Yesterday, a good friend of mine contacted me and asked for counsel. He is a Pastor in America near New York City. His church plant is a few years old and over the last few months, things have begun to decentralize and he senses that the Lord is leading his congregation to transition into many small churches. Well, he reached out to me for wisdom on the topic. He asked me this: "If feel that our church is on the verge of becoming churchES. Would you mind sending me some hurdles, setbacks and cautions of doing church like that?"
So, I did. Just some raw thoughts as they came to me. Then, I thought...."maybe someone else would benefit from this as well." So, here it is....
1. It is dangerous to transition to this as another church growth model or approach because you are tired of the old one. Jesus and his glory spreading further and faster must be your goal! Nothing else will do. You should not transfer an old wine into a new wineskin. Go for a new everything.
2. Many Westerners will not find simple church flashy or fancy enough. They know there are better shows out there that do not require them having to be real and close up with people. So they will call you cheesy and go to a real church.
3. You can quickly become critical of “elephant” churches when you land on the beauty of a simple discipling church model. We must move into this new direction with deep humility and honor for the church of all sizes and styles….holding fast to what God has led YOU to do.
4. Danger in lack of accountability. If you do not set clear vision and strongly disciple key leaders in that vision, many small churches can go many different directions fast and you will not be able to reel it back in to something biblical. There MUST be agreement on who we are and what we will do to protect people and the authority of scripture.
5. Oops, we never multiplied! This is the biggest risk. If you do not START with multiplication in your plan, it will not fit in later. Churches should multiple 1-2 or more times a year. No less.
6. Beware of a Christian Majority. I know this will sound wild, but try to start every church with more non believers than you have believers. 2-3 followers can gather 3-6 of their friends far from God and start a D-group that leads to a church. Do NOT allow a church to exits that does not have non-disciples in it.
7. Finally, make sure that ALL churches are living ALL THREE LOVES and doing so TOGETHER! Loving God together in radical worship and hearing from God together. Loving each other in deep transparent relationships. And loving the lost—reaching out together to those far from God.
Much love as you make disciples who make disciples and plant churches that plant churches.