We had an excellent meeting last night with four couples who have a "church planting" desire. It gave us a chance to really explore the shift in our way of thinking about church.
For starters: you don't plant churches. Churches are movements; people-movements. We use this terminology "plant churches" to refer to starting organizational entities. This is something that anyone with basic marketing skills can do:
- Plan the event or gathering
- Choose the place and time
- Invite, market, advertize, whatever
- Pull off the event or gathering
- Evaluate the event
- Improve the event
- Plan the next one
Voila... a church as an organizational entity is "birthed." One can do this within the context of a simple or house church as well and the result will be simply a small organizational event or series of events (which we then call "church").
The shifting paradigm begins with the realization that God never calls anyone to plant churches. He calls us to plant Kingdom seed (Word, Spirit, life) into the lives and hearts of PEOPLE.
So how does this shift in paradigm play out?
- Focus on people, people, people.
- Carry in prayer the people in your sphere of influence... and all those that God has called you to: friends, acquaintances, ministry spheres, and people-groups that you have a calling to. True prayer is the starting point for serving PEOPLE from the heart and without recognition.
- Live 24/7 Kingdom lives everywhere we go: build relationships, love and compassion them, pray for divine appointments, go live among them, take the Kingdom of God and your own spiritual gifts everywhere that you go.
- Develop your ministry tools according to your spiritual gifts and use them to bless others. You will be doing this among Christians seeking more, hurting Christians, and non-Christians. Our caution here is to throw out old tools that are program-based, otherwise the organic gathering (step 5) will be headed in the wrong direction. Ministry must be relational, participatory, and bringing the person into their own encounter with God's Spirit and voice.
- As God leads, gather with those who are ready to gather. Take this gathering into whatever context is most suitable for them and the friends in their sphere that they will be reaching out to. These gatherings are participatory, Spirit-led, and easily reproducible.
This should lead to the reproduction of Christians who have the same 24/7 Kingdom-living DNA. Every single Christian becomes an active church/Kingdom-life planter by becoming involved in the interactive life of the Spirit in everyday life.