Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Three Stumbling Blocks to Church Plant (or Possible Estab. Church) Growth

There are times when doctrine plays a role in attracting or repelling potential new church start goers.  Consider a few examples.  You might imagine whether a church is charismatic or not influences decisions.  In our area, a large glut of charismatic church starts has sucked up all of the potential charismatics.  The ones that have been around the longest have a lions share of that doctrinal view.  Perhaps this is less an issue in a very large city, though it is clearly an issue in a small or medium sized one.

Doctrine could be desirable or undesirable in still another way.  The Lord created men and women a certain way, with certain attributes innately, Genesis 1-2.  Men who are leaders out of a desire to honor the Lord are not making just a praxis decision, but are also modeling in some capacity God's call on men in the family.  A man likewise who makes a strong effort to provide for his future family is going to be more desirable to most ladies.  This is simply true in churches as well.  A church which rejects complementarianism, in favor of a neutered reality, rejects Christian doctrine of humanity.  So the sensing of weak follower men can doctrinally drive away men looking for real men as friends and ladies looking for a solid Christian man or a good witness for her sons or daughters growing up.

Then there are times when practice can bring in or drive out attenders and possible future members.  Practice in one sense is always doctrinal.  However, for this short article, we'll assume that practice is somewhat separate from doctrine in some sense.

Here are three things a new church start team should avoid in practice (not doctrine):

1.) Obscure names for the church and its ministries.

Just think about it.  The longer the name of a new church the harder it will be for people to remember it and find it online.  It's also harder to remember it in conversation in bringing up a place to go.  Just think about the difficulty people have in spelling or remembering even fairly normal first and last names.  Those are names we hear and see all the time.  Add in a church name that no one has ever seen and those who are curious will forget it, misspell it, and end up somewhere else.

2.) Obscure location for the church's worship.

As obvious as this seems, it is ignored for the sake of expediency in 'having a place.'  The desire to get up and going often overrules long term awareness in the community.  It's a big risk.  Finding a good location can be difficult and those who have tried will agree.  The hoops to jump through to make even a simple rental agreement and then later on several years purchase commercially happen are immense.  It's best however to stay where people go.

3.) Not moving around.

Some advice recommends you stay put in the same place.  The thinking goes that as you advertise a place, you do not want to lose that awareness.  People would be surprised to find that some of the fastest growing churches utilized a strategic movement strategy to reach more friends for Christ. While it is true, if you move, some may leave your core team.  It is also true you pick up more new friends and reach people who do not make nearby locations an issue.  If you think about the kind of person who complains about an extra five minutes drive, losing them is really no loss at all.  It's a benefit.  In fact, Saddleback Church grew using this strategy of moving nearby (read not far).
There is nothing inherently special about staying put or moving.  Neither is per se by itself anything.  Nor is it necessarily wise to move in every church's case.  Consider however, God's view of movement in Scripture, just as a way to think if it would benefit a church start-plant, or in rare cases an established church.  What was mobile in the Bible?  The ark of the covenant.  The tabernacle for worship.  The priestly 'yes' and 'no' answer tool in the Temple system under Moses' Law.  God, think about that, instructed them to build a MOBILE worship center.

Then in the NT we worship God in spirit and in truth where we are.  True, we are called to gather in worship, but we also must realize that God is on the move, working where we are.  The living God is present in our lives.  A church start can move, if it needs to do so.  In fact, it may be a move to where God will work next.  In moving, sage advice is to NOT move very far.  Stay in the same area, otherwise it may simply be too difficult for core members to still come as well.  Yet a move itself is not wrong.

I hope this blesses you, it's hard won advice, and one part of it is rare, have a great week!

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