Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Church Planting

I am writing an essay that is considering issues around church planting in the Sydney Diocese. Initially I am looking at the broader literature and have noticed that most advocates of church planting examine either all or some of the following five areas to support and articulate the cause (many overlapping):




Biblical

For example Keller in the Redeemer Church Planting Manual argues:

“Virtually all the great evangelistic challenges of the New Testament are basically calls to plant churches, not simply to share faith. The Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20) is not just a call to make disciples but to baptize. In Acts and elsewhere, it is clear that baptism means incorporation into a worshiping community with accountability and boundaries.”

Theological

This usually involves discussions around ecclesiology and missiology. Murray Stuart’s Church Planting: Laying foundations is a good example

Historical

This often includes an overview of the Pauline programme of church planting, references to the Celtic Missionaries, Reformers, 18th and 19th century protestant heroes and more recently C. Donald McGavran's work.

Contextual

This often includes:

  • Observations about the stultification of the current churches and leadership, for example Al Stewart's ACL address or the Trellis and the Vine.
  • Observations that variously describe the gap between church members and their local communities. These observations are made using the frameworks of philosophical enquiry and or social and behavioural sciences. This includes world views, gender, ethnicity, generation gaps…
  • Observations about the lack of church growth for example in Australia:

o Between 1991-2001 (even with the growth in the AOG churches) Protestant churches in Australia declined by 6% and Australian church attendance declined, by 3%

o In 1991 - one church for every 1561 people in Australia

o In 2006 (estimated) – one church for ever 2054 people,

I have noticed that much of the emergent church material is driven by these observations.

Pragmatic

The oft quoted pragmatist Wagner is a good example:

The single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven is planting new churches. (Wagner, “Church Planting For a Greater Harvest,” Page 7.)

In addition to this there is lots of how to material.

Just wondering if I have missed anything? Comments?

2 comments:

gbroughto said...

Vocational

this probably sits somewhere between theological and pragmatic (is "practical" less pejorative?)

I see 2 aspects at work here:

1. some people God has wired up to not just evangelise but plant churches...

2. this is partly contextual - ie the generation doing personal evangelism and/or youth work 25 years ago have been replaced by a generation of church planters. Most of the inspiring models for the under 35's are church planters as seen through TGC network, whereas the inspiring youth workers / evangelists have taken a back seat

Roger said...

Geoff,

Thanks! Vocational is helpful and yes practical is less pejorative.

Do you think it be stretching it too far to suggest that frustrated youth ministers/ministry may have paved the way for the new church planters? I know many youth ministers in the70’s, 80’s and 90’s were very frustrated with the kinds of churches and hierarchy they were working with. The lack of flexibility in particular meant that the youth they had reached did not integrate well into existing church life and that some youth ministers did not last long. Just a thought :)