What ARE we planting?

by Shannon Youell

Thank you to one of our readers who brought up a couple of great questions in response to an article we reposted on our blog: “Five Church Planting Dangers” by Tim Chester.

Here is the response:

Great article re ‘what not to do’. However when you remove ALL of those possibilities it seems the “dream pool of concepts” is greatly diminished. It brings me back to a foundational question. WHAT are we seeking to plant? Where have we articulated our shared CBWC definition of a church plant?  Hugh Fraser

What I really liked about Chester’s article was that he pointed out both the dangers and the positives of different types of plant birthings and then summarized with succinct Constructive Principles: BE creative, positive, missional, contextual and biblical.  Whilst I realize these sound simple, any of us who have actually “done church” know how hard these things are!  Puzzled. CC David Goehring

But, the flaw I see in this article, and in this I pose the same question as Hugh: WHAT are we seeking to plant?  In each of Chester’s “models” the emphasis is on the creation or re-creation of communities that serve themselves. I don’t mean this in a negative way, as of course we are to love, serve and fellowship with one another, but when it comes to planting churches, is our biblical mission to create communities where “already followers” can gather?

At the risk of your (hopefully) constructive and thoughtful criticism, I humbly submit that the answer is mostly no, yet our methodologies and our ecclesiology often end up leaning towards the former.

The five models Chester highlights—and there are many variations thereof—are all models the church has used and each has pros and cons within their unique contexts.  But what we really need is a principle that works in any context.

Jesus’ model was about growing disciples to maturity so that they could make disciples who could grow disciples to maturity who could then make disciples.  He wasn’t “making” churches, but disciples, and in that Jesus builds his ekklesia: a group of people who are citizens and thus free, called to gather together  to have an affect on the communities and cities they live in by introducing the kingdom of God into the places and spaces where darkness still has a hold.  These are the type of disciples Jesus calls us to be and to make.

Now, this is a blog and research shows that this post is already getting too long for the average attention span of our post-modern sound-bite world, so I will not even attempt to go further here on that statement at this time, except to say that I wonder what it would look like if our energy and resources were poured into making those who have received Jesus as Savior, to developing ourselves and one another into mature disciples who can truly also let Jesus be our Lord and live our lives in complete devotion to the things He is devoted to.  The good news is that we do it right here, right now in our own places and spaces where we live, work, play and pray.  This is our mission field and it is ripe to harvest.

Oh, and I will address Hugh’s second question next time!  In the meantime watch this little clip from Verge Network of David Platt talking about just this topic….it will only cost you another few minutes!


I would love to have dialogue with you on this topic. Come and join the conversation! Email me at syouell@cbwc.ca or comment on the blog. Every viewpoint is welcome, and I believe even when we disagree on something, that if we respectfully read and listen, we can all learn from one another.

Till next time!

Shannon Youell
CBWC CP Co-ordinator/Director



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