I was once in a meeting where we were thinking about church planting. There were four people round the table, and as we chatted round the coffee mugs, it became clear that each of us filled a different role, because we each saw church planting from a different, but necessary perspective.
It was a very early days discussion of course, but even if none the ideas discussed ever happened, I learnt a valuable lesson that day in four perspectives on church planting, which anyone, from any church grouping, can share.
And, before we go any further, we should flag up prayer, of course. This is a spiritual task and a supernatural battle. We are told to ‘watch and pray’; the four perspectives below fit under the ‘watch’ heading, I think, but we prayed, and not for the first or last time.
One person saw things from a city-wide perspective. He looks at transport links, infrastructure, and the potential for hub churches to train others in planting. He can see population density and moves, and spiritual need. He reads the city.
Whatever your church grouping, you need to get together with someone, or some other pastors, to see the big picture for the place where you live. Get the maps out, look at the bus routes, and see where the housing developments are coming up. Stand back and look.
The pastor aw things from the congregation’s perspective, the congregation from which the plant would be commissioned. Pastors think people, ministries and resources: what do we need, who do we give away, how do we replace them, and how do we get into a rhythm of planting in the years ahead.
In the balancing of costs against benefits, Pastors will see the costs, but have to believe for the benefits.
Pastors inevitably take this view, and we need to realise that in the balancing of costs against benefits that we pastors will see the costs, but have to believe for the benefits. That is, if we give away X people, who give Y to our budget, then I will see the impact of both on our activities and our budgets. I have to believe that the transfer of X and Y to a new congregation will produce a greater kingdom impact than keeping them with us.
The potential planter saw things from a potential perspective. He sees unused schools, warehouses, churches facing closure. He looks at parking restrictions, bus routes and wheelchair access, how close to the high street, how far up the hill. He looks at where people congregate, the movements during the day.
More than that, he’ll probably be analysing several areas with a similar grid. should we look here, or there? Weighing, balancing, not committing too early to the decision, but trying out severable viable options
The planter was also offered a coach – and indeed, there was someone in the room being coached as well. Coaches see things from the perspective of the future of the planter: how can I help you to improve? What knowledge, skills or spiritual maturity needs to be in place before you can take the next step? How we can we make sure that, although this is your first plant, it won’t be your last?
At the moment, because the planter is on a church’s staff, his pastor will do a bit of that. But when he flies the nest, he’s off that to-do list but on someone else’s.
So that’s my new lesson: how four, gospel hearted people, see the same task from four, necessary, complementary perspectives.
What else do we need to pay attention to? Pile in!