I've been mulling over the overnight consultation on church planting at KIng's Park, Northampton, we had last week.
It was an interesting experience and time will tell as to whether it will be fruitful. I say this because, as in many other things, when all is said and done, there's alot more said than done!
A number of things were evident, from my perspective at least!We are still struggling with breaking away from a model of church planting reliant upon paid full-time leadership. Many people are commenting we shall need to rely upon many more bi-vocational models of ministry in the future, but we have little experience to lean upon. There are some encouraging signs here and there, but most of the bi-vocational talk seems to be coming from financial and numerical anxiety, rather than any clear missional thinking. Personally, I'm leaning towards bi-vocational approaches being a distinct advantage for planters, but that may be easy for me to say from a full-time paid ministry perspective (and at least a perceived keeper of the institution as well!).
The institutions are still struggling with the pioneers and the pioneers are still struggling with the institutions. This is one of reasons I am advocating the regional associations having more of a say in the strategic use of Home Mission money, for example.
Money and resources still play too larger part and reduce our ability to think strategically. Just picked up a book called 'Starting from zero with $0'. It's inevitably American - why? Surely we have less money, so someone here should have written this one!
Discipleship remains the weakest link in our positioning around church planting, as well as inherited models. Too many people are splitting over the emerging church conversation - it feels like the old divergence separating evangelism and social action has re-emerged with new language. We've also started using the 'movement' word, as if talking about it will change anything in and of itself. A greater emphasis upon helping churches, new and old, being disciple making communities might help us, me thinks.