With so much blogging on church planting at the moment I thought I’d give my two cents worth. Some people are feeling frustrated by the focus on church planting (yes in case you’re wondering, Simone and I do talk as well as blog!) but I have to say I’m excited about the serious discussion of church planting that’s been happening, and in particular the plans for an Australian church planting network (details here).
For a start I’m involved with the Home Missions Committee of the Presbyterian Church of Queensland. We’re responsible for providing some leadership and resources for church planting in the denomination, and we need all the help we can get. The opportunities for church planting in Queensland are huge, but as with many older denominations we’re not exactly well connected with the 21st century or flexible (the name ‘Home Missions Committee’ says it all!). To link in with a wider church planting network could give us some extra clarity and confidence when it comes to making the hard decisions about the changes that will be needed for widespread effective church planting to take place.
The second reason I’m excited about the idea of a church planting network, and discussion about church planting more generally, is that hopefully it will put evangelism on the agenda for all ministries. And I think this is vital. The reality is that the majority of churches are not going to be church plants, at least for some time to come, and after a few years even church plants become established churches anyway (our church was planted – in 1896!). So if we’re serious about reaching Australia for Christ we’re going to have to work long and hard at helping our established churches become more evangelistic and church planting is kind of like Formula 1 racing – a breeding ground for innovations which find their way back to the average cars most of us drive. The exciting, intense context of new church plants are going to throw up lots of new, effective strategies for gospel growth in all churches.
I think it would be naive to think that a church planting network is a silver bullet that will suddenly solve all our problems in effective church planting. But I am hopeful it will be an important peice in the jigsaw that will assist in stacks of new churches being planted (especially around Queensland) and promoting a new enthusiasm and creativity in evangelism in more established churches. I’d certainly like to be a part of that!