I asked a question a few weeks ago:
“What if the best way to change a church is to plant a new one within it?”
Now, I’m asking a second, but also important question:
How do you get started? What steps need to be taken; what should be avoided?
It’s hard to say because not only am I not a church planter I’m also not a lead pastor. However, with that disclaimer in place, let’s proceed.
I think the point of planting a church in the church is to produce change, to revitalize a church, without making drastic or needlessly risky decisions. Perhaps your church is still moderately functional in the present climate and culture of your community. And yet, you recognize that what you’re doing and who you are isn’t sustainable long-term. By “planting a church” inside your current church, you could possibly prepare for the coming paradigm shift without looking like you’re rejecting the body you currently have.
But again, how do we plant this new church in a gentle, unobtrusive way? I’m currently reading Frank Viola’s Reimaging Church, and I wonder if there is a way to use his “house church” model to do this. Now, Frank is actually not an advocate of such an idea. He is fairly clear that this is an “either or” deal, and of course, he’d prefer if we all landed on the “house church” side of things.
And honestly, I think that in trying to answer the “how” in this way, I’m only creating a new one: “How does a inorganic, institutional church plant a church organically?” The answer to that is two-fold.
Firstly, open your eyes. It may have already happened. A group of people, gathered systematically can, over time and with God’s grace, be fused into an organic body, especially the core of that primary group.
Secondly, if this first point is true to some degree, one might reproduce this organic transformation by starting with a body of people already gathered together by external forces. If the members of the group are intentional and active in developing inter-group relationships, God may very well bless this group with the grace and unity needed to shift the external force to an internal one: love for God and love for others.
But which group might be best to start with? Which group is more likely to make the shift from external to internal, from artificially grouped to divinely united? Which group’s transformation will have the most impact on the larger institutional church?