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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