This is part two of the article published in the previous post.
Do our actions match our words?
We say we want to see churches planted from out of the harvest, but our actions and our leadership practices do not often match our words. And the sad thing is that even when faced with such inconsistencies, we are likely to continue repeating our past behaviors–expecting different future results (Maybe the Ridley Assessment has something to say to those of us who oversee church planters?).
Whenever a biblical model for church planting is viewed as unusual, the path to change will come with pain.
In order for healthy change to occur, we have to change our ecclesiologies, missiologies, and what we celebrate, reward, and expect.
Poor definitions = poor practices
We have a poor understanding of our Commission. We act as if Jesus has commanded us to plant churches. We are commanded to make disciples. It is out of disciple making that churches are to be birthed. The weight of the biblical model rests here. Not transfer growth. Not acrimonious splits. It is evangelism that results in disciples, who covenant together to be and function as the local expression of the Body of Christ.
We have a poor understanding of the local church. If our definition is poor, then everything we say and do related to church planting will be poor. We often expect newly planted churches to manifest structures and organizations like what is observed in churches of 20, 40, 50 years of age. Our definition of a local church is oftentimes so encased with our cultural desires that we do not know the difference between biblical prescriptions and American preferences.
We operate from a poor definition of church planter. If we do not recognize the missionary nature (and thus apostolic functions) of church planters, then we end up equating them with pastors. And take it from a pastor who has been involved in church-planting: missionaries and pastors have different callings, gift-mixes, passions, and functions to play in the Kingdom. We end up sending pastors to do apostolic-type work, or sending missionaries and expect them to be pastors. Such is a perfect storm for problems, frustrations, burn-out, and disasters.
Are there other ways to plant churches than what we read about in the ministry of Paul?
The problems with our current models
Yes, and I am in favor of some of those models. Are there times when a church should hive-off members to begin work in another area? Yes. Is it okay for a congregation to send out a pastor with several church members to plant an “instant” church in a community? Yes, under certain circumstances.
However, such models tend to be difficult to reproduce (in view of four billion unbelievers), pose contextualization challenges, are costly, and often do not result in a great amount of disciples made. The weight of the biblical definition for church planting is not found here. Such models should be the exception when it comes to church planting. Today, they are often the expectation.
I expect my “surprising” conversations will continue in the future. Such is necessary as we move in a direction where a biblical model is not looked upon as the exception. But until our church planting expectations change, we must ask ourselves a question and recognize the troubling answer:
What do we have whenever a biblical model is viewed as unusual?
We have a major problem.
This article was originally posted at: http://www.vergenetwork.org/2013/09/09/why-jesus-never-commanded-us-to-plant-churches/3/