Just over a year ago, I wrote a blog post called “Is our understanding of ‘church’ important?” In that post, I discussed a conversation that I had with a hairdresser, and in that conversation it became clear that she was taught and shown what I think is an invalid understanding of what it means to be “the church”. I concluded with this:
She did not learn that church is a community of believers who desire to encourage one another in their life. She did not learn that church is a Spirit-empowered and Spirit-led group of people. She did not learn that any believer is just as important as any other believer.
What did she learn? She learned that church is a place to go. She learned that what happened outside of the building was of negligible value to God. She learned that only professionals are capable of understanding and communicating the Bible.
The way we meet together as the church communicates more about our understanding of the church than most people realize. But, what about our methods of beginning a new church – often called “church planting”? What do these “church planting methodologies” say about our understanding of the church?
Consider two examples. First, Guy at “The M Blog” has written about “13 guiding values for our church planting” – which he calls “La Iglesia En Tu Casa” (LIETC) – the church in your house. Here are a few excerpts:
1.) LIETC is built upon a foundation of prayer, which is the most important work in which we are engaged. (Luke 10:2)
2.) LIETC is built upon the idea of mobilizing the laity. The laity is empowered to go and do tasks traditionally assigned only to trained professional clergy. (Eph.4:11-12, 1 Pet.2:9-10)
3.) LIETC is built upon the concept of taking the church to where the people are, rather than bringing the people to the church. (Matt.28:18-20, Luke 10:3)
Read Guy’s post for the remaining 10 “guiding values”. I think that all of these values are important for all church – not just new churches. The only thing that I would change is the use of the terms “laity” and “clergy”, but even in this respect I agree with his goal.
Now, compare the above guidelines with an article from “Out of Ur” called “McChurch: I’m Lovin’ It“. Apparently, Eddie Johnson is starting a church in Nashville, TN, and “espouses the franchising concept” in relationship with NorthPoint Community Church near Atlanta. According to the article:
On his blog, he states, “Just like a Chick-fil-A, my church is a ‘franchise,’ and I proudly serve as the local owner/operator.”
According to Johnson, his job is to “establish a local, autonomous church that has the same beliefs, values, mission, and strategy as North Point.” He completed a three-month internship at North Point and continues to receive training and support. He claims to rarely deviate from the “training manual.”
“Just like that Chick-fil-A owner/operator,” he says, “I’m here in Nashville to open up our franchise and run it right. I believe in my company and what they are trying to ‘sell.'”
Yes, I think our “methodologies” speak volumes about our understanding of the church. In fact, I also think our methodologies speak volumens about our understanding of God, Christ, mankind, sin, ourselves, and other people.
Have you thought about what your practices and methodologies are telling people about your understanding of God, Christ, and the church?