I am currently undergoing a ministry apprenticeship. In a nutshell, the idea is I follow around after someone in full-time ministry and get given some responsibilities and learn how to be a godly servant. However as I heard from the wise old head of MTS, Col Marshall, the great strength of MTS is also it's weakness – we reproduce ourselves. So our strengths become the strengths of those we train and our weaknesses we also pass on. Today I promised to post on new wave church-planting, so you may well be asking “what does this have to do with church planting?”
While church-planting has been going on since just after Jesus ascension, the new face of church-planting worldwide is a beloved brother, Mark Driscoll. Driscoll planted his church in Seattle by knocking on doors and walking up to people till he converted enough to start a regular gathering. He is an entrepreneur. From what I can gather an entrepreneur is someone like MacGyver who armed with nothing but a toilet roll, a traffic cone and a match, could break out of a windowless prison cell. They're resourceful, is all. They're problem-solver's. They have a “can do” attitude. And apparently, if you're not, you can't plant a church. [Consequently, they do screening tests on people looking to church-plant to see if they have the right skill-set. I reckon they should just lock potential candidates in a prison cell with a toilet roll, traffic cone and a match and see what they do.] Mark Driscoll is an entrepreneur. And therefore in replicating himself he produces more entrepreneurs. But I say you don't need to be an entrepreneur to plant a church.
The new wave entrepreneurial church-planting strategy is a good one. We do need people to pioneer new ministries. Our churches would be much more effective at reaching people if all Christian's went knocking on doors and meeting people in the streets. We need entrepreneurs. But there is still hope for those who remain in the windowless cell, having snapped the match, flushed the toilet roll in frustration and sitting forlornly wearing the traffic cone on your head. You are not without hope. I will show you a still more excellent way.
Teams. That's all, church-planting teams. I want us to be more Presbyterian in our church-planting strategy. Take the focus away from the individual and onto team-planting. That is, gathering a small group from an existing gathering of Christian's, moving into a new people group or area and planting a church. The burn-out rate will be less as the workload is shared. The effectiveness should increase as there are more hands on deck. The evangelistic effort will be across a wider cross-section of the community. Best of all, the ministry will be moved away from the personality and onto the church.
Now please don't hear me bagging out on entrepreneur's going out on their own. We need them too. But I'm sick of hearing people who aren't entrepreneurial and already in their 30's say they're past it in terms of being able to plant a church. You're not.
Ideally, both methods of church-planting end up in the same place. With a committed core group of elders in conjunction with their pastors taking responsibility for oversight of the body and direction for the church, with all members proclaiming the gospel of Jesus as Lord.
In terms of church-planting, there's more than one way to skin a cat.