A few days ago I tweeted that I don’t believe in church planting. Naturally, a few people wanted me to explain myself, especially those who happen to be involved with contemporary church movements!
For the purposes of this discussion, I use ‘church planting’ to refer to the contemporary movement toward starting new churches, particularly driven by young evangelicals. This movement transcends traditions and denominations, and could be criticised for being white/male dominated.
Several conferences, organisational bodies and leading personalities have emerged over the years including Acts 29, Ecclesia, Exponential, Verge and who knows how many others. Mention the names ‘Alan Hirsch‘ or ‘Mark Driscoll‘ in the right circles and just see the reaction you get.
These movements have grown and done good. Entire generations have heard the Gospel who might never have known anything about Jesus. Or those who had felt marginalised and forgotten by the church had a new opportunity to serve and be served and know community. Shedding the baggage of tradition has allowed expectations to be deconstructed and beautiful expressions of Christ to rise up in our modern culture.
These are good, good things. So much to be thankful for.
Yet still, I am frustrated.
You see, I am a member of a small Baptist church in suburban England. We have a 5-hymn sandwich often led by the organ. Sometimes we sing contemporary songs, but seldom anything newer than 5 years. Half our members are over 50 and wear their Sunday Best to Church. They don’t like the drums and don’t seem to get the point in singing 3 or 4 songs in a row. As for interactive worship? That’s for the children.
I love my little Baptist church. I love drinking slightly disappointing coffee with them after the worship service. I love fighting the minister for the last slice of cake. I love being around these people. These different generations, wealths of experience and depths of spirituality. I love the cheesy songs, I love singing ‘Shine, Jesus Shine’ at the top of my lungs with the organ leading. I love my church.
So, it kind of annoys me to see a generation of young, Biblically passionate, humble and gifted leaders walk away from the historic church.
Well, the inherited church at least.
What if those same talented, passionate and mature leaders invested themselves in their local church?
All the support raising.
All the connecting with non-believers.
All the time and energy.
All the innovative thinking.
The music and art.
The faithful Biblical preaching.
Commitment to sound doctrine.
Steps of faith.
What if all of these things were in our inherited churches?
I have a few ideas why these young leaders tend to power ahead with new expressions of church, but I welcome your feedback before I write on that.
Can you imagine how different your church might be if a team of young, energetic, gifted families would pour themselves into your body?
Or if you are in a church plant, have you thought about what you could do in an established church?
What challenges would you have faced?
Let’s talk about this.