Archive for category Church Planting
*From a recently published article
MainStreet Covenant Church will soon open a new center in the Stonegate Plaza in Mound. Hometown Pastor Jeremy Berg is quick to make clear, “This is not a church building; it’s a community gathering place — a cafe, live music venue, book club hub, public meeting space, after school youth hangout — where we happen to have church on Sundays.” MainStreet, as it’s name implies, is rethinking church for the 21st century and seeking creative and compelling ways to bring the hope and message of Christ beyond the sanctuary walls and onto “Main Street” — or, as the Bible says, “in the marketplace daily with all who happen to be there” (Acts 17:17).
MainStreet’s new place is an example of what author Ray Oldenburg calls a “third place” in his influential book The Great Good Place (1989). According to Oldenburg, one’s “first place” is the home and those that one lives with. The “second place” is the workplace — where people may actually spend most of their time. Third places, then, are “anchors” of community life and facilitate and foster broader, more creative interaction.
All societies already have informal meeting places; what is new in modern times is how intentional people are in seeking them out as vital to current societal needs. “Its time churches pick up on this societal trend,” says Berg. “Why should restaurants and coffeeshops be the only places people go to meet with friends and discuss the latest ideas?”
Oldenburg lists the following hallmarks of a true “third place”:
- Free or inexpensive
- Food and drink, while not essential, are important
- Highly accessible: proximate for many (walking distance)
- Involve regulars — those who habitually congregate there
- Welcoming and comfortable
- Both new friends and old should be found there.
In a day when churches are often seen by the general public as private clubs mainly serving their own members, Pastor Berg likes to quote Bishop William Temple who once said, “The Church is the only society on earth that exists for the benefit of non-members.” MainStreet wants this new community gathering place to say to the broader public: “We’re here to serve the Westonka community, and we hope this new facility will benefit everyone.” Read the rest of this entry »
The article below by Lindy Lowly called The Church’s Sleeping Giant aptly captures the missional philosophy driving the vision and approach of MainStreet. This is why we exist – short and simple. Most church-goers simply don’t understand how our approach is different than the standard “come to us” model of church. I hope this article drives home the absolute necessity for more new churches to shift their models to reach those who will not come to church-as-usual. Or, as we say repeatedly at MainStreet, “In a culture where most will not COME to church, the church needs to GO to them.” Enjoy and share with others! -JB
Across America, growing numbers of national church leaders are starting to voice what they describe as a “holy discontent.” The idea of growing their church larger and larger is no longer appealing, they say, especially as they face the truth that no matter how large their church gets, they’ll still miss an estimated 60 percent of people in the U.S. (187 million) who won’t set foot in a church.
A Missionary Problem
Today’s church has a strategic problem and a missionary problem, say Dave Ferguson and Alan Hirsch, authors of On the Verge: A Journey Into the Future of the Apostolic Church.
“Most churches are built on a model of people coming to our churches and us offering a positive church experience,” Ferguson says. “The good news is that about 40 to 50 percent of the population still wants that. The bad news is that the other 60 percent are not looking for that at all.”
Until recently, the church retained a significant cultural connection with the society around it. Most people were within the cultural orbit of the church and open to being influenced by the ideas that energized the church. Most church leaders know that’s not the case anymore. The prevailing, contemporary church-growth approach will have significant appeal to only about an estimated 40 percent of the American population.
“Because we’ve been stuck in this model for so long, we’ve forgotten that we are meant to be a missionary people, a sending people,” Ferguson says. “We are meant to go outside the walls of the church and be the church. We are designed to go into the world and bring Good News to the 60 percent. Read the rest of this entry »
How many of us really take Jesus’ words seriously? I don’t mean picking and choosing the teachings we can tolerate. I mean ALL of them. Most of my greatest challenges and hardships in life have been the direct result of taking some of Jesus’ more difficult words seriously.
I recently preached a sermon challenging MainStreet to be both a “Safe and Holy Place.” In that context, I was referring to being “safe” from shame, condemnation and the graceless legalism of the Pharisees.
I was in no way speaking of a church that is “safe” in terms of being a risk-free, controlled environment where there are few surprises and we all stay within our own personal comfort zones. The Bible, as I read it, is largely a story of unsuspecting people getting yanked out of their comfort zones and invited into the dangerous and demanding life of “risky obedience”. Safety, risk-management and comfort are precious American values; but they are not biblical values.
The lives of Abraham, Moses, Noah, David, Elijah, Paul, Peter, John and the rest all seem to involve leaving something of value and comfort behind, being led into a time of testing, facing great hardship and sacrifice because of their faithfulness to God, and experiencing God in profound ways because of their faithfulness.
The past couple weeks I have been unable to escape several passages God keeps bringing to my attention. I believe everyone involved with MainStreet needs to wrestle these words, too. Some of the key passages include: Read the rest of this entry »
At first glance, Nehemiah’s rebuilding project of the walls of Jerusalem can seem quite…well…unspiritual. Is it all about brick and mortar? Is the purpose strictly practical and militaristic? Are the walls being rebuilt merely to keep the city safe from enemy attack? I think not.
The clue to the deeper motivation behind Nehemiah’s project, and therefore, wider application to today, is found in Nehemiah’s prayer in 1:8-9: “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying,‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’”
Here we have the primary purpose for the rebuilding of the city’s ruined walls: God has chosen this city to be a dwelling for God’s Name. That is, Jerusalem was supposed to be a place where God’s glory shines forth in a unique way. A place set apart as Holy to the Lord. The broken down walls were not merely a safety issue for the inhabitants; it was an affront to the Holy God who desires to make the city His dwelling place.
How does this relate to us today? Well, God no longer dwells in a temple made by human hands, but has chosen to dwell in human temples — namely, the community of believers called the church. God no longer resides uniquely in a small geographical region in the middle east called Jerusalem; His presence now dwells all across the globe as the church brings the gospel to more and more places.
Yet, just as the Holy City in Nehemiah’s day was in a state of disgrace (2:17), so our churches today can lose our saltiness or hide our light under a bowl (Matt. 5:13-16), forsake our calling to make disciples (Matt. 28), and even have our lamp stand removed (Rev. 2:5). When and where such a tragedy occurs, God will raise up modern day Nehemiah’s to rebuild God’s church, to plant new churches, to revive old churches, to raise up communities where God’s Name can dwell. Read the rest of this entry »
This is good stuff.
<div style=”width:425px” id=”__ss_9805155″> <strong style=”display:block;margin:12px 0 4px”><a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/tallskinnykiwi/resourcing-missional-entrepreneurs” title=”Resourcing Missional Entrepreneurs” target=”_blank”>Resourcing Missional Entrepreneurs</a></strong> <div style=”padding:5px 0 12px”> View more <a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/” target=”_blank”>presentations</a> from <a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/tallskinnykiwi” target=”_blank”>andrew jones</a> </div> </div>
The Enemy did his best to drown me in doubt last week. In that darkness, I received a text message from a friend with a Bible verse with the perfect message at the perfect time: “Let us not grow weary in doing good. For at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we don’t give up and quit” (Gal. 6:9).
I am reminded of a story about Florence Chadwick, the first woman to swim the English Channel. She swam both to and from England. It took a total of 29 hours and 42 minutes between the two trips. With that accomplishment, Chadwick attempted to swim the distance from the California coast to Catalina Island, a distance of around 26 miles. The waters were about 48 degrees and during her swim a thick fog rolled in. A half mile from Catalina Island, she became discouraged and quit. When reporters questioned her the next day, they asked whether it had been the length of the swim or the cold water that had beaten her. She replied that it had been neither, “I was licked by the fog.”
Chadwick explained that when she had been swimming the English Channel, a similar fog has arisen. She had gotten discouraged, and reached for her father, who was in a boat at her side. He stood and pointed in the direction she was swimming. She raised her head above the fog, and saw the shoreline in the distance. With this renewed vision, she was able to finish her swim across the Channel.
God realizes that we need visions, dreams and goals to motivate us to keep going forward, no matter what we face. Without them, we lose heart and die inside…little by little as revealed in Proverbs 29:18. “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
Friends, we’re almost to the shore! Beware of the foggy disillusionment the Enemy wants to bring upon our team. Let’s hold fast to the vision and not give up. We will reap a kingdom harvest at “the proper time” — in God’s perfect time.
This is an idea whose time has come. It is easy, simple, saves money, and I think it seeds the mission of God in N America for generations to come: STOP FUNDING TRADITIONAL CHURCH PLANTS and instead fund missionaries to inhabit contexts all across the new mission fields of N America.
Traditionally denominations have funded church plants. They do this by providing a.) a full time salary plus benefits for three years, and b.) start-up funds for equipment, building rental etc. to a well-assessed church planter (read entrepreneur). The goal is a self-sustaining church in three years paying its own pastor’s salary and assorted sundry costs of running the church’s services. The costs are astounding, perhaps 300-400,000 dollars or more to get a church plant going.
Today, in the changing environments of N American post Christendom, this approach to church planting is insane. For it not only assumes an already Christianized population to draw on , it puts enormous pressure on the church planter to secure already well-heeled Christians as bodies for the seats on Sunday morning. This in itself undercuts the engagement of the hurting, lost peoples God is bringing to Himself in Christ.
Of course this approach worked for years. In the post WW2 period in N America, denominations were either:
a.) feeding off disenchanted protestant mainline Christians/ dormant Roman Catholic Christians seeking a more vibrant faith, or
b.) planting their brand in the ever expanding suburbs where there were no churches yet and thousands of young (mainly white) Christians were moving there looking for a church.
In either case, a young man (it was normally a man) with preaching and organizational skills could get a church rolling in three years.
A second wave of church planting began in the 80’s with the rise of seeker service churches. We’ll call this the “Willow-creek” effect. These new plants focus on “making church relevant” to boomers who had wandered away. Hundreds of mega churches were planted. These churches fed off the boomers who had been brought up in church, knew “The Story,” but had left. There were also a large number of dormant ex-Catholics and Lutherans looking for church American style. Also, surprisingly, these churches also fed off an amazing number of younger Christians who left their staid traditional Bible churches. Three years was doable in this form of church planting as well. It took a pastor however who had unusual entrepreneurial skills and organizational talent.
Times have changed however. The market of these various Christianized (in some way) populations is shrinking and all but saturated in N America. Instead we live in a society that is more and more post Christian, non-Christian, outside the orbit of the regular church. N America has become a mission field of its own.
I contend therefore we should NOT be funding the traditional Christendom based church plants. We should be funding missionaries.
Instead of funding one entrepreneurial pastor, preacher and organizer to go in and organize a center for Christian goods and services, let us fund three or four leader/ or leader couples to go in as a team to an under-churched context (Most often these places are the not rich all white suburbs where evangelicals have done well planting churches). Read the rest of this entry »