I get excited knowing that church planting is one of the milestones of our Vision 2025 as a denomination. (Milestone 4: share the gospel, live it missionally, and plant new churches in our neighborhoods as we discover how to connect with our local and global ministry contexts.) It is wonderful to know that as we work together we can multiply and help grow Heaven.
But as we plan for church multiplication and the spread of the gospel, are we aware of our expectations for how new churches may look? Do we want them to look like clones of our established congregations, or like a new expression of the faith we hold dear?
When I think about my grandchildren, I think about my hopes for church planting in my region:
Precocious. Cheeky. Cute. In that order are the descriptions of my grandkids. I love their personalities and although they all carry the family DNA, they are very different. We are speculating about the personality and name that our next grandchild will carry.
I am reminded about that when I think of church planting. It's easy to settle into what we know in our present churches and think it is enough. What is really in front of us is the opportunity to imagine what the next generation of church or missional expressions will look like. Will they look like us or will they look completely different? What is important is that they will indeed carry the same message of Jesus and his love and grace to the communities they serve. But how they do that might be a little different from how we do it at our established church.
Even if they aren't exactly like us, they will still need our care and support and prayer. They will need willing hands and open hearts.
When we first became empty nesters it was great, until we heard news of a new generation happening. We were willing to add a playpen/crib to our bedroom and a gate at the top of the stairs and anything it took to welcome and add to the family. It changed our focus and the way we looked at our family. My prayer is that each church in Eastern Canada and in the entire CRCNA will look at the possibilities of dreaming and imagining what it could look like to invest in a church plant in their area.
My second prayer is that it will be more than dreaming.
Below is a survey that was used in Classis Chatham (Eastern Canada) to imagine what it could look like for a church to begin to expand, (i.e. multi-site, missional community, or sponsor a new church plant) This is an exercise that any church could do together to see how close they are to moving in a crib.
Dreaming Meeting for the New CRC Church Plant in ________________!
Your congregation and town/city has been chosen for the newest CRC church plant in your Classis. You’ve been asked to help bring this dream to life.
- Why could your town/city use another church?
- What kind of church could your town/city use?
- What kind of people would be attracted to this church?
- What kind of pastor would lead this church well?
- What would be a good name for this church? A good slogan?
- What are some ways your church could be a parent church to this new church?
- Where would be an ideal location for this church?
- How would being a part of this church change someone’s life?
- What impact would this church have on its neighbourhood, or the town/city as a whole?