In the past week, I have come across two (small) denominations who are revising their views on church planting. Rather than planning on traditional church planting with the expense of buildings and trained staff, both denominations are looking at a simple/organic approach to missions. They are encouraging their existing churches to plant out daughter simple/organic churches and any other church planting that goes on will likely be with simple/organic churches.
Photo credit: the real Kam75 (Creative Commons)
So I emailed a friend of mine (who for various reasons has asked not to be named) to tell me about his experience of transitioning a legacy church into a network of simple/organic churches. I also asked him to comment on running a second track–that is, of having a separate and parallel group with a missional emphasis that runs alongside a legacy church. Here are his thoughts as to the viability of doing so:
- If the leadership team fully understands that the church is not the end, but the Kingdom, and is open to a variety of ministry situations that are not necessarily alike, or even traditional in nature
- If that leadership team is willing to give up control and simply see what God can do with believers who have a different mentality than the existing status quo
- If the senior leader sees the house church approach as being just as viable as the traditional approach and has a “releasing mentality” rather than a “containing mentality”
- If equal time and resources are given to the “house church ministry arm,” not seeing it as a fad approach for those weird people who don’t want to fit into a mold, but that it is “just as important as anything else in the church.” (I remember from many years ago, that one church I was in enjoyed great success in a lot of areas. But the truth was that if a ministry idea didn’t fit with the Senior Pastor, it never got off the ground.)
- If there is an expansion of the vision that put the house church ministry on equal footing with every other ministry — so that even those who don’t want to participate can encourage and affirm those who do. Its the whole idea of not thinking that “my way” is the only way. Jesus said, “If they’re not against us, they’re for us!
In another way of saying it, its moving from a church centric vision, to a kingdom centric vision!
The framework of the existing church could be very helpful to those who do want to start house churches or be a part of them. All of the legal aspects would be covered by the existing church structure, releasing those who were participating in the house churches to do so without some of the difficult issues which can arise in the whole area of administration.
Again, I do think that this could be a viable alternative to transitioning the whole church. it would actually be like a two track church approach, (kind of like the many churches today who say they have a traditional service and a contemporary service!) The key issue, I believe, is based upon the vision for the whole entity. And it would have to come from the senior leader, if it was going to have any chance of success!