Watch this short video (length 4:55) before reading my thoughts below.
There are particular buzz words within the church today. Some of them include such words as missional, community, discipleship, relevant, authentic, and, of course, church planting (well, that’s two words).
None of those words mentioned above are bad words, by any means. They are actually quite important words. But when words, and their concepts, become fashionable and hip, that is when they could become problematic.
That is what I believe has happened with church planting, at least within some circles. Like church growth in the 90’s, church planting has become the hip phraseology of the past decade, and now into the teen’s (2010’s).
But what really strikes me is that church planting seems to have become a fad amongst a particular group.
Did you notice anything about those speaking in this video?
All but one were white, evangelical, middle-to-upper-middle-class white males.
Being one who falls into that group myself, I am very aware that we can come up with fads left and right.
Remember, by no means is church planting a bad thing. I believe it to be a good thing (well, within a certain confines). But when our great goal becomes church planting, or anything else outside of following Jesus, then we will tend to get off track. When we become obsessed with growing our churches or being relevant or having a small group of young men meeting in a coffee shop and slapping on the label discipleship, then we miss the ultimate point.
And this is also true when it comes to church planting.
Listen, I cannot reiterate enough that I do believe that expanding outwards is the goal of God in mission, rather than building upwards. I have shared on this subject before. Whereas we can lose focus when we obsess over moving towards a particular number in our local churches – 100, then 200, then 350, then 500, then 800, then 1000, etc – I would rather see multiplying congregations gathering together across an area, a city, a state, a province, a nation, as I believe we will be more effective in fulfilling the call to be salt and light in our world.
Though I am not sure if I will ever be involved with such, I would love to see such happen in the Brussels area, and even across Belgium and Europe.
But I am also not up for church planting simply because it is a fad of today, a movement in which everyone is caught up in. I am more interested in doing what the Father is doing, hearing what the Father is saying (kind of like that guy Jesus, see John 5:19). Being sent out without the voice of God, planting out without the sending of the Spirit (i.e. Acts 13:1-4) will probably not accomplish much. Maybe we can market it enough to make it happen. But we will be tired, we will be frustrated and we will not ultimately see the hand of God at work.
So within this video, I simply had a flag raise as I considered why such a church planting network has formed. It seems a good idea, and really it is not bad. But it’s only good if God is initiating such. I cannot judge whether these people have heard God. I suppose they would testify they have, and to that I would say I am truly excited to know.
But I am desirous to guard against the need of marketing such – Hey, if you want to plant a church, we want to help. Come join our group.
It seems a little unauthentic. And remember, authentic is an important word today.
Listen, I am sure the NorCal Network is seeking God, pursuing God, and only wanting to do what God desires. But I simply wanted to raise a little guard that we not rush into such for the sake of doing what is popular. Everyone’s doing it – from NorCal, to Acts29, to the emerging church, to C3 Church Global, to Hillsongs, and I suppose even within more traditional branches of the church, not to mention a host of other networks and groups that highlight they are church planters.
But let’s not do something to be part of the trend. Let’s be ok with putting our hands to the faithfulness of building up the local body God has entrusted to us. If God’s Spirit speaks (again, like in Acts 13:1-4), let’s move into prayer of how we can move out, maintaining the relational manner which God has called us to (please, no lone rangers). But let’s not get caught up in a movement or a fad because this is what is in. Let’s get caught up in hearing the voice of the Father and responding as He leads. We shall see much more fruit – in our own lives and in the lives of others.