Last week a party of us went up to Berlin for the EBF Mission Conference 2016, “Welcoming the Stranger”. This conference, the theme of which was planned before the events of last summer, looked at Baptist responses to the refugee crisis across Europe. There have been several reports already about the conference, and I thought I would just add in a few reflections of my own.
I spent some of yesterday reading through ‘Uncomfortable Growth‘,1Thanks to Jesse Duley for the gift of the book! a book on mission and church planting by UK Vineyard pastor Rick Williams. It’s really quite an interesting read, and I will probably do a more detailed review later. But I wanted to share some of his thoughts on creating a church planting culture.
He identifies seven factors which are necessary for a church planting culture to flourish in any given local church:2Rick Williams, Uncomfortable Growth, (Self Published: 2015), 182-3
- pastor’s vision for church planting which is integrated in the church’s vision from day one
- leaders taking the lead in praying for release of church planting and for called church planters.
- Sharing regularly with the church the church planting vision – Williams argues that this will include teaching and a careful undermining of a cultural obsession with ‘safety’. Encouraging the church to be willing to bear the cost of church planting.
- Intentional means of spending time with and training potential leaders and church planters. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak, guide and empower.
- Insist on deep discipleship
- Demonstrate multiplication of ministry at every area of church life (leaders who train leaders who train leaders)
- Draw inspiration and encouragement from the wider movement – connect with others who are passionate about reproducing churches and have church planters rub shoulders with others on the same journey.
Rick Williams knows what he’s on about and has modeled these factors in his own ministry. He planted Riverside City Vineyard at the end of the 80s, at the time one of the first Vineyard churches in the United Kingdom. Riverside has since gone on to plant 14 other churches in the United Kingdom, including my very own old undergraduate church The Kingdom Vineyard in Scotland.
It is my desire that this sort of church planting dynamic becomes the norm in every church – that sacrificial multiplication becomes seen as one of the key ways of doing mission. Not because church planting is particularly cool at the moment, but because churches planting other churches is an essential component of the nature of the church.
As Williams shows, it means intentional work at every level of church life to create the kind of culture where church plants are possible and seen as normal – but I pray it will ever more come to characterise our churches.
Footnotes [ + ]
|1.||↑||Thanks to Jesse Duley for the gift of the book!|
|2.||↑||Rick Williams, Uncomfortable Growth, (Self Published: 2015), 182-3|