Abdicating Responsibility?

I have been drawn to church planting for number of years, and especially within the last 18 months or so. Laura and I have gone into our marriage with church planting as a major goal. Church planting is attractive to me because I would be able to build it without the “baggage” or memory of the stereotypical protest, “But we’ve never done it that way before.”

On that note, in a recent post, Dr. Mohler has said:

Some young pastors see church planting as a way of avoiding the challenge of dealing with the people and pathologies of older congregations. This is an abdication of responsibility.

I honestly have not considered the issue that way before. I have looked at the benefits of church planting, with failure as the only drawback. However, I think I must be careful to look at my motives (not to mention my calling) in seeking the Lord’s will for ministry.

UPDATE:

Timmy Brister has written an interesting post related to this topic, and specifically the quote above.

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About Danny Slavich

I am a Christian husband, father, pastor, and poet. I lead Pembroke Road Baptist Church a multi-cultural, multi-generational church in urban South Florida.
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4 Responses to Abdicating Responsibility?

  1. Ben says:

    Hm … I always thought the point behind church planting was to minister to people who are not currently in church? I know it doesn’t always work out that way, but shouldn’t that at least be the goal? I mean, I know that the church is increasingly turning into a business/consumer relationship, where “church plant” = “startup”, but I figured that was a bad thing.

    Or maybe we need a new word for “church planting”. I know people do “church plants” here in the west, but I always used to think of it as a re-interpretation of the missions concept. Maybe they are really two different concepts?

  2. Dad says:

    The idea of church planting as a way of avoiding the “we haven’t done it like that” argument is an interesting angle. I’d never given that much thought and it is a legitimate concern.

    BUT…

    don’t forget that you have said you like the idea of “doing church differently.” To do that in an existing congregation can feel very intrusive or even insulting to those who are entrenched in their traditions.

    A clean slate will certainly afford opportunities for innovation without the feather-ruffling that would certainly come from re-inventing an existing congregation’s format. The reality of church plants (as I have seen with our “new” church) is that you end up with a mix.

    There will (hopefully) be new converts, but there will also be those who have grown away from attending church elsewhere. Maybe they had a bad experience (either their fault or somebody else’s) that has kept them away from church. A newly planted church community can offer them a fresh start.

    Ben’s comment about wanting to reach the un-churched is a great goal; but you inevitably will have those who shift allegiances from one congregation to another. There are a couple of scenarios that can bring about those shifts.

    Some are simply “fidgety” types who are always on the move. Nothing is really going to satisfy them because they want church to “be something” that “works for them.” When their church experience is the motivation, they will probably last as long as the opening of the next new church in town.

    Others are those who (for various reasons) have grown stale in their current environment and are looking for a new opportunity to rekindle their relationship with the Lord. Though this is not true “kingdom growth” (in terms of new believers; people getting saved) it can stimulate individuals to grow deeper with the Lord.

    With that said, it seems like that can be a very valuable part of a newly formed ministry. How many disillusioned people are simply going through the motions where they are, because there seems to be no other place for them to go. That feels a lot like what we experienced a couple of years ago…and our spiritual life has been nurtured because of that change. Not as new believers, but as freshly-equipped believers.

    This isn’t to say that a church plant is the only right way to do things. It is, however, a great opportunity to reach many. Some believers would be remain in a stagnating environment. Others may be away from needed fellowship. Still others are hopelessly without Christ.

    It’s not fair to say that either way (church plant or transition of leadership) is the right way or the wrong way. Both will reach different groups. Check your motivations, God will help you see what you are called to do.

  3. dslavich says:

    Ben,

    I think you’re right: have to define the terms. I think that “church planting” is basically “starting a church (=local autonomous congregation) that did not exist previously.”

    A great benefit to planting a church is reaching lost an unchurched people. But I don’t think that is all that planting a church necessarily accomplishes.

    Dad,

    Thanks for your insight. I have been appreciating your thoughtful and intelligent comments on my blog. I think you’re right, in that attracting church “transfers” might be, in some cases, a good thing. I can think of a number of people who have benefited from such a scenario (and not just you guys). I think that any church worth its salt will attract believers and non-believers.

  4. mom says:

    I enjoy reading your blog.
    As you get older, it’s exciting to share in your life’s journey.
    When I miss you & Laura, this makes me feel more connected.
    Keep pondering & praying.
    love,
    Mom

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