What can of things can the Leadership Development/ Church Health guy write about church planting? I guess it could be some of the same old stuff:
- We need church plants to replace churches that close, so pray for plants and planters.
- Healthy church plants need healthy established churches to help them – whether it be through modeling or support like book keeping or sharing resources. So established churches – get healthy and help out.
- Church planting takes money so established churches need to prayerfully consider giving to the church planting giving stream.
- Finally, the next church planter our movement needs could be sitting in your church this Sunday. Leaders in established churches need to be prayerful, discerning and patient as they identify and work with these very important leaders.
Those are all good things and I believe in all of them. Established church boards, pastors and leaders would do well to consider a response to all 4. But that’s not what I want to write about today. Instead as we consider church planting and the relationship they have with established churches in the movement I would like boards, pastors and leaders to consider doing something that might seem counter-intuitive at first.
Normally when the established church considers interaction with the church plant, it is from a posture of teaching or helping. And that’s not bad. Healthy established churches and Godly, competent, healthy leaders would have a lot to offer a new church and new leaders.
But consider this. Instead of going to a church plant to “teach”, what if we went to learn and listen? What if we listened to what they had to say about Kingdom work here and now? My guess is that we would learn something.
Like what? Glad you asked. For starters I think church plants have a lot to teach the established church about creativity, new ways of looking at things and moving beyond the same old same old. Jump starting that kind of thinking could do wonders for even the healthiest of established churches. You may not do what the church plant is doing, but their thinking will help stimulate your thinking and that can only help you be more effective.
Church plants also tend to do a better job of reaching folks who have never been to church or who have wandered away from church. They have a lot to teach the established church about how to reach folks the church is not currently reaching. We need to listen to them.
Church plants often have a better sense of neighborhood and meeting needs and those sorts of things. Things the established church can struggle with, even with the best of intentions. What if we listened not only to what they did, but to how and why they did it as well? And then we used similar approaches to our community.
Church plants have a lot to teach the established church about Kingdom work in our day. Let me encourage you to listen.
Director of Leadership Development and Church Health, the Free Methodist Church in Canada