Tim Chester wrote a post called Planting Biblically-Rooted Churches. I recommend the whole post but I found his description of the dangers of church planting very helpful
Here are some dangers when planting a church:
- to replicate your sending church or your past experience of church (a replica church)
- to plant a church defined by what it is not (a reactionary church)
- to plant the church you and friends always wanted to be part of (ideally suited to Christians, but not missional)
- to attempt to reproduce exactly what went on in the first century apostolic churches (restorationist church which tend to be inward-looking)
- to plant a church which is so ‘incarnational’ or ‘missional’ or ‘contextualized’ that it assimilates to the wider culture (and so in the end has nothing to offer)
Tim Chester has a really good post here. That gives a helpful and really easy introduction to the practice of contextualization and its limitations.
This is my second trip to visit The Crowded House in Sheffield, this time Jo and the boys are with me. We have paid hardly anything for this trip, we are really excited and more than a little bit nervous about three and a half weeks in a foreign country (make that another continent!) with two very busy under fives.
Two planes, two trains, a taxi, a whole lot of waiting, being caught in rush-hour at King’s Cross Station and very little sleep we arrived in Sheffield Tuesday afternoon.
A much needed shower, pizza for supper and a very early night followed! Discovered though that our hosts only drink decaffinated coffee… going to be a rough morning!
Went for a walk in the Sheffield Botanical Gardens Wednesday morning, it was really beautiful and the boys got to run, shout, chase each other and pretend to be bears. This northern industrial city surprises me more every day I spend here.
Wednesday evening the mini-conference that Jo will be mainly attending while I look after the kids began. They call it a house party, but that just conjures up, for me, images of Tim Chester dropping some rhymes while everyone chants “throw your hands up!” Apparently it is acceptably understood by British Christians though….
And our hosts bought us some real coffee… true gospel hospitality
Wednesday evening I did, however, get the opportunity to go to a men’s event with Gavin Peacock (former QPR, Newcastle and Chelsea footballer and TV football pundit), who spoke on Biblical Manhood. Although as you can see from the picture below he was fascinated by my explanation of the 4-3-3 system in the modern game.
“God asked Adam, ‘Where are you?’, the Second Adam stepped up to answer and take responsibility.”
“A man can cry & be afraid but a man cannot whine, complain & blame”
“The call to manhood is not a call to be macho but a call to be mature”
“What is it to be a man and not a woman? A defining question of our culture”
“We’re called to be leaders by virtue of the fact that we’re male. It isn’t a competency issue; it’s a design issue”
“Be watchful, stand firm, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love”. (1 Cor 16:13,14). God’s Word to men”
“Overcoming sin in your life isn’t an effort thing so much has a faith thing.”
We are hoping to be a part of this conference when we go over to Sheffield in June for a time of refreshing, relationship-building and talking about church-planting.
That is if our struggles with the Department of Home Affairs can be resolved in time… We would value your prayers if you could pray with us for this. Basically we need his amended birth certificate to be completed before we can get his passport before we can buy tickets before we can get visa… and we only have a month and a half left…
Having said that if you are able to get to Sheffield UK over this time this conference will be well worth it. Here is a bit of a blurb from Tim Chester’s blog
Discipleship can easily be forgotten when churches focus on mission. Or it can be reduced to a series of courses and programmes that fail to engage with every day life. The Trinitarian Life: Church and Mission in the Light of the Doctrine of God is a chance to explore the theology and practice of missional church. Together we will explore how we can root discipleship in the life of the Trinity.
How can we encourage one another to know God?
How can we make disciples who make disciples?
How can we shape church life for mission?
Whether you are a church member or in church leadership, this conference will equip you to think though discipleship in light of who God is, enabling our practice to be shaped by our theology.
Speakers: Steve Timmis and Tim Chester
Plus break out sessions lead by church planters within The Crowded House will provide opportunity to interact and discuss issues relevant to your church.
You can find more information here.
This series of posts is a reflection on a lack of innovation in the evangelical church. A reflection which has led me to the uncomfortable thought that we lack innovation not because it is not needed but because we fear it! The presence of fear, in this context, reveals the absence of faith. Not the type of faith which means you know the right answers but the type of faith that means you shape your life, desires and ambitions around the right answers. It is a faith that informs the head, warms the heart and moves the feet.
In the last post I suggested we needed to recover our faith in the sovereignty of God. In this post I want to suggest that a recovery of our faith in justification by faith will lead to more risk-taking and greater innovation for the church.
Many of us shy away from risk or innovation because we are averse to the consequences. If we fail – are we a failure? If we succeed are we a heretic? If we try something new are we a trouble-maker? If we don’t follow the same path as everyone else are we arrogant?
For many of us we doggedly hold to the doctrine of justification by faith as that which will save us on the last day but we do not apply this great truth to today (Tim Chester). Instead we desperately look to our ministry effectiveness, church size, busyness of ministry, recognition by our peers, methodological orthodoxy or church attendance to make us feel significant, important or justified to others or most often to ourselves.
We need to hear Jesus say “It is finished!” BEFORE we begin our work, our ministry or get up in the morning. There is no longer any need to prove yourself, outperform anyone else or justify ourself. You are a beloved child of the Most High God- and nothing can change that. Even if it were possible for you to mess it all up and fail every time – “It is finished!” you cannot change your status before God, cannot un-justify yourself, cannot make God love you more or less through your achievements or lack thereof. This is, in part, what it means to live as one whose heart is captured by justification by faith and the cross of Christ.
If my reputation is secure…
- Perhaps it is not necessary to have a thriving youth ministry to be a successful church.
- Perhaps the mark of a growing church is not adding a 2nd or 3rd service.
- Perhaps you don’t need that university recognised theological degree to be legit.
- Perhaps it is not the books you read or the committees you sit on or your seating capacity of your church.
- Perhaps it is not even necessary to be a self-sustaining church?
If it is the gospel that has captured our hearts rather than the “worship of the bitch-goddess success” (William James- love that turn of phrase) then might we see more Homeless Pastors (as in pastors to the homeless not domicile-ly challenged pastors). Or what about releasing some of your key people to go and live among the “night people” of our city (i.e. probably not going to make Sunday morning)- chefs, waiters, street vendors and pimps. Walk the streets, meet them for a drink when they get off shift at 2pm, find ways to bless the homeless sleeping rough, attend late night gigs, befriend car guards, bouncers and taxi drivers. This probably won’t grow your church, nor will you be recognised or even liked honoured for releasing people to do this.
Reaching out to those who are far from the church – the broken, messed-up, sinful, angry and disinterested will get messy. You will lose control, credibility, comfort and conformity. It will not be a job that can be quantified in office hours, job descriptions or five-year plans. It will be confusing, full of dead ends and about turns. It will test your wisdom, your creativity and your credibility. It will not be pretty, nor glamorous and probably not anything that could look legit or successful. This will break your idealism and your heart, drive you to cynicism, alcohol or prayer.
Only one who daily rests in Christ’s finished work on their behalf will be able to stay the course in this vocation.
Here is how he describes it: “Starting on Jan 1st 2012 I’m going to start reading the Bible and hopefully finish the whole thing by Dec 31st 2012. Each day I’ll reflect on what I’ve read. The reflections will be honest, raw and unscripted – this is not a devotional, it’s a struggle. Maybe my struggle might resonate with you and your own struggles with daily Bible reading, well then read with me and struggle along. I speak to enough people day-to-day to know that so many Christians struggle with this – let’s not struggle alone.”
I will definitely be keeping an eye on the blog. Not sure if I will do follow the reading plan though. Although I like the idea of reading along with a bunch of others.
I have used this reading plan from Tim Chester for the last two years and it has worked pretty well for me. So might just continue in the same vein this year.
Of course there is also the much more ambitious 3650 Challenge that Tim Challies is signing people up for. Looks really good…
I still a few days to make a decision…
Tim Chester has posted the final extract from his new book “A Meal with Jesus”.
I particularly liked this quote:
“The future of Christianity lies not in a return to the dominance of Christendom, but small, intimate communities of light. Often they’re unseen by history. But like yeast they’re what transforms neighbourhoods and cities.”