Urban Expression have an on-going poll running on their website asking the question:
When should a church plant no longer be considered a 'plant'?:
When it reaches a certain size (e.g. 50 or above)
If it lasts more then X number of years
From Day 1
When it is indigenous and self-sufficient
Other (Please comment)
I know I’m struggling with answering the same question. We refer to our ‘church plants’ here in the West and tend to easily include Churches, which have been up and running in various understandings of the word ‘church’ for a number of years, as well as other groups. What increasingly bothers me is they are invariably dependent upon a ‘Rev’ Minister. I’m pretty convinced now we need to find a way within our structures of ‘holding’ plantings at whatever stage prior to them becoming a fully constituted congregation.
I’m not a great greenhouse gardener – partly because I don’t pay enough consistent attention at the seedling stage. I do know this much – that’s the stage when the plants are at their most vulnerable. Forget to water for even a few days and it’s curtains – and this will be true whether you’re growing lettuce or oak trees. When they get a little bigger and stronger you usually end up thinning out – removing the weakest to allow some, a fewer number, to thrive. I realise analogies like this have their limits, but where are the seedlings going to come from if we make every attempt to plant dependent on being ‘Rev’ led? I know Alan Hirsch is advocating not using the term ‘Church’ plant – whilst I can fully appreciate the reasoning behind this we do need healthy groups of disciples of Jesus Christ! To call such a group a ‘Church’ may not be too sexy, but frankly, I don’t care what we’re called and I can’t be fussed arguing about the name. The issues need to be more focused on the outcomes – making disciples, authentic Christian relationships and engagement in your missionary context – it seems such outcomes are not determined by whatever we choose to call ourselves.All potential planters apply here!