Rooting Church Planting In the Story of God (with Trevor Hutton)

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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.


  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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’.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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
  1. Can you recommend any further resources?