I quote the following from Peter Roennfeldt’s 24 May 2012 newsletter. If you want more stimulation of this kind, here are Peter’s contact details:
SUBSCRIBE/UNSUBSCRIBE/CHANGE ADDRESS: advise Peter Roennfeldt in writing [email protected] with details of name and email address.
And now for what Peter wrote.
Every existing church was at one time a church plant. I am not sure for how long they can be called a new plant (maybe for 2 to 3 years!) – but what I do know is, every plant institutionalises and the freshness to reach new people for Jesus diminishes. This is true of all – house churches, simple churches, cafe churches, community churches, etc. From his New Testament letters we get the impression Paul faced this reality. The household (oikos) churches that he cultivated quickly institutionalised and his later letters addressed in-house issues.
What are some indicators of institutionalisation? Here are some not usually mentioned:
- We are not reaching our friends as we were in the first year or so.
- We have lost contact with a lot of our friends and neighbors.
- People sometimes ‘come’ but usually only once or twice.
- Our kids and teens have moved on!
- People sometimes come to a one-off event, but don’t usually come back to worship.
- We really enjoy the support and encouragement that we get from each other, and are very comfortable. It is good!
- We are so busy with what we do that we have no time to relax and share with the friends in the community.
Over the last month I have met with some amazing groups and creative churches in Australia and Europe. Some have existed for a year or two – and others for a decade. Some have inspired church planters from all over the world – churches like CafeKirken and FaceOut in Denmark. Others are made up of 4 or 5 families – inviting friends to meet with them to share life and follow Jesus. But a common concern has been: we can quickly lose contact with lost people!
Institutionalised churches try to get people to join them – and seem to want to get bigger. Missional groups go out to share faith in fresh ways in their relational streams – with new faith groups constantly multiplying in their social networks.
Jesus explained and modeled how to do it: go out and eat with people, heal them, and share the news of God’s upside down kingdom. (Luke 10:8, 9) We have learnt that every new church (and existing church, however small) benefits from planting a second within a year – at the most, two years. Multiplication is natural if cultivated as an attitude from the beginning.
Be courageous – and multiply into new relational networks.
Amen, Peter. May God continue to grow communities of living faith and effective witness through your ministry!
Arthur Patrick, posted 24 May 2012