December 7, 2006

Conversations with a Future Church Planter pt. 9

Here is the next in our series: Conversations with a Future Church Planter. To read the rest of the series go here.

Here is my response:

I must say that you have reached a point that took me a few years of pastoral ministry to reach. I did have seminarrogance! It took awhile, but I became overwhelmed with all the "options" available. There are so many different ways to "do" church it can be overwhelming. I discovered that for me I had to do church in a way that allowed me to look at myself in the mirror every morning. Probably the best piece of advice I ever received, though I didn't know it at the time, was, "Plant the church that you would like to attend." While I failed at doing that in my first church plant, I did discover aspects of that dream-coffee, contemporary music, an outward focused church, casual, etc.

While I am not a big fan of homogeneous group development, I do believe that if a planter or pastor tries to import a style that is not them they actually do a disservice to themselves and their church. You have to do what you believe in. And, you seem to be on the right track...you have narrowed down a number of things that you ARE NOT. Now you need to spend some time figuring out what you ARE.

Every job I have ever taken I have felt over my head until I get there. Then I realize there is a learning curve, things don't move as fast as I thought, and, while I may be stretched, I do grow into the position.

I understand the fear of failure in a church plant...I have been there. But even failure is not final unless you let it be. You ought to look up the defeats and failures of some of the great men in history. They often failed more than they succeeded.

If you remove the mega-multi-church and the edgy-beer-drinking-house-church, the modern-trend consumed-liturgical-1950's church is not all that is left. I would suggest you take a notebook and brainstorm a list of things that you feel identify or characterize the "perfect" church in your mind. Describe what is seen, heard, how they heard about the church, what the church is doing in the community, etc. Dream big, and describe for yourself the "perfect" church. Is there a perfect church? No, but you can be a "Pretty Good" Church. You have a lot of concepts floating around your mind, but I am sure you have some concept of those things that are right for you. Take those and begin to list them. Divide them under headings if it helps: Worship, Discipleship, Service and Outreach, Small Groups, etc. What atmosphere/church culture do you want? (You obviously know that coffee in the sanctuary is okay!)

After several years of ministry, I began to boil it down. I wanted something simple. I wanted something that appealed to the unchurched but didn't compromise the message. I wanted to be part of a church that served the poor and hurting and reached out in practical ways. I wanted good coffee, a relaxed atmosphere, and contemporary music (people often noticed that even the contemporary music at our church had a particular edge and style to it that wasn't found in other contemporary services). I wanted a place that took into account the supernatural, but didn't go all Benny Hinn and stuff.

Maybe a starting point for you is to think about what kind of music you most like and what kind of place you feel most relaxed and comfortable. Then model the atmosphere of your church after these. I think this is the beginning of authentic ministry...not homogeneous groups, but being true to yourself.

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