Monday, June 22, 2009
NEW! and IMPROVED!
But here, it seems to me what some church planters do is more akin to fostering envy. Their new church is hotter. Their new church is cooler. Their new church meets a felt need not addressed by the church across the street. So people in that community shuffle from church to church. Or the new church plant sucks completely dry some older church that wasn’t quite as hip. And the church planter gets a pat on the back for doing a fine job moving people from Them to Us.And two days later,Al Mohler, commenting on a Fred Barnes column, writes in praise of church planting. Quoting Barnes:
There's a theory behind church planting. It rejects the idea of trying to fill up existing churches before building new ones. Old churches are often "closed clubs" that don't attract new residents or young people or "the lost," says the Rev. Johnny Kurcina, an assistant pastor of The Falls Church. Besides, population increase far exceeds church growth in America. This is especially true in cities.Frankly, I saw everybody's point in all of this. Mohler and Barnes are reacting to what is an extremely common occurrence - an existing church culture that is off-putting to a large segment in the community and Edelen is reacting to the lack of spiritual depth produced by the media frenzy that is often associated with new church plants in well-churched areas.
There must be, of course, some middle road between these declared poles. I have some ideas. For one, it is natural that as people mature in a Christian community, some will feel a call to ministry. I some cases that call may be to a neighboring plant. And this makes sense, given that it is inevitable that any institution develops a culture that both feeds the institution and limits the pool of people that would be attracted to it.
The real need here is to make sure that good people are making good decisions, in prayer and supplication. I think there is little doubt that there is too much church planting going on - much of it motivated by the desire for self-ministerial-expression for the planter rather than the genuine needs of the community and guidance of the Holy Spirit. But that does not mean there is no role for ministry of this type. So what to do?
May I suggest building disciples? You see, if a church focuses its efforts in that direction - the other question, like the suitability of a plant and who to do it, will be obvious. People genuinely involved in being God's people should make good decisions. That is how discipleship is supposed to work. Good disciples will have a feel for when a community needs a new plant and when it needs to reinvigorate and existing one. Good disciples will seek ministry for good reasons, not mere ego gratification.
Jesus never laid out a blueprint for the church, He focused on making good disciples so they made good decisions in circumstances as they presented themselves.
Think about it.