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Key Church-planting Questions

16 Sep

I posted on David Fitch’s thoughts on the early stages of church planting yesterday here.  I think he is 100% correct.

In the same post, he offers two important follow-up questions for the young church plant:

A) Do we need a pastor or a community organizer? My contention is naming someone a “pastor” – dare I say “Senior Pastor” – starts to order the community’s life around this one person’s centralized leadership. It sets up the community for expectations that this one person shall provide for certain needs, services and the making of decisions. The community’s life becomes a centralized orbit around this one person as opposed to a dispersed activity (of God) living in and among the neighborhood. This habit will be almost impossible to overcome in the years ahead. I suggest putting off naming someone “the pastor.” Instead name him/her the “community organizer.” There will be a time and a place to name pastors (I purposely put this in the plural). But at the beginning stages a single pastor could really jam up the workings of a missional community’s involvement in the community and participation in the work.

B) Do we meet in a sanctuary or a living room? My contention is that meeting in a sanctuary (i.e. a meeting place with rows and a pulpit) is bad for meeting the goals of the first year as stated above. Meeting in rows, with a pulpit up front creates a passivized audience but it also creates a certain expectation as to what church should be. This expectation will be almost impossible to overcome in the years that lie ahead. Instead we need to develop relationships. We need a space to voice questions and dialogue. We need to hear stories of what God is doing and express hardships and ask “what is God saying?” This is why I suggest the first year’s gathering should have the feel of a living room as opposed to a service in a sanctuary. There will be a time and place to start the rhythm of more formalized preaching/worship. But this itself should be an extension of the fellowship that is developed during this one crucial year.

I can say we did both these things for the first 6 months, though unwittingly… and it worked out well.  What do you think?

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1 Comment

Posted by on September 16, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

One response to “Key Church-planting Questions

  1. Ben D.

    September 16, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    <p>Hey Nate</p><p>David Fitch has written a couple o f books, but none on church planting that I am aware of. </p><p>The book I have read of his is "The Great Giveaway: Reclaiming the Mission of the Church from Big Business, Parachurch Organizations, Psychotherapy, Consumer Capitalism, and Other Modern Maladies" (http://www.amazon.com/Great-Giveaway-Reclaiming-Organizations-Psychotherapy/dp/080106483X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;s=books&amp;qid=1284841266&amp;sr=8-1).</p><p>I think the real key for successful church planting is to be able to operate at both micro and macro levels at the same time — focus on community, relationships, organic — while also building systems and strategies for growth. The other key is that those systems and strategies should always be "below the surface" and also focused on creating sustainable space for relationships, community, etc.</p><p>I think farming is a good analogy. Organic farmers are no less strategic and don’t work less than traditional farmers… in fact, sometimes being organic is much more difficult and challenging… and takes systems, etc. So it is not one or other, but getting the timing correct (Fitch’s main point re the first 2 years) and getting the balance/focus/priorities right.</p><p>My thoughts…</p><p>BD</p>

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