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What Does It Mean to Root Church Planting In God’s Story?
- Trevor has for years been involved in church planting – in the early days he encountered a lot of ‘church growth theory’.
- But God has a big story in creation – and church planting is about getting caught up in this big story.
- The Bible doesn’t actually say plant churches – but that is our micro-story that makes a contribution to God’s much bigger story in the World.
- The big story shapes all of the little stories, and the little stories are part and parcel of the big story.
- Often church planters can only see their own little story and not the bigger story.
- Everything that we are trying to do is all about God and what he is doing in his creation – the kingdom of God (God’s eschatological kingdom).
- The Great Commission tells us to share God’s good news story with the nations of the world. In respond to this communities are formed and lives are changed.
- Church planting is one missional response to sharing the story of God – as people hear that story and come to faith.
- We plant the the gospel, and out of the seed of the gospel, communities are formed.
- Jurgen Moltmann speaks into this a lot. He talks about a move from focussing primarily on church to focussing on what God is doing in creation.
- God has created a beautiful world.
- He also gives people creativity to partner with God as co-creators. This is part of what it is to be in God’s image.
- We should be about creativity – not for his own sake but as part of what it is to reflect God.
- God makes his home (oikos) with us.
- Creation is like God’s home/house and he has welcomed us to dwell in him and him in us, and to share the resources that he has provided.
- Part of what we are about is setting up God’s home in his world – welcoming everybody to the table and having a place for everybody.
- We are made for relationship with God and relationships with each other.
- We can also relate to the wider creation.
- We are called to be stewards and friends to the world God made.
- God has called us friends – and friendship is a gift that we can give to others.
Identifying With Suffering
- God identifies with those who suffer, who are poor and who are destitute.
- God comes alongside us and gives us hope for a better future.
- God’s big story is about bringing hope to the world.
- We are hope givers.
Diversity In Unity
- God is about diversity, but also harmony and unity.
- We work with lots of different cultures and groups, and something is wrong when all churches look the same.
- We embrace diversity but we need to find unity within it – we are not at all talking about division.
- God breathed life into the first humans.
- We are about reverence for life, and against things that destroy.
- The seventh day of creation is the crowning moment of creation.
- In the first six days he is busy doing things, but now he basks in the glory of what he has made.
Where Does Church Planting Fit?
- We are about forming communities of creativity, hospitality, friendship, hope, diversity, life, sabbath.
- This raises church planting from strategy/growth to joining in God’s big story.
- Church planting is not about church planting, it’s about joining in God’s big story.
How did you get involved in church planting, and what changed your perspective?
- Trevor grew up as an atheist. When he was converted as a young man he wanted to share the story of God with others.
- He did some theological training then went into a church in Scotland that was looking to plant a new church.
- They wanted to pay someone to share God’s story with people. This sounded perfect! Trevor threw himself full into it.
- He began to start thinking about what he was actually trying to achieve.
- He realised he didn’t want to be about a denominational brand or just bums on seats but partnering wiht god – this transformed the church plant from discouragement to a vibrant community.
Can you give an example of how this understanding makes a church plant look different?
- In Trevor’s initial church plant he copied the forms of church he had grown up in. But he realised that this didn’t fit the culture he was planting into.
- The most recent plant is particularly aimed at Muslims. It has looked like building relationships and hospitality in that community and blessing their children by doing some teaching in a Muslim school.
- Finding a way to keep and evangelical core and yet engage across cultures. This looked like studying Islam and even attending a few services at Mosques to understand the culture. It also involved training by people who know more about the issues.
- One of the connection points in the school was through art.
How many communities have you been involved in creating? Are they different from each other?
- They are interconnected and share values, but they are all very different from each other.
- There is some sharing of resources/people.
- They have their own form, name and identity.
How do you identify and train the people you build these communities with?
- Trevor finds them, or sometimes God mysteriously brings them along.
- Sometimes it is as an answer to prayer.
- Beg and borrow people.
- A common trait of pioneers is that you can get other people to come with you.
- If you are starting something and you don’t have this gift, find somebody who does who can work with you.
- Don’t be afraid to make the ‘big ask’.
How do you draw older people into leadership?
- Trevor does have a particular heart for coaching the next generation.
- With older adults they are often ideal candidates to mentor/coach younger leaders.
- There is, of course, also the need for older adults to be actively involved in God’s mission.
- We are looking to see people deployed wherever they fit best.
Tell us a bit about how a typical community meets.
- They are all contextualised.
- In a Manchester suburb there is a cafe church meeting in Costa Coffee.
- In the UK, the directors are Christians. They offer support to people setting up Christian communities.
- Trevor brought together a couple of young leaders and a few people and they started asking what it would look like to plant something there.
- Acoustic music is natural in a coffee shop, so they did some Live events, open mic nights, etc.
- Cafe church – with a quiz around tables, interview, thought for day, a couple of Christian sings, a prayer and then an invitation to Conversations at Costa.
- Tuesday nights – conversations at Costa about God.
- Service time is Sunday afternoon.
- Call the Thought For the Day ‘Tuning Into Life’.
- You don’t need money to start communities, you just need vision, heart and gut.
When you start communities, how do you bring people along with you?
- The communities are interconnected relationally, and people come along through this to help out and build a core.
- The core then bring friends along.
- It’s usually word of mouth, or specific interest in a theme of the community.
- In each community there is a place to explore discipleship.
- The process of bringing people through is Contact, Nurture, Develop
Can you recommend any further resources?
- Forge England and Wales
- Email Trevor at firstname.lastname@example.org