Monday, January 05, 2004

Church Planting and Denominations

Ed Stetzer, who is with the Southern Baptist Convention and a church planter, was interviewed in the Fall 2003 Cutting Edge, a Vineyard publication. The article is fantastic but one question asked of him is one that concerns me greatly.

Is there anything that denominations or church planting movements need to have on their radar if they want to be effective over the next ten years?

I would say that one of the challenges we are all goig to have to face is, if we truly take this missional challenge seriously, and our churches begin to increasingly diverge stylistically, how then will we relate one to another? What will be the basis of our fellowship? In the Southern Baptist context, most of our established churches look very similar -- but most of our new churches do not. What then brings us together? Vineyard may be rewriting that. I think what brings us together is certain shared beliefs. But then we will need to struggle with "OK, if we believe certain things, what then do we do about them to cooperate?" How does a Vineyard megachurch connect with a Vineyard house-church in the same town? What's a commonality? A denominational structure alone won't bind churches together. So I'd say a big challenge is how we will relate as we diversify our styles in this post-denominational age. I think part of the answer is going to be networking around common tasks and common convictions.

This is going to be an issue in our denomination. What makes us a denomination is our recent history (most aren't familiar with the beginning history), our style of doing church, and at least twenty years ago, what we were all against.

What will have to change is that we will have to network around common convictions (core values) and common tasks (missions, conferences). This will require a shift in thinking and procedure.

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