Hitting the Church Planting Sweet Spot

Posted on August 27, 2008
Filed Under General |

Photo by Leo Reynolds

People want to make church planting too simple or too complex.  We train church planters too little, or we train them too much.  We don’t give enough knowledge to obey, or we give so much knowledge that it strangles obedience.  There is a sweet spot, though, a green zone of multiplication.  A balance that is critical for reproducing disciples and planting churches that multiply.

Our team saw this as we developed curriculum for church planters.  If we didn’t have enough Scripture (length of passage), then we couldn’t get enough of the context to understand how we needed to obey God’s Word.  If we added too much Scripture (length and multiple passages), then we made the lesson difficult to reproduce in an oral culture.  There was a sweet spot, a place of balance, though.  When we hit it, things took off like crazy.  Like the gauge above, we have to stay in the green zone for optimum performance.

This applies to a lot of things.  As you know, I spent the weekend touring Second Life.  I have a hypothesis about Second Life and starting spiritual communities:  The more a community mimics the offline world, the easier it will be to have spiritual discussions that have online and offline results.  The more a community exists in a fantasy, or role playing, world, the longer it will take to pierce the vale of fantasy and have meaningful spiritual conversations.

The fantasy doesn’t make meaningful spiritual conversation impossible, but it does lengthen the process and potentially slow multiplication.  The learning curve for catalysts is much steeper in fantasy communities as well, which can also slow multiplication.

Does this mean we don’t engage fantasy worlds in Second Life.  Not at all!  It means we change how we measure catalyst activities and understand the difficulties in operating in a foreign setting.

What do you think?  Does this echo your experience?  I consider this to be a learning blog, so if I’m wrong please correct me.

I’ll keep you posted as I test this hypothesis.  Continue praying for me as I search for Persons of Peace in Second Life, Twitter, Plurk, Rejaw, MySpace, Pownce, etc.

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3 Responses to “Hitting the Church Planting Sweet Spot”

  1. Dennis Muse on August 27th, 2008 8:29 am

    It really depends on ones definition of church and the goal for that church. If your definition of church is an institution with set programs, professional entertainers to provide song and music, a large building and million-dollar budget. You’re right you need lot of training and education. If the goal is a Meg church complete with a Starbucks and 10,000 attendees. Diffidently must a have a well-defined business plan and lots of money.

    But on the other hand if you what to start a real church, a biblical church, that takes very little. Just being a disciple of Jesus, spiritual mature, mature in their walk with Christ. A lover of God’s word, well studied, being transformed by the gospel and walking in the Spirit daily. Be a man of prayer, a disciple and a discipler and obedient to the command of Jesus to Go into the world, preach the gospel and make disciples. A.K.A, meet all the requirements of Titus 1:5-9 and I Tim 3:1-13 thus demonstrating their maturity in Christ, obedience to the word of God and they walk in the spirit.

    The only plan you really need is the bible blueprint for church Acts 2:40-47 and I Cor 14:26.

    Take Dennis for instants, he shares the gospel with 3 coworkers the Lord is reviling Himself to, they accept God’s call and give their lives to Christ. Every day Dennis and those 3 join two other Christians at work for lunch for one hour a day they gather and brake bread, share a meal, have a time of song and praise to God, study the bible, have time of prayer and fellowship. Guess what? Dennis just planted a church, they have church every day they meet. All the elements are there, all the element we see in Acts 2:40-47. And Jesus said where 2 or more gather in my name I am with them, so where 2 or more and Jesus are, church happens. You see size does not make it church, it only take 2, not 200 or 2000.

    And then those 3 coworkers also join Dennis at his house every week where he has a house church with 10 of his neighbors, 8 of which are new followers of Jesus, they have every element we see in Acts 2:40-47 as well as I Cor 14:26. Dennis has planted two churches, see how easy it is, and I tell you more real church happens in both of these gatherings than any meg-church.

    See how simple it really is, and yes it really is that simple. You see if your definition of Church is Jesus’, Paul’s, God’s. If the goal, vision for it is the biblical one, Acts 2:40-47 and 1Cor 14:26. To make disciples and to send out others to fulfill the great commission, no big building is required, no paid professional staff is needed, no money, no set of programs, no professional entertainers, no seminary education of business plan. Only what Jesus said in Act 1:8, the Spirit of God, to Go as Jesus said to and do what Jesus said, and the blueprint for church found in I Cor 14:26 and Acts 2:40-47.

    Take a look at a chart I made on a missional church, you might find it of interest:


  2. Paul D. Watson on August 27th, 2008 9:02 am

    Hey Dennis,

    I appreciate your post. Looks like you’ve put a lot of thought into it and, from your blog, are walking it out. That’s cool.

    I may get into some trouble, but here goes: Just because something isn’t in the Bible doesn’t make it wrong or anti-Biblical. Jesus never went to Starbucks, but I don’t think it is a sin for me to get a Carmel Frappaccino. There is not a detailed description of a wedding ceremony in the Bible, but I don’t think I angered God when I married my sweetheart in a traditional American ceremony.

    Acts deals with the start of church. The New Testament outlines the behaviors Christ wants to see in His bride. I think church planting starts with what we see in the New Testament. What a church plant looks like in 10, 15, or 50 years is really up to how the church body chose to obey Scripture within their context. If they seek to obey all the commands of Christ, who am I to judge them for being large? Or for having a building? Or for having a coffee shop? Was the man with 10 talents better than the man with 5 when both were faithful? The key is faithfulness and obedience to all the commands of Christ.

    As a follower of Christ, I do have the responsibility to ask hard questions, to always point to the Word and search out it’s meaning. Even if I feel that I’m doing exactly what God wants, Paul’s words ring in my ears, “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.” 1 Corinthians 4:2-5

    To turn this discussion back to the Online Generation (which was never mentioned in the Bible, by the way), how do we see church planting/spiritual community catalyzing happen in an online context? How does it start, a la the New Testament, and how might it develop - whether big or small?


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