One of the challenges of church planting is moving from a pretty slick operation in the city, to a suburban church plant with less people and resources. So sure, we have to be realistic, BUT … one of the great things about church planting is that EVERYTHING is up for grabs.
I have given you two things to think about – BYO Bible and no announcements – but now it is your turn. What would be the one feature you would introduce to Trinity North East?
It is Friday night, and time to stir the pot with two radical thoughts to implement at Trinity North East
1. Bring your own Bible to church. Ok, it is really old school. But just imagine?! So many people are carrying on about biblical illiteracy in our churches or not talking about the sermon once it has finished. If you were reading your own Bible in church, you could get it out again at lunch for a bit of the ol’ Roast Preacher … good tucker! Anyone with me? (Other than Paul D!)
2. Get rid of the announcements/ministry matters! At Trinity City this year we have done a great thing by reducing ‘Ministry matters’ to 3 x 30 second ads and one ‘ministry profile’ that goes for 3 minutes (officially!). It has been great! But I reckon if our leaflet directed people to the website etc, we could even do without some/all of the current ads. Obviously, this time can be helpful to give people a sense of community etc, but surely there are more interesting ways to achieve that goal? What do you think?
In the church planting world, everyone seems to think that leadership is THE critical issue. The great church planting guru, Ed Stetzer says that ‘Nothing can take the place of effective leadership. In the established church, this is important, but in the new church it is basically all that exists’. But as I scratch my head and read my Bible, there does seem to be a problem. Sure, leadership is an important gift (eg 1 Tim 2:1; 3:1; Titus 1:5; Heb 13:7). But there is pretty strong emphasis on teams as well (Paul and his circle of co-workers… all that stuff at the end of the NT letters). But more than that, a good leader is only any good if he points people to Jesus (1 Cor 11:1; 2 Cor 5). A good leader recognises that it is only God who gives the growth (1 Cor 3:7). What’s more, God equips ALL the saints to build the body of Christ (1 Cor 12; Eph 4). Now maybe it is just an acute awareness of my own inadequacies speaking here, but I wonder if all this talking up the leadership stuff misses the boat. Unless the leader we are talking about and pointing people to is… Jesus! He is definitely worth following? Any thoughts?
In a conversation with a pastor last year, I asked him for some free church planting advice. His tip was ‘get the right people on the bus’ and directed me to Jim Collins book, Good to Great. It was very helpful as I was thinking about approaching people to be on the Core Team and people to lead various ministry teams. In retrospect as I think and pray about the core team of 12 who will be responsible for planting the church, I am over-joyed. They are a terrific group of highly gifted and motivated brothers and sisters. They all bring very different skills to the table, and keep pushing me way out of my comfort zone! Unfortunately, I have told them once we are 100 days into the church plant, they are out of a job and I will start a leaner and meaner leadership group. It will be a very sad day.
But it will be an important day if we are to grow as a church. One of the things that really exciting me about starting a new church is that as there won’t be the ‘in crowd’ or the stakeholders who keep reminding everyone that ‘we have always done things this way’.
Andrew’s reflections here are helpful to think through, albeit a little bit scary for a relational guy like me!
As part of my postgraduate studies, I just completed a subject on the New Testament book of Acts. I deliberately chose this subject with church planting in mind. Surely, If ever there was a biblical church planting manual this would be it. I have been greatly encouraged by reading and re-reading the beginnings of the New Testament church. Over the years I have had plenty of people complain to me along the lines of ‘why isn’t our church as good as the church in Acts’… ie no cool Holy Spirit stuff, no mass revival etc etc! However, one helpful reminder has been how often opposition follows the progress of the Word. I have been reading Acts through with the core group as a way of helping us think through different issues as well. If you are thinking of joining us next year, please consider getting into Acts over the next few months. It will put fire in your belly and steel in your spine!
Who is church is for? Is Trinity North East going to be a church for Christians or not-yet-Christians? Let me give you three options?
1. The seeker service model. I remember hearing someone somewhere saying something like, ‘the church is the only organisation that exists for people who aren’t members’. It is an interesting point. In practice, you end up with something like a ‘seeker service’ where everything is directed at the ‘outsider’ and Christians don’t feel like they are being ‘fed’. Here you are very clear that the main game is evangelism, and find times/places outside the Sunday gathering to ‘build’ the body.
2. The ‘seeker-sensitive’ or ‘seeker-comprehensive’ model. Here we try to make church as easy to understand for the new person as possible, without specifically catering entirely for where they are at. One of the (indirect) benefits of this is that it undercuts the dominance of the consumer culture amongst Christians. But the risk of the seeker-comprehensive model, is that it could genuinely get tiresome to hear each aspect of a service over-explained each week.
3. Church is for Christians, but outsiders are always welcomed to watch on. (Psalm 96; 1 Corinthians 14).
The more I think about it, the more I realise that the intended audience of a church service does impact a whole lot of areas of our ministry: how you lead and preach during the service, the style of music, kids ministry, morning tea et.al.
My big concern is that if the Interest meeting is anything to go by, it would be easy for Trinity North East to quickly settle into ‘playing church’ and working out endless programs and events that actually don’t ensure that evangelism is our main game.
Looking forward to your thoughts?
I am really looking forward to our weekend away on October 16-18. It will be a great chance to start building relationships with people from all the different ages and stages of life who will be at church together next year. Please contact me if you have any questions.