Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Planting Missional Churches

Planting Missional Churches: Planting a Church That’s Biblically Sound and Reaching People in Culture by Ed Stetzer

I read Planting Missional Churches way back in February – actually on the plane on the way to and from Bangladesh. It’s 372 pages and I have never read a book of that length in literally two sittings. It is an excellent expose on church planting as a whole by one of the church planting godfather gurus. I recommend this book as a basic primer for church planting, though I might add others to that same list as ‘required reading’ for church planting, maybe even a little bit higher up on the list. The funny thing is how fast things change in culture and church culture to be specific, though, in a lot of contexts you wouldn’t know it. This book was written in 2006 and the trends are already changing so much.

The one biggest thing I take a way from Planting Missional Churches is the call for church planting to take a missiological posture. I believe this is what is missing from most attempts at ‘outreach’ – an ignorance or obliviousness to the context. Just like we would do on the “to the ends of the earth” mission fields, like learning the language, culture, customs, etc., we must have a posture of entering into a culture and speaking the language to allow our message to be truly understood and embraced. This books help to not only establish the need for contextualization but helps to set the stage for emerging culture 101 of North America.

Some of my favorite quotes from the text:

Establishing a missional church means that you plant a church that’s part of the culture you’re seeking to reach. 1

Today’s church planters should be: missional, incarnational, theological, ecclesiological, and spiritual. 3

Church planters are by nature entrepreneurs, mavericks, free spirits, sometimes even misfits… 3

In 2004, the latest year available, there are 11 churches for every 10,000 Americans. 9

With the increased professionalization (education) of the clergy, church planting has suffered. 9

The U.S. is the fifth largest mission field on earth. 13

Eighty to 85 percent of American churches are on the downside of their life cycle. 13

Our churches are dying, and our culture is changing. We know new churches can make a difference. Church planting is not easy, but without it the church will continue to decline in North America. 14

The end of Christendom allows the church to recognize that the gospel is distinct from Western culture. So the gospel must be addressed in fresh ways to the ever-changing population that’s disassociated itself from the “pseudo-Christian” roots…The new challenge is to bring the gospel to Western culture, including right here in North America, since it’s become so resistant to the gospel. 19

High content (being biblically sound) and high culture (being culturally relevant) aren’t mutually exclusive. 21

If anything, the church should err on the side of becoming futurists (rather than historians) in regard to culture. 23

The reformers expressed that as eccelsia simper reformada, the church always reforming. It would never arrive. That remains true today. As the culture changes, the church is compelled to change. 31

Biblical Basis of Church Planting: John 20:21; Luke 19:10; Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 1:23. 37-52

Churches need biblical eccesiology that enables them to function with efficiency and integrity. 90

Effective church planting is missionary work. 115

A key to ministry in the new era will be the creation of multiethnic faith communities that reflect the demographic makeup of their population. 123

Understanding postmodernity: denial of personal objectivity, uncertainty of knowledge, death of any all-inclusive explanation, the denial of the inherent goodness of knowledge, the rejection of progress, the surpremacy of community-based knowledge, and the disbelief in objective inquiry. 130

Church planters…embracing church planting as a way of life rather than a strategy…Rather than starting with a prescribed vision of what the church will look like (most good church planters spell this out in a vision prospectus or fund-raising proposal), proponents of this new way of planting churches (Missional/Incarnational) let their incarnation of Christ drive the mission in their community and beyond; and the church emerges out of that journey. 161

If church planting is missionary work, then the church planters and the planting team should think like missionaries in planning worship music. Leaders should choose the music based on the context. Music should be missiological (“like a missionary”) and serviceable in the context. 266