How To Start A Congregation?
The vision of multiplying congregations is not a vision just to increase the number of worship events. The goal is to see new communities of disciples growing out of authentic mission. It is true that the process of planting a new congregation is not complete until we have regular (probably weekly) gatherings to worship God together...
...but let's not start with a worship event.
Instead, we would do far better to begin by meeting with a small group to pray, and to explore what God may be calling us to, which will grow out of the mission he has called us to. This is not hard, but neither is it fast. To help us with the process, we might do well to pay attention to the simple steps outlined in this short video:
Mission begins with the confidence that God is already at work, in the world around us, and also in our own hearts. So we should take some time together to dream about what He is doing, and wants to do, and then to ask ourselves some important questions....
Which groups do we already have relationships with? Which groups do we have little or no contact with at all? What are we passionate about? What are we most dissatisfied with? What are we longing for? What do we want to avoid?
Which groups are we most connected to? Which groups are we least connected to? What promptings do we sense in prayer? What are the people around us open to? As a clearer vision emerges from our dreaming and asking, it then becomes time to take a few calculated risks.
Planting a new congregation carries with it the risk of human 'failure'. We have no guarantees that what we do will actually work. We must be willing to have a go, be willing to learn from what happens, and be willing to 'only' please God in the process.
There is also the risk of “success”. We might experience a new depth of community, where outsiders find a place of belonging among us. The experience could spoil us for anything 'normal' ever again!
Of course not all risks are worth taking, and not every good risk should be taken immediately. It’s worth us exploring, in our teams, if this is a risk we believe God is actually asking us to take. The Joshua Centre team would love to join in that conversation.
What is the next step for us? Is it for a new mission activity to begin, or is it for a new step to be taken in taking forward something that is already happening? We do want to do things as well as possible, but we must be overly perfectionistic about it.
The Joshua Centre offers support, training and resources to help new congregations get started on as good a footing as possible, but, as G.K. Chesterton once said: "If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly!”
We just can't wait for everything to be in place and clear before we start. We can't wait to be good at whatever God is calling you to. We learn by doing. We must do it with all your heart and strength even if that is only good enough to do it badly. Engage!