Our world is in need of healthy churches. In the parts of the world where there are numerous churches, there aren’t always numerous healthy churches. While those churches need to be revitalized, we also need new ones to start.
When I started seminary, the options were either be frustrated trying to make an established church grow or be overwhelmed attempting to lead a new church start.
While church planting has rightfully garnered more attention in the last two decades, we must be careful to evaluate the methods we use. We must also be aware of some of the dangerous trends out there.
- Church Splits – Many church starts are church splits disguised as church plants. Leaving a church angry and taking half of the members down the road is not a church plant no matter how you advertise it. Some church should be a part of the planting.
- Discrediting Arrogance – Just because you are a critic of yesterday’s church does not make you an expert on today’s church. Do not build your church on boasting about how you are not like the other weak churches in the area. It’s dishonoring, deceitful, and damaging.
- Affluent Suburbs – Our strategic plants in affluent communities run the risk of neglecting those loved by Jesus but unable to support our salaries. If all of our success stories happen in affluent neighborhoods, who is doing to reach out to the destitute? We must plan for supporting churches long-term that will not be able to support themselves like others in differing contexts.
- Territorial Mindsets – We are unable to promote Jesus’ Kingdom if we remain protective of our own kingdoms. Many churches are inwardly hoping that new churches will fail. Out of jealousy and territoriality, they focus more on their local church than they do His global Church.
- Diminished Opportunities – Our technological strategies imply that only the extremely engaging are worthy of leading our churches. The more that we multiply offerings through simulcast preaching, streaming teaching, recorded kids curriculum, etc., the more we are telling people with teaching gifts there is no place for them. We are also telling people that videos will suffice for their spiritual growth, and they may never come back in person (and that is happening in the midst of COVID if you didn’t notice).
- Misplaced Ministers – Just because leaders don’t fit a certain ministry template doesn’t mean that they need to force church planting. Many young aspiring pastors don’t want to do youth ministry, aren’t equipped for worship ministry, but they don’t have enough experience for a senior pastor role. Just because you can’t find a job does not mean that God called you to plant – it is a unique gifting.
- Misaligned Networks – Many “partnering” networks attempt to do the same things and yet actually unwilling to partner together. Going forward, denominations are going to have to figure out how to create synergy among partnering organizations. If every level of your denomination is doing the same thing in different ways, we are creating competing systems. The need to align for church multiplication must trump our desire to maintain job security. The need is there; can we learn how to get along?
- Undiscipled Leaders – Many passionate young leaders lack an intentional mentor who has discipled them personally. Most church plants will lead out in the desire to make disciples, and many that I talk with say they have never been discipled themselves. If you are 25, I promise you have something to learn from someone who has been in the ministry longer than you have been alive. Whose wisdom are you seeking? Older leaders, who are you seeking to mentor and send out?
Let’s plant new churches, but let’s do it together.