Every existing church was at one time a church plant. I am not sure for how long they can be called a new plant (maybe for 2 to 3 years!) – but what I do know is, every plant institutionalizes and the freshness to reach new people for Jesus diminishes. This is true of all – house churches, simple churches, cafe churches, community churches, etc. From his New Testament letters we get the impression Paul faced this reality. The household (oikos) churches that he cultivated quickly institutionalized and his later letters addressed in-house issues.
What are some indicators of institutionalization? Here are some not usually mentioned –
# We are not reaching our friends as we were in the first year or so.
# We have lost contact with a lot of our friends and neighbors.
# People sometimes ‘come’ but usually only once or twice.
# Our kids and teens have moved on!
# People sometimes come to a one-off event, but don’t usually come back to worship.
# We really enjoy the support and encouragement that we get from each other, and are very comfortable. It is good!
# We are so busy with what we do that we have no time to relax and share with the friends in the community.
Over the last month I have met with some amazing groups and creative churches in Australia and Europe. Some have existed for a year or two – and others for a decade. Some have inspired church planters from all over the world – churches like CafeKirken and FaceOut in Denmark. Others are made up of 4 or 5 families – inviting friends to meet with them to share life and follow Jesus. But a common concern has been: we can quickly lose contact with lost people!
Institutionalized churches try to get people to join them – and seem to want to get bigger. Missional groups go out to share faith in fresh ways in their relational streams – with new faith groups constantly multiplying in their social networks.
Jesus explained and modeled how to do it: go out and eat with people, heal them, and share the news of God’s upside down kingdom. (Luke 10:8, 9) We have learnt that every new church (and existing church, however small) benefits from planting a second within a year – at the most, two years. Multiplication is natural if cultivated as an attitude from the beginning.
Be courageous – and multiply into new relational networks,
CHURCH PLANTING NEWS – 24 May 2012
Stories at www.newchurchlife.com –
HappyHand Opens in Copenhagen: a great missional centre!
Organic Church Conference coming to Victoria, Australia – 27-29 July 2012: catch up with Neil Cole, author of Organic Church.
Ways to Multiply: House groups (churches) in the Bairnsdale area of Victoria are multiplying –
One with 3 families and a single man recognize if they invite more to join them they will institutionalize the idea of ‘come to us’ – so they have identified relationships that they are cultivating where new groups (churches) can be fostered.
Another with 5 to 7 families represented have seen that they are a cluster of potential groups or church plants – that they will meet to encourage each family to sow gospel seed into their relational streams that may multiply new plants.
To Equip & Inspire Church Planters: 18 young church planters from Germany spent a recent weekend visiting and learning from a half dozen church plants in South England, reports planting coordinator Aris Vonzalidis. ‘It widened our horizons and gave new ideas for planting and serving God,’ commented one participant. Great idea! Church planters, take a team of potential planters to visit other creative plants.
Open Church in Town Centre: Cloudy skies with sunny intervals were forecast – and it rained. But that didn’t deter church planters from holding Open Church at Southend town centre on April 7. Funds were raised for charity – and shoppers enjoyed music. Aris Vontzalidis shared the gospel in two short 10 min messages. ‘This was the first time I preached in this way and it was very rewarding,’ Aris says. Shoppers were engaged in conversations, with 27 people (reflecting the majority cultures of the town) giving their contact details for further follow-up – people who said ‘please pray for us’, ‘visit us in our home’, ‘help us understand the Bible better’!
Harlow South Church Plant – Youth Discuss Substance Abuse: The youth of Harlow (Essex) church plant invited their friends to discuss the effects of substance abuse. Discussions set the stage for the personal testimony by Michael Oxley – a young man from Reading who spoke of a life spent battling addictions before he accepted Jesus Christ. This proved a powerful statement of the gospel. In the coming weeks 14 people will be baptized!
Seminary Students Visit Church Planting Projects: Future pastors studying church planting at Newbold College (Binfield, England) with Atte Helminen (a church planter from Finland) participated in field trips to church plants around the Greater London area – including Creative Church at Dunstable.
Dialogue Weekend – a regular gathering of house groups in East Gippsland (Victoria, Australia): Although the term ‘missional’ has become popular – many churches and groups are not inviting people to follow Jesus. This dialogue explored –
How to introduce Jesus to people who don’t know him. People can’t decide to follow him if they don’t know him.
Reading the Gospel of Mark – or watching the Jesus Film (the Gospel of Luke) in segments downloaded free from the internet provides a great introduction to the story and person of Jesus and faith.
The simple way Jesus gave to share faith – prayer, eating, healing, blessing and sharing about Jesus on the path of life. (Luke 10)
Amazing Learning Opportunity: Arriving at the community centre for the Saturday morning Dialogue (above) – to discuss how to introduce people to Jesus, we met Anna (not her real name) and boys. The boys were sitting on the pavement doing homework. We quickly learnt they were traveling ‘around the world’ – and had stopped off for a day or two. We struck up a friendship. Anna indicated she was an atheist. We invited them to join us for morning tea … then lunch … then to sit in on our workshop. They were a great family who have suffered some sad losses. During the afternoon workshop Peter Roennfeldt invited Anna to learn about Jesus. The ‘workshop’ transformed into a real-life experience as 30-35 sat in a wider circle around Peter and Anna as they explored the possibility of Anna finding out who Jesus is. Since then the groups (churches) and Anna have been sharing life – and reading the Gospel of Mark; and all inspired to be more proactive in telling the story of Jesus.
Resources (more resources & stories – www.newchurchlife.com)
Graham Hill’s ‘Salt, Light, and a City: Introducing Missional Ecclesiology (2012): for details on content and where to purchase go to https://www.facebook.com/notes/graham-hill/salt-light-and-a-city-introducing-missional-ecclesiology-wipf-stock-2012/313491492058577 and for an extract go to: https://www.facebook.com/notes/graham-hill/book-extract-from-salt-light-and-a-city/313998228674570 .
Dialogue News – is an informal resource reporting ideas being used by an expanding network of missional groups. To get this inspiring newsletter write to Phil Brown [email protected]
Simple Church – www.simplechurchathome.com
Download Planting Churches that Multiply – Conversation Guide from https://www.newchurchlife.com/index.php/resources/ for equipping teams in postmodern contexts.
CHURCH PLANTING NEWS