of "come to us/we are like you" (which means you won't be engaged in transformation within us, and we won't be transformed to go be with you). With this kind of DNA, church planting is and will always be alien. Of course if the UUA tried to come up with a statement in 8 syllables or less that would convey a mission statement that would impel church planting as its reason for being on the deepest spiritual level, something like but better than "Becoming God's Mission in Life" my hunch is that it would get theologically tied-up.

However, on the plus side, we have churches who see themselves as being instruments of a mission, with DNAs that are ripe for reproducing. We need to help turn them loose, so their success is measured in the number of their failed experiments. It is to these churches and leaders that we should turn and say what is holding you back?

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