Blog
September 18, 2017

Eight Trends in Church Planting, Part Two


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In this week’s post we continue with Doug McClintic, Church Multiplication Catalyst for Luminex, as he discusses the last four of eight trends that he is observing in church planting:

Trend 5: The marriage of the church as both congregation and missional community.
Over the past 20 years pitting the gathered congregation of believers who meet in a particular place, against a more organic and lightweight missional community of believers, has become a major sport among church leaders.  The former has been discarded by many as an “old wineskin” and the latter has been embraced as a new utopia, in which the church finally recaptures its radical essence.  Or flip it, and the gathered congregation is seen as the real church and missional community and informal fellowship as “playing church.”  Currently, I am seeing a trend toward the blending of these two approaches in a way that is life giving, often confusing and challenging, and very welcome.  Congregations are here to stay in the industrialized West.  Missional communities in all of their variations are helping us to navigate the complex social architecture of our post-christian global society.  The work of Joseph Myers, Stephen Breen and many others has helped us to see that intimate, personal, social and public spaces are all necessary in the Church’s purpose to glorify God and make disciples.

Trend 6: A growing understanding of context and how the Gospel relates to that context.
Another welcome trend is an increasing awareness of the need for a contextual missiology in North America as we plant new churches.  Tim Keller’s major work Center Church addresses this in a thorough yet accessible volume, as does his work in planting Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.  Planters are more interested and aware of the community around them than they were two decades ago.  This goes beyond demographic studies and academic pursuits, to real time involvement in the lives of people in context.  The challenge of rural communities is starting to become a topic of conversation as they are moved more to the margins of society through the process of globalization and urbanization.  Consideration of strategy and best practices in the urban environment has started to come into it’s own.  Church planting in center, mid, sub, and exurban contexts are all on the radar screen of church planting agencies and leaders.  A growing understanding of how new churches can be a sign of the Kingdom in multi-cultural and ethnic communities is on the horizon as well.

Trend 7: The emergence of leadership development as a key church planting competency.
Leadership development and the construction of “leadership pipelines” is becoming a core discipline of the church planter and those who successfully plant new churches.  This is in part a reaction to the “planter as omni-gifted superhuman” narratives of 20 years ago, but for the most part it is a necessity brought about by the collapse of traditional approaches to leadership development.  There is a new understanding of how a church in North America “holds together” and grows.  Leadership in the church has to be shared beyond the paid staff of a congregation and so the discernment, development and deployment of leaders becomes a primary focus of the church planter’s time and energy.  Twenty years ago the focus of leadership develop efforts was the recruitment, selection, training and coaching of professional church planters.  This yielded significant results.  Over the next 20 years the focus must shift to helping professional and paraprofessional church planters develop a significant group of disciples who grow into leaders and in turn become leaders of other leaders.

Trend 8: Opening “new lanes” for planting in different areas and contexts.
Ed Stetzer in Viral Churches offered the idea of opening new lanes, as a grocery store manager would as the currently open lanes fill up, for different streams of church planters and church planting.  He urged church multipliers to continue to do what they do in planting new churches, but to also be open to developing new ways of planting, new ways of raising up and sending out church planters, so that new populations and communities could be reached with the Gospel and gathered into a local church community.  In the Great Lakes Region, Luminex is opening new lanes as we help to send church planters to special needs populations, under resourced communities, and unreached people groups.  We support planting projects like the Church of Benjamin’s Hope, reaching out to families who include a person with Autism; Nepali Speaking Community Church, connecting with the unreached Nepali speaking refugees from Bhutan; and Hesed Community Church, touching lives in the Brightmoor neighborhood of Detroit.  A unique partnership is emerging in West Michigan with DOOR International as we seek to find ways to engage the Deaf population living near Grand Rapids and Holland.  More examples of opening church planting lanes are on the way.

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