The last weeks have reminded me of foundational principles. For 4 days I was part of a dialogue with people committed to multiplying church planting in Europe. This started 4 years ago when we gathered about 30 people deeply involved in planting and reaching postmoderns. We met in Wittenberg – within meters of the Castle Church door where it is believed Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses, ‘points he thought were in need of serious, ecclesial discussion.’ Phyllis Tickle writes, ‘Without meaning to, Luther had exposed the church of his time as stagnant, moribund, and – more to the point – too small to contain either God or a new world order.’ In other words, the world had changed and God required of him a dramatic, even revolutionary, response!
What response might be needed now? The stories/ideas in this NEWS represent some responses!
Be courageous & faithful,
CHURCH PLANTING NEWS – 3 Nov 2011
Burnt Oak – Prayer Foundations: A church in North Wembley (London) spent a week in prayer – during which Pauline felt deeply impressed that God wanted her to plant a new faith group in Burnt Oak. She shared this with two others – surprised to learn that they had separately been impressed of the same! This encourages them when the going gets tough – a bit like Paul being encouraged by God’s assurance that he should not be discouraged in Corinth (Acts 18:9, 10).
The Grandmother-Granddaughter Plan: Rather than thinking of a Mother-Daughter relationship between church and church-plant, the Grandmother metaphor may work better. Mums tend to be very protective, even controlling, of their daughters – but Grandmothers are extravagant in their blessings, love, gifts, counsel, encouragement and release. That attitude works well when a local church is supporting and encouraging multiplying new church plants!
Multicultural Team Reaches Diverse Groups: A small church plant in Clackton-on-Sea – with a core team from a variety of nationalities, is reaching diverse unchurched people, including Caucasian English. An important factor is the high profile position of their community house (affectionately called ‘Miriam’s House’ after the donor), where they regularly display an attractive advertising board on the street inviting people to come in for FREE COFFEE, cake and a chat! It works!
Living Room Connects with Relational Streams: The core members of this church plant in London suburbia – young professionals, have limited time for program evangelism. However they are focusing upon building closer relationships with those with whom they commute each day, their work associates and colleagues, and neighborhood contacts.
Relational Streams – Home Schooling Networks: In a number of church plants younger mums have found the networks of home-schooling parents provide regular close relationships where faith can be shared.
Community Chaplains are Appreciated: An increasing number of church plants organize teams of Community Chaplains who visit systematically through a neighborhood – offering encouragement, prayer and referral to counseling and support services as needed by those they meet. Very close relationships develop between Chaplains and those they support – with opportunities to introduce the reading of the Gospels.
Creative Church is Fun: Each Saturday in Dunstable (north of London) church starts with a community meal. In the same room/hall other tables have been arranged with a variety of craft and activity options. Following the meal all are invited to sing, prayer is conversational and the theme for the day introduced. On the day I was present – the theme was ‘marriage’! The group of 40-50, including children, explored the theme with crafts (glass painting, paper-craft), cooking, knitting, and in discussion groups. Unchurched families present for the first time obviously felt welcome and included! Church planters Simon and Anita Martin – and their team, are really connecting with their community.
Street Pastors Support Communities: Four of the team at Creative Church (Dunstable) are trained Street Pastors – working the streets late Friday and Saturday evenings caring for party-goers who need help finding taxis, safe transport, or some encouragement. Working closely with other churches, police and local authorities Street Pastors provide an invaluable service in keeping streets and residents safe.
London Live Refocuses: Meeting in the centre of busy Nottinghill (London) – in a welcoming venue opening onto the street, the core team recognize the great opportunities to connect with local residents and tourists. With talented musicians their focus has been a worship/music event on Saturdays at 5.00 pm – attracting people from the streets. They have now concluded that an earlier afternoon time slot will work better – and give more opportunities to build relationships with their artistic/cafe community.
Wimbledon Simple Church – Relating to Specific Needs: The Core 4 first felt God was calling them to work for London’s homeless – meeting those living on the streets and providing warm soup, jackets, gloves, socks and friendship. This is where their ministry started, but after some time they found themselves caring more for the critically ill – spending their weekends visiting intensive care units, supporting families and those dying of terminal diseases. As a team they meet each Saturday for a lunchtime meal and spend time in fellowship, prayer, reflection and Bible discussion. One of their team is on a ‘spiritual journey’ – unsure of belief in God, but participates in all fellowship and spends hours each week serving others! Such a Simple Church may never form a ‘congregation’ but is faithful to God’s kingdom agenda!
The Idea of the Core 4 Simple Church Model: No more than 4 churched people form the team for such a church plant. After following an equipping process, they focus upon building relationships with unchurched people. Their growth is never from church people joining their team. A few church people may be invited to observe and learn – with them taking the idea and using it for another plant. Those committed to this approach to church planting make it clear to ‘church’ visitors that they ‘are not welcome’ for more than a couple of weeks! Many church plants suffer from having too many Christians join – i.e. Christians who just want another comfortable place to attend as spectators, without an active commitment to reaching their friends for Christ.
Simple Church for ‘Slaves’: The horror of people trafficking and slavery (especially of women and girls) has reached epidemic proportions in some European cities. Christian women totally committed understanding the complexity of life for those trapped in these tragic circumstances are prayerfully connecting – seeing that the Simple Church model could provide environments of support. Such a Simple Church would not necessarily aim to form a congregation – but be the presence and healing of Jesus for women in these tragic circumstances.
See www.newchurchlife.com for more stories!
Mission Possible II Resource: For presentation/dialogue sessions by Peter Roennfeldt – equipping Adventist planters from England (in Greece) – link http://vimeo.com/groups/secplanting
Issue Christians: How Ed Stetzer helps ‘issue Christians’ move on – see http://www.edstetzer.com/2011/10/why-i-have-no-difficulty-helpi.html?mid=50
CHURCH PLANTING NEWS