An experienced church planter from the United Church of Canada reflects on what she observes in this issue of good idea!
If Church Planting is simply a matter of finding and operating the right technology, we have entered a new and frightening universe: a world where almost no one remembers how babies are made. Alarmed at the looming spectre of extinction, experts are called, seminars convened, machinery set into motion. In the end a few more of the species are brought into being, but many are sickly and cannot survive without continuous life support: a kind of bubble church.
Of course church planting is not biotechnology–although some denominations spend tremendous resources producing a few new congregations in vitro every year. No: in every time and place, new churches are a creative act of God through people gathered in Christian Community, doing what people in Christian Community have always done–unless we forget how.
Listen to these words:
. . . . First, the church planter has to believe that people out there are lost and need God in their lives. How they express that can take different forms, but they need to have a passion to connect people to God. Kevin Martin
. . . .carefully planned and prayerfully executed . . . . Duke Vipperman
If we wish to continue reaching out to those who need to know Jesus Christ, we have to walk in the faith of the early disciples. We believe that, when we walk in this faith, God will provide for the rest of our needs. Marsha Mundy
We have reorganized parishes again and again–tinkering with the multi-point and team-ministry models. But none of this has effectively stopped the decline. . . . . The real long-term measure of our success will be how well we are able to attract, evangelize, and turn into disciples those who were not previously living for Christ. Vicars Hodge
Do these sentences represent the western church of the 21st Century? To what era do they belong?
New churches cannot be created merely as a matter of priority for dwindling denominations and diminishing dollars. They are born of vibrant faith unable to contain its love for Christ and love of neighbour. Decide for yourself what propels the newest churches in our midst.
The apostles may have been on to something.