Andrew Jones series

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I recently began a series responding to Andrew Jones’ article, Nine Reasons NOT to plant churches. Andrew contacted me and I felt our exchange might be of interest to you.

Andrew: thanks Dave. good points.

“but I also am not sure what an “itinerant social entrepreneur” is . . ”

yeah I am still working that one out also but some of the countries i visit have a problem with the term “Christian missionary” so I am trying something else on for size.

btw, I am not sure what patellar is but I am sure this post really is as patellar as you say it is.

peace.

Dave: My friend Andrew,

I was hoping to make contact with you, because I wanted to be able to clearly share my heart with you. In order to do so, please allow me to share with you my Journal entry from this morning:

Apparently Jon Reid knows the author of an article I have chosen to critique in a series of blog posts. Jon said he was going to send this man a link so he could know and could respond to what I said. John said, “Ah, my two friends battling it out.” I immediately felt insecure and uncomfortable. 1st, I don’t want to “battle it out” with anyone. 2nd, I am using his article to address some widely held beliefs about the church and church planting that I feel need to be thought through rather than automatically accepted as truth. So this is not directed to him, but to this “thought” out there and those who might be accepting it before learning of another perspective. 3rd, I don’t want there to be someone out there who does not like me especially since so many find it difficult to like someone we are in disagreement with. 4th, I do not want to be drawn into an all-too-familiar debate, banter, and contemptuous way of exchanging ideas that is so common among believers today. 5th, I am painfully aware that my pride and arrogance make me susceptible to being one who exchanges ideas sarcastically with an air of contempt, and that man is one I want to move away from rather than towards.

With all due respect and love,

Dave

ps. Today I hope to post a second response but if doing so in any way bothers you I will be more than happy to cease.

Andrew: thanks Dave. You sound like a wonderful guy and I appreciate your politeness. I will have a read of your second post when i get a chance.

Thanks for your input. Hopefully it will give me more balance.

Dave: Thanks my friend and I give you permission to tell me if I ever come across any way but polite. Everyone has blind spots and it’s the blind spots that often sabotage our relationships. I wouldn’t want anything to sabotage our relationship no matter how embryonic it currently is. Peace.

Journal entry the next morning:

I was very surprised that I received a very friendly note from the author I referred to in my previous entry. I immediately wrote back sharing with him the exact words of my journal entry which I felt expressed my heart which I greatly wanted him to see. He wrote back that he “appreciated my politeness”. I wrote back giving him permission to point out to me any time he recognizes anything but politeness in me since polite is one thing I want to be known for.

Perhaps in the future, when and if I have a need to respond to something, I will choose to omit the person’s name, endeavor to be polite, and therefore not feed the unkind, arrogant banter that all too often infects and overshadows the exchange of thoughts and differences that will always be found among brothers. Or, better yet, feel no need to respond at all.

I have decided to end my series on Andrew’s article and quit while I’m ahead.

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Andrew Jones recently wrote an article entitled: “9 reasons Not to plant a church in 2012.” Now there’s a title that will get your attention. My thoughts are in no way intended to be disrespectful or dishonoring to Andrew (I always feel a need to say this because it’s really common these days for bloggers and writers to speak contemptuously towards those they disagree with…and I just hate those stupid idiots!) but to simply share what I agree with and what not, in his very thought provoking article. What I will do is quote Andrew and then respond. Here’s part two from his introduction which leads up to his “9 reasons”.

Andrew: The typical church planting model, in which the solo-church planter starts a gathering that he/she invites potential members to join and commit to lacks satisfying precedent in the Scriptures where Jesus sent out people in teams (2, 12, 70) to find people of peace (them, not us) to allow Kingdom ministry in their venue (not the planter’s venue).

Dave: I’m not sure this is a fair comparison. First of all the 2, 12, and 70 were not trying to establish churches (which, at this point, they would have had no concept of) they were evangelizing Jewish people for a revival and fulfillment of Judaism. Granted, these “converts” probably made up much of the early church but at this point they were not “church plants”. Second, just because one finds no precedent in the NT for a certain model or practice does not automatically mean we must toss it out or that said model is worthless. Jesus told the 12 when they went out to wear sandals, so there is no precedent for wearing shoes.

Our hermeneutics classes taught us that when interpreting a passage of scripture one must determine if the example, or teaching is cultural or transcultural. All of the NT is cultural, i.e. it happened like it says it happened in that time and culture, and within the NT much (if not most) is transcultural. The challenge is to recognize the difference which is impossible to get everyone to agree on.

I guess what i’m really responding to is the common cry of pastors and church planters, “We’ve got to return to the book of Acts, we’ve got to be like the NT church.” Which NT church do you want to return to, Philippi, Corinth? Were the gospels and the book of Acts (at least when it comes to church life, evangelism, missions, church-planting) intended to be a blueprint followed exactly? I’m not sure.

Having said all that, I do believe if we could objectively study the NT looking for principles to follow, identify those things which are transcultural and hang loose with those that are not, our churches and our philosophy of church planting would be in much better shape.

Andrew: Add to that the lack of biblical support for a paid professional pastor and the awkward extension of the Temple tithing system into the present day and the whole package seems a little suspect or at least in need of some recalibrating with the New Testament.

Dave: Actually I do think there is biblical support for a paid pastor, whether that makes them “professional” or not is debatable, but I’ve got to get ready for another coaching call so I don’t have the time for proof-texing my position on pastors being paid. I do like Andrews suggestion that there might be a, “…need of some recalibrating with the New Testament.” We must never underestimate our ability to drift from the original intention of the church. It’s good to regularly evaluate the need to calibrate. Part 3 should be out on Friday.

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Andrew jones is an “itinerant social entrepreneur” who recently wrote an article entitled: “9 reasons Not to plant a church in 2012.” Now there’s a title that will get your attention. I don’t know Andrew, but I also am not sure what an “itinerant social entrepreneur” is either and you might be struggling with what Patellar Reflex is…look it up. Anyways…my thoughts are in no way intended to be disrespectful or dishonoring to Andrew (I always feel a need to say this because it’s really common these days for bloggers and writers to speak contemptuously towards those they disagree with…and I just hate those stupid idiots!) but to simply share what I agree with and what not, in his very thought provoking article. What I will do is quote Andrew and then respond. Here’s part one from his introduction which leads up to his “9 reasons”.

Andrew: “…while some young, enthusiastic people are out there planting churches like its 1997, others are focusing on launching more sustainable, more holistic, more measurably transformational Kingdom solutions.”

Dave: The implication here is that those out there planting churches like it’s 1997 are not focusing on “…launching more sustainable, more holistic, more measurably transformational Kingdom solutions.” I talk to a lot of church planters and I can’t think of one that does not want to do what the “others” whom Andrew refers to want to do. I do like Andrew’s choice of the word “sustainable” even though defining that word can be subjective. I do like the word “measurable” because pastors are oftentimes too unclear as to what they are trying to produce and therefore that vagueness makes it difficult to measure whether or not you are hitting their target. “holistic” is a word used a lot these days and in relation to church planting, or church-life in general, I’m really not sure what the heck it means.

Andrew: “One of the biggest trends in church planting that I observed in my recent 30+ country trek is the SHIFT AWAY FROM planting churches towards NOT planting a church at all but focusing on a wider range of transforming Kingdom activities.”

Dave: After the above mentioned statement Andrew goes on to give four examples, three of which are from overseas church planters, to support his point. There are many reasons why the Western/Americanized way of doing church does not work well in many other countries (which is not to imply it is working well here…but I digress) and proponents of the missional-house-church movement (which I might add, I do consider a legitimate model) often times draw attention to the success of house churches in other countries but this is often a matter of apples and oranges.

Andrew: “…some of the most innovative new Christian communities I came across did not launch or host Sunday worship services as part of their ministry portfolio.”

Dave: I’m fine with that strategy.

Andrew: “There has been some disillusionment with the church planting movement, even after it has purged itself of its 80’s church growth pragmatism.”

Dave: Really? I guess I missed that purging.

I’m going to stop for now because I don’t like to go over 500 words and I’ve got a church planter to call who definitely wants to purge but it has nothing to do with the Church Growth Movement. Be watching for pt. 2

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