Is church planting really the answer?
I love seeing new churches started, I love church planting, I regularly pray for church plants in our local area and I pray for church planting and leadership training programs that operate on an international level. having said that, i am really concerned about what i am seeing and some of the many trends i am seeing develop around the place.
1) pastors wanting to be the next Mark Driscoll
the more I connect with young pastors (yeah I know I am still generally young, having said that, I have been in Christian minsitry for 10 years, I have been around the block a few times) I am seeing guys who look like Driscoll, speak like Driscoll, act like him, teach like him. I am sorry to tell you, but you are NOT him. you are fearfully and wonderfully made, God has a plan for you, and you alone. I am pretty sure it is not to be like Driscoll but to be the best pastor God has created you to be. Be content with where you are, minister out of your gifts not someone elses.
2) pastors moving into areas where there are already good evangelical ministries and rather than working together targeting the same group
now i understand the arguments that go something like this “there are only 10% Christians, so there are more than enough people to share, get over it”. I get it, I understand it, yet there is another side of the coin that needs to be considered.
- critical mass | why would you have 2 churches within 2km, both struggling to get the critical mass to run ministries. i.e both running youth groups with 10 kids and 3 leaders and both running family services with about 40 people with 12 children. what if rather than starting a new church, healthy churches were injected into with people and staff?
- financial investment | it takes a lot to keep a church running, it takes even more financial investment to plant one in the crrent model being used in Australia. Think about the double-up in spending, insurance, rent, photocopies, computers, printing, internet, telephones. this isn’t even taking into account the personal cost on pastors and lay volunteers.
3) often whilst on the surface evangelism is said to be at the core, rather what I have found is that being cool and hipster is more important.
this is a judgement call, sorry. but i am sick of church plants claiming to be culturally relevant where as the denomination churches aren’t. Really?? I see denominational churches strip their services back all the time so as to present people with the cross of Christ, church plants aren’t special in their cultural relevance, dare i say a denominational church done well has potential to cater for more people than church plants, so please don’t carry on like you are more culturally relevant than denominational churches. You’re not.
4) i am really concerned about the shuffeling the deck and really not reaching new people and burning people out
3 church plants in our area have dried up many of the denominational churches in the past 5 years either personally inviting and setting the vision for the next exciting thing or just the pull of gathering with 60 other young adults. Many churches have been dried up of their 20 and 30 something year old, all three church plants have failed in the past 24months and left most of these people burnt-out and disillusioned, many haven’t reconnected to a church.
5) many leaders seem to be developing a level of arrogance and snobbery towards those who work within denominations.
i personally am sick of church planters or church plat organisations telling me that I and other young denominational guys should leave denominational churches and plant something. Why? God is doing some great things in some denominational churches, i and others are being obedient and God is using us where we are. why would we chase after something different? I concede there are a lot of things that might be easier within a church plant than within a denomination, but this is not to say that God has finished with denominations and that there aren’t a whole heap of advantages to denominational churches.
all in all, we need both, and in the end independent church plants tend to become denominations in the long run anyway