Church Planters = Community Seeders

By Shannon Youell

I have a confession to make.

I’m not sure what I think about the term ‘church planting’. In fact, since coming into the role of Church Plant coordinator/director, I have been trying to find a succinct descriptive of what we mean when we talk about planting churches.

Photo: Tez Goodyer

Photo: Tez Goodyer

I’ve asked the question to any who would hear me out and asked for suggestions, thoughts, wild ideas even. Not because I think the term is a bad one or anything, but because, like any word or term that we routinely toss about, we have preconceived ideas of what that looks like and for me at least, the term speaks recreating/reproducing structures. Build and they will come. And some will for sure and I am ever so grateful that one can find churches all over communities when the Spirit begins to woo the curious to return to what has been rejected or to discover what they’ve always yearned for.

But is that recreating/reproducing of places of worship the metric we should use to determine if the Great Commission is being fulfilled? I just don’t see where Jesus called us to be church planters though he certainly majored on the making of disciples and commissioned us to do the same.

So, for me, the metric is that we are disciples of Jesus who make disciples (of not yet and new believers) who grow into communities who choose to gather together to worship, pray, teach, learn, eat, laugh, mourn, and sometimes even ‘do’ life together, not only for an hour and a half on Sunday or Wednesday study or prayer time, but also when we scatter into our everyday lives and the everyday places we find ourselves into and scatter seeds of gospeling as image bearers; light bearers of Christ, who make disciples who grow into communities who choose to gather together…..

Maybe that is how you would describe church planting and I just have to get over my preconceived bias of what the term seems to represent, but either way as followers of Christ, each and everyone of us (not just ‘leaders’ or ‘pastors’ my friends) but every single one of us who confesses Jesus as our Savior and our Lord, fall under the descriptive. We are the ‘church planters’, the ‘community seeders’, the disciples and disciple makers.

I would love to hear any ideas you might have on how we can rethink our language around ‘church planting’, or ways you are re-framing , or ways you are re-framing your gathered faith community to become disciples who make disciples?

Email me at syouell@cbwc.ca, or post a comment on this blog.

We can all learn from one another, so let’s start sharing!

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6 thoughts on “Church Planters = Community Seeders

  1. I have attended a few new ‘church plants’ Shannon. My sense is those who gather to plant now are ‘community seeders’ now versus ‘church ‘ as a building that holds a group of people every Sunday in their good clothes!! The more we focus on every joint supplying and genuine relationships with each other, and others in our community the more we will see Him and have more unity and less labels. Bless you 🙏

  2. Hi Shannon,
    I appreciated your article.
    A word is a picture…and so when we use the word … church planting etc it conveys a picture… what is the picture we want to convey, what is the picture people will perceive?

    A couple of thoughts… my wife and I have been in the middle east involved in church planting for numbers of years.

    15 years ago the big thing was about doing “church planting” – CP…. then about 8 years ago they adjusted it calling it (Church Planting Movements – CPM).
    The big thing in this adjustment was that we get away from feeling that a church is planted and so we are content when in fact the great commission is still not complete.
    Movements communicate life, growth, reproduction.

    Another big word picture shown to us was… are we aiming for an elephant type church or a rabbit type church…?
    The idea here being when you do a comparison between the two animals on the following subjects
    – the cost of feeding one versus the other
    – age of maturity
    – length of gestation
    – the number of young
    One can begin to see that a traditional type of church requires a lot resources to start it and keep it alive, that reproduction is often quite slow as it focuses on traditional styles of leadership training.
    But a cell church can have less financial overheads, looks to quickly equip through on the job training and modeled to depend upon the Lord in this process, and a great emphasis for all members of the cell churches to be active in evangelism and discipleship, recognising that the members of a body are unique, made up of people with individual and different personalities and characters…and so evangelism and discipleship will be unique to each one accordingly, however the emphasis is that there is “intentionality”.

    Just a few thoughts…

    I’ve heard recently of a new acronym… DMM’s ( I think, but not sure – Discipleship Making Movements)

    Grace and peace

  3. Hi Shannon,

    I was interested in your comments about church planting. When I first became involved in church planting in 1974, I’m not sure the term was even being used. I remember explaining to people what the term actually meant. To me and my collegue, Joyce Oxnard, it was never “structure based” with that in mind but always “people, disciple making and evangelism”. Structures were added but only after the people came to the homes, schools and other structures already in place in the community. In one case it was the chambers of city hall!

    Maybe we need to emphasize more that the church is people and use another term for the structure like the Bretheran do and call the structure, “the Gospel Hall”. I love the term “Planter” because it gives the whole concept of a varity of seeds planted in different places with differnet conditions needed to grow, with different fruit, maturing times, pruning methods, fertilizer and so on but always remembering that it is God who gives the increase. Such was the case in the five fields where we “Planted” churches.

    The fields are ripe for sure, the harvest is ready as a result of many people seeding and planting in the past. Reaping is such a great time whether it is 30, 60 or 100 fold! Thank you for reminding us all of our responsibility!

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