These days it seems every network or denomination is either starting a new church or telling us how to do it. Big launch, organic, house church networks, and cultural niche churches are just a few of the kinds of churches being started all over the world. Blogs, articles, books, training events and videos are touting the benefits of planting with expert advice on how to be successful. Almost always the emphasis is on the institutional elements of the new church – gathering a launch team, finding funding, key characteristics of successful leaders and organizing for maximum effectiveness. Nearly every model has established best practices presented in pleasingly packaged products. It is easy to get the idea that planting a church is just a matter of building it well by getting the right institutional elements in place.
But Jesus never actually told us to focus on building the institution. In fact, he never told us to plant churches. He said he would build the church. He told us to make disciples. We make disciples and he builds his church. Forgetting our primary mandate and trying to build His Church on our own gets real ugly really fast. So, in our efforts to start a new church, how do we stay focused on making disciples and make sure that Jesus is the one building the church?
- Planting a healthy church should begin with the question “How do I make disciples in the community to which I am called?” Start making disciples and the church will begin to emerge.
- In the start-up phase of the church, two thirds of your time should be focused on making disciples and one third should be focused on the institutional elements of the church.
- Being a church is way more than just the weekly meeting at the rented room. Every planter needs to know the answer to the question, “How will the every day lifestyle of the church reflect the mandate to make disciples?” Make sure the weekly church calendar reflects the answer to that question.
Those are some of my thoughts about helping a new church stay on mission. What are your thoughts?