This article follows on from a recently published post on this Blog, called ‘What Happens Next?‘. It summarises the content of a recent seminar given by Bishop Ric Thorpe, who heads up the Centre for Church Planting And Growth in the Diocese of London.
Many people nowadays are convinced about the benefits of Church-Planting. They are keen for their Congregations to start planting new Congregations, who will plant more new Congregations, and so on and so on. They are inspired by the exponential opportunities for growth.
However, not everyone responds to such ‘new’ ideas (though actually they are not new at all) with the same levels of enthusiasm, and even those who were enthusiastic at first can become weary at the thought of doing it over and over again…
Church-Planting does need to be an ongoing enterprise more than a one-off initiative, and the inevitable resistance to such a sustained course of action can make it feel a little intimidating. Wouldn’t it be easier to settle for ‘business (i.e. church) as usual’?
It might be.
However, we can help people come to terms with the ‘new normal’. We can avoid becoming frustrated by how long it takes them to embrace these new ideas. We can even help them to discover what their best contributions might be, within this new entrepreneurial landscape.
The first thing to do is to implement a step-by-step, repeatable approach to Church-Planting, which everyone can engage with as much as they wish, which they will become more comfortable with the more they see it work, and the more they experience its benefits.
Here are Bishop Ric Thorpe’s top tips for getting Church-Planting into your Congregation’s DNA’:
Pray. Try prayer-walking around your area. Be consistent in doing this.
Preach… about Church-Planting, and allow God to speak to people through the Bible.
Plot. Identify others who are interested in Church-Planting, and spend time with them.
Plan… your Church-Planting goals, with other leaders. Include it in your budget.
Produce… a framework for developing new leaders, from ‘rookie’ to ‘ready’.
Prepare. Ask the question ‘what still needs to happen, and how?’ to lots of different people.
Propel. Launch your new Congregation – either organically, or at an opening event.
Propagate. Multiply all your new Congregations, by asking them to follow this process, too!
Of course, some may complain that this list contains too many imperatives beginning with the letter ‘P’ (and maybe it does). Others may tire of the way that the phrase ‘Church-Planting’ is so unimaginatively over-used (and maybe it is). Others still may just need a bit more time to feel OK about it all…
However, once people start to see the fruit of your Church-Planting endeavours in the lives of your ‘early adopters’, and once they hear the stories of those whose lives have been touched by it, they are much more likely to come around to the idea. They may even end up liking it.
The truth is, we only get one shot at serving Jesus, in this Age, and most of us may feel like we are only just getting started when our time is up. So let’s just get on with the mission of Jesus, while we still can. Let’s do it quickly, but patiently; joyfully, yet humbly; fervently, and graciously.
By Dan Rogers