How to Start a Church Planting Movement – Creating Our Own Paths through Culture
Allan Hirsch says that secular people have a positive view of Jesus but a very negative view of the church. These negative views of the church are part of the reason why efforts to create a church planting movement in the United States have been so difficult and largely unsuccessful.
To create a church planting movement we will have to create new paths through secular culture that differentiate our work from the traditional views of “church” that culture entertains.
For starters we will have to accept that secular culture owes us nothing. Even though I have been frustrated the last few weeks that it is almost impossible to find Christian Christmas music on the radio, to create a movement we have to accept the fact that culture owes us nothing, not even our preferred Sunday morning time slot in people’s schedules.
It is up to us to create new paths through secular culture for the Gospel and Gospel values. We have to create paths which secular culture will respond to in positive ways. We have to earn our right to be heard and earn our right to have a significant place in culture. The day is past when we can say, “We are right therefore you should pay attention to us.”
A church planting movement has great potential to create new paths through culture and regain credibility for Christian Truth in secular culture. If we would just live out church planting movement values and learn how to make persuasive arguments for these values, we can create new paths through secular culture.
The values of a Church Planting movement include such things as hospitality, encouragement, faith, faithfulness, generosity, living with a sense of call and offering care to needy people we do not know. These values compose a different view of believers and “church” than the one currently held by many secular people today.
Part of our challenge is to create these new paths through our culture and to distance ourselves from the negative views of the church and Christians that many secular people rightly or wrongly hold. Living out our values is the way we create these new paths.
Report on the “Share Your Story” meeting in Waverly, PA
Fifteen people gathered in Waverly, PA to share their stories about trying to begin a church multiplication movement. We heard many stories of praying over a map, going into a new town, talking to people not previously known, and looking for a person of peace.
While not all the people who are working in the Mt. Bethel Project attended this meeting, the fifteen people who were at the meeting have visited at least six new towns in the past several weeks. There have been several people identified who might be persons of peace and who are being followed up on. A new group has already been established in one of these communities that we are praying will become a new church.
One of the purposes of the meeting was to learn what the questions are that we still need to answer to create a church multiplication movement. Here is a summary of some of the issues that were discussed.
1. It is important to go into a new town two by two, as Jesus sent the disciples in Luke 10. We need others for courage to do what God has called us to do and to keep the commitment we made to go into new towns to look for a person of peace who can help us start a new group in that town.
2. We need better skills in knowing how to start a conversation with someone we don’t know. Perhaps we can develop a repertoire of ways of talking with new people. We discussed several “door opening questions” to begin spiritual conversations with people. We also talked about whether or not we should introduce the fact that we are looking to start a new church early in the conversation, or whether we should use an alternate term for church.
3. Several people spoke of the next towns or regions that they felt God was telling them to visit.
4. We have possibilities for starting new groups in several of the new towns people have visited. At least one of these towns has a new group that has been started, and several other towns will have new groups beginning in the next several weeks.
Mt. Bethel Project Introductory Training Available
On Saturday, January 12, 2013, there will be an all day training event held at Pottsville, Pennsylvania. David Harvey will be teaching on the Person of Peace concept and on the seven values of a church planting movement. Anyone is invited to attend, but you must let Pastor Storm Hutchison know in advance so that he will know what size of room to secure. This class will be part of the curriculum of the Pottsville church planting class that Storm leads, but he has graciously opened the training to anyone who would like to attend. If you want to attend please contact Pastor Storm at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Moving from ideas to action – The “To Do” List
One of the key tools for starting a church multiplication movement is the “To Do” list. As you may recall this is an essential component of Bruce Bennett’s system. A “To Do” list is what turns an idea into an action. Many of us have good intentions about what we want to do; a map that we want to pray over, new communities we want to go into, or a training class that we want to gather and start. But these intentions will become just a thought we can ignore in a matter of three or four weeks if we don’t put them on our “To Do” list. If God has spoken to you about getting started in church multiplication and you have not done it then it is time to put some specific action on your “To Do” list and then put that task in your calendar to be done on a specific date. I am certain that there are people who God has spoken to about being involved in this work who have just not yet gotten started. Let me know if you would like assistance in getting started.
Be With Him…
Thomas Kelly on living out Christian values in the midst of secular culture:
“No average goodness will do, no measuring of our lives by our fellows, but only a relentless, inexorable divine standard. No relatives suffice; only absolutes satisfy the soul committed to holy obedience. Absolute honesty, absolute gentleness, absolute self-control, unwearied patience and thoughtfulness in the midst of raveling friction of home and office and school and shop. (p. 66)