Church Planting 1

In this paper I will look very briefly at the main types of churches that seem to be successfully church planting in our day, and then consider equally briefly some of the church planting models that are popular today. I will then look at a number of church planting experiences from the recent past and look at two areas that are ongoing church planting situations. I will ask a number of questions about church and church planting, some of which I cannot make any attempt to answer within this paper. Indeed, I will ask why we church plant at all, and what our motives are in church planting.

All the people that I interviewed in relation to this project raised issues and questions with me as part of a general reflection when I spoke to them, and I will consider these before trying to see a way forward for church planting as it relates specifically to Neilston and to Queen’s Park Baptist Church, but also to the wider church.

My conclusions will take the form of reflections on church and church planting, and may seem to be too radical at first reading, but the declining church all around us is a radical problem. Radical problems need radical solutions because radical problems are radical opportunities – if we have ears to hear and eyes to see. Let me begin by describing briefly some types of growing churches and models of church planting that are employed.

TYPES AND MODELS

The models of church planting and the church types that I reference here are drawn from Stuart Murray, Church Planting, (Carlisle, Paternoster Press, 1998). However, these models are extensively quoted in other books and though there is some variance in the names and descriptions of models, the basic models remain the same.

Growing churches are a rarity, at least in this country; and in some ways it is easier to point to types of churches that are growing, rather than denominations. Some growing church types are:

SEEKER CHURCHES

Based on the Willowcreek Community Church in Chicago, with very high quality presentation and communication of gospel content. The potential downside is that such churches can be seen as being entertainment driven.

NETWORK CHURCHES

Such as ethnic churches. Their downside is that they can be seen as being divisive because ‘the whole body does not meet together’.

YOUTH CHURCHES

Planted by organisations such as NGM (New Generation Ministries). These churches can be seen as also being divisive since they are age-specific projects and may not have a strong connection with another established (and more traditional) churches.

CELL CHURCHES

Popular model in Korea and China (and elsewhere). Not the same as churches that merely have home groups or cell groups where membership of the small group is secondary to membership of the main church. Cell churches are not house churches, which may tend to be individualistic and isolated.

I turn now from types of churches that are growing to the different models of church planting. There are many models of church planting that have been well documented in various books, but the main models are summarised here:

MOTHER/DAUGHTER MODEL

This is where a local church plants another fellowship which has a degree of autonomy but remains vitally linked to the mother church which supervises and supports the plant.

COLONISATION

Similar to Mother/Daughter model, but the new church is not dependent on the planting church and will probably not be geographically close to it. Such plants are often in a different type of community from the planting church and may also be a considerable distance from it.

PLANTING TEAMS

Teams are for evangelistic initiatives and become church planting teams not normally sent from other churches, but rather by para-church organisations which are usually evangelism or mission driven, and whose members are commonly drawn from a number of churches from which they also receive support.

SATELLITE PLANTING

This involves a local church planting out groups of members who operate in a semi-autonomous way, but there is no expectation that full autonomy will be achieved and the numbers involved can be quite small.

ADOPTION PLANTING

This is where a growing church adopts another struggling church, resources it and enables it to rebuild and grow, but usually without control from the parent church.

Growing churches and successful church planting can attract a lot of attention and may be copied as if the methodology was the important thing, rather than the life of a church or potential church plant. Before we look at number of the critical issues surrounding church planting, we will consider a number of specific church planting situations, beginning with Erskine Baptist Church.