church planting

Two interesting links that I ran across yesterday. Both of them are in this post by Reformissionary and the Dan Kimball article was also mentioned in this post by Chris Marlow.

The question I have is about church planting. Mark Driscoll talks at length about the Acts 29 church planting network here. it is a fascinating and low key talk that is quite enlightening. He discusses the “marks” of an Acts 29 church plant and what kind of gift set is needed to qualify for their program. In passing he mentions that the church plants in the network that are doing well have strong bible teaching with sermons typically lasting 45 minutes to an hour.

By contrast, Dan Kimball is having some doubts about missional churches that have been planted lately. In case you don’t know, Dan Kimball is considered to be one of the beginners of the emerging church movement. I read his book, the Emerging Church, back in 2003 when I was beginning my own exploration of what church is and should be. I thought his diagnosis of the problems in churches was spot on but that his prescription for change was superficial and silly.

Dan’s current article is enjoyable because it is honest and self aware in a way that most people avoid most of the time. For instance, this is how he begins:

I hope I am wrong. For the past few years, I have been observing, listening, and asking questions about the missional movement. I have a suspicion that the missional model has not yet proven itself beyond the level of theory. Again, I hope I am wrong.

He then goes on to give some examples of missional churches, house churches and traditional attractional model churches and checks their actual results in lives won to the Kingdom of God and people’s lives reflecting that goal. Fascinating.

Go check out these two items. compare and contrast the approaches and results. Do some research on your own. Think about why a church would succeed in reaching the lost and effectively discipling them and why one wouldn’t.

It occurs to me that the power of God flows through his word and the honest effective straightforward expositional preaching thereof. Once the preaching ingredient is in place, then the rest of the church’s success in reaching and changing depends on the effectiveness of the shepherding plans in place. people need care and guidance as they shift their frame of reference, their worldview from self advancement to the advancement of God’s glory and kingdom. Everything else involved in a church plant are negotiable details.

what do you think?

I have to tell you that my experience is as a sunday school teacher in adult Bible study. I began by using the regular Southern Baptist curriculum. I used a couple of different kinds over the first few years. Both of them were absolute jokes. They were dumbed down, foolish and insulted the intelligence of my class. I eventually began using them as starting points for text and did my own lessons and finally discarded them altogether after a few years.

When I abandoned curriculum altogether, I started teaching the Bible expositionally. We did Daniel, Revelation, Romans, Philippians, Hebrews and I Peter that I can remember right now. We also did some quicker looks at minor prophets, Joel, Jonah, Haggai, Habakkuk, and Hosea. Some Sundays we would cover four or five verses and other Sundays we might cover a dependent phrase in one verse. We took as long as it took to cover the material effectively. We took some Sundays off to cover special events like holidays or something that came up and needed attention in a more topical manner, but then we returned to the text of whatever book we were studying. It took more than a year to make it through each of Romans and Hebrews. But what wonderful years well spent.

Numerically, our classes did well and, more importantly, there was evidence of life change occurring in our class members. What I learned is that God uses and blesses the straightforward honest expositional teaching and preaching of his word. Gimmicky lesson plans that don’t challenge the learner are not valuable.

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