There are lots of ways to change the world--pick one!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Killing a Church Plant

Screwtape's 4 Easy Ways to Kill a Church Plant  
 Ok, they are not from Screwtape, but they sure sound like they are.

1. Establish a "Come To" environment, instead of a "Go To" environment. 

Many church-starts begin by going to a new community, but then set up a building for people "come to" in order to find God or Community or ... you fill in the blank. Going doesn't stop until we are staying in homes, transforming individuals, families and communities. See Matthew 10, Luke 9, and Luke 10.

2. Make Converts, instead of Disciples. 

Most churches are concerned with convincing people to believe like they do and adopt the church's peculiar doctrine - making converts. A disciple is one who believes like Jesus does and gives his or her life to be like Jesus and help others to find Jesus and become like Him. Converts are about a brand of church or denomination. Disciples are about obediently following the Master regardless of consequences.

No one wants our religion, or our style of worship, or our doctrines. Almost everyone wants to be a follower of God, a disciple of Jesus without the crud we have added in the modern church. Yes, there are some who will come to our churches. What about the 80-90% who will never darken the door of a traditional church? They will refuse to become converts. They may respond to the becoming disciples of the Creator of the Universe.

3. Grow Churches, instead of establishing new churches. 

I am frequently asked to consult with churches who are interested in starting new work. The first question I ask is, "Are you interested in growing your church, or in reaching your community for Christ?" Many people see these as the same. They are not. Growing a church is about getting more people to come to the church. The reality is that no single church appeals to even a miniscule part of society. Churches have personalities, and these personalities click with only a few. So, if you start out to simply grow a church, there is a limit to how many people can be reached, simply because most people will have zero interest in the church.

On the other hand, if you start out to reach a community, regardless of whether or not the new believers will come to any particular church, numerous churches with just the right personalities for new believers will be initiated. In the course of all these new groups being starting, the catalytic church or churches will grow.

One can't reach a community by trying to grow a church. But, if one reaches the community by all means available, the church that does this will grow.

4. Teach stuff, instead of obedience to all the commands of Christ. 

One of the most misquoted and misunderstood passages of the Bible is Matthew 28:18-20. Ask people, sometime, what this passage tells us to teach. I think you will be surprised by the number of people who will not say, "to obey." Most of our churches, and most of our doctrines, are about teaching facts or knowledge about the Bible or theology or doctrine, or our own particular brand of church.

We will not see significant church planting until and unless we are willing to teach everyone to obey all the commands of Christ, our Creator and God. How does one teach obedience? By being consistently obedient in public and in private, in word and in thought. Obedience is taught by an obedient life that supports daily life decisions from the principles of God's Word regardless of the consequences. A faithful life is an obedient life in all situations and circumstances regardless of the consequences of being obedient.

The Great Commission is one commission with four parts or commands. If any one of these commands is not obeyed, then the commission is broken and will not produced the fruit that God intended - obedient Disciples and Churches.

Matthew 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (NIV)

By David L. Watson