Monday, June 25, 2007

Church Planter vs Missionary

At the Exponential Conference in Orlando in April, I heard something repeated several times by different conference speakers. They said to the American church planters in the audience, "we need to think more like missionaries." I remember thinking "why, missionaries are facing the same problems as the American church planters."

With both American church planters and missionaries, my observation has been that anything done out of tradition is not likely to reach the unchurched. Tradition is something established so that people can continue a meaningful experience. That's not necessarily a bad thing. But we have to remember that the unchurched don't attach value to things that they didn't actually experience themselves. One of the problems in the missions world has been repeating the host country's ineffective church traditions or worse starting a new churches that look more like the church or group that was so meaningful in our own spiritual lives.

When they say that church planters should think like missionaries, I think that they want us to be missional, in our approach here at home. Unfortunately, many missionaries are no more missional than their American church planter counterparts. I believe when it comes to church planting that 'it' (being missional) is not taught, it is caught. That's why so many of the most effective churches hire from within rather than from the seminary placement office.

At Catalyst France part of our vision is to create a network of churches to train young French believers to plant churches all over the country. Get the most effective churches together to find people who already get it, give them on the job training, support them, send them out. Then these new churches repeat the process.

Would you join us in this process?


Alex said...

I couldn't agree more! The bottom line for me is - what are we doing, or what are others doing that is non-traditional, out of the box, new and fresh, that is reaching the unchurched... I spend my days looking for new ideas, watching other ministries - maybe I need to look elsewhere?

What do you think?

Ken Witcher said...

I think you're on the right track. We must find new ways to reach new people.

I think that we always "create" out of some box. As we seek out and gain new experiences we create "new boxes" (thus the name of this blog) or fill our old one with new tools. I look at conferences, blog reading, networking, and visiting churches as filling my toolbox.