Not really. Or at least I’m not sure. Church planting is a hot topic right now in western Christianity, and it needs to be with the spiritual condition of North America and western Europe. And when anything is a hot topic, it creates tension.
Tension can be good.
Out of tension flows a creative discussion and differences of opinion that force us to re-evaluate our viewpoints and emphases to ensure that we’re thinking biblically and effectively.
Right now, the tension in church planting discussion surrounds models. Should we launch large and fast? Should we take our time and build a strong core group? Should we start having church to make disciples? Should we make disciples and allow a church to form out of the discipleship? Should we be attractional? Missional? Uni-laterally bi-directionally intentional? And so we have megachurches, house churches, traditional churches, organic churches, plus a lot of dead and dying churches (unfortunately).
As we plant Grace Hills Church, here are three words that stay at the forefront of my mind, as well as the biblical phrases that these words reflect.
We Need to be Attractional (The “Come and See” of the Gospel)
The attractional approach gets a bad wrap for a couple of reasons. First, some churches know how to attract people to a production, but have no depth past Sunday morning. Second, we sometimes think the sound, the lights, and the technology are the attractive part.
We need to be attractional by living distinctively redeemed lives, keeping our integrity and trust with the surrounding world, leading people in genuine God-directed worship, serving in tangible and visible ways, and teaching a life-changing, absolute truth from the Word that acts like a sword, piercing to the depths of the human heart.
We Need to be Transformational (The “Come and Die” of the Gospel)
Jesus invited four fisherman to follow him one day. By the end of the gospels, they are ready to die for Him. In fact, three of them do indeed become martyrs for the faith and John suffered nearly to the point of death for the gospel. That is transformation. That is life-change. And that needs to be celebrated from the very birth of a new church.
We Need to be Missional (The “Go and Tell” of the Gospel)
God’s intention was never for us to isolate ourselves from the world or to imitate our surrounding culture. Rather He wants us to infiltrate the culture around us and demonstrate His love to the least, the lost, and the last of humanity so that the nations of the world can be brought into the enjoyment of the glory of God.
If attraction is all about gathering a church, then mission is more about scattering the church into the community, and into every possible mission field on the planet.
Perhaps we should stop arguing over models. We have plenty to learn from people who are successfully bringing new people to Jesus through this church planting movement, but ultimately, I think what we see in how Jesus trained the twelve and then how the twelve turned the world upside down one community at a time is probably a great place to start.
Photo by Jason Ewert