Sunday, June 04, 2006

Kinetic Church Planting

(This is an article I wrote for On Mission magazine that has not been published yet. I hope they won't mind if I post it here but I feel it is relevant for our network.)

And on that day a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles... therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word. (Acts 8:1b,4)

We call it the diaspora, or the scattering. At a critical point in the history of the early church, God saw to it that his people were dispersed throughout the known world to share the gospel. He is still doing that today, and we can respond and join Him in his work, if we can see how He is scattering us – and why! Here are a few thoughts on the 21st century diaspora, or what I call kinetic church planting.
An Apostolic Age. Notice that it was not the leaders of the early church who were dispersed; it was everybody else! Though we use the word apostle to signify one who saw Christ and bore witness to who he was, in its simplest form the word apostle just means messenger. We live in an apostolic age, where the church is not a temple or building in a fixed location but instead is the people of God moving across the globe to share the good news of Jesus Christ. We need to embrace this biblical model and understand that the fact that the average American moves every 3 ½ years is not just a societal trend, but is a movement of God to get His word out to those who need to hear.
College Students on a Mission. Every year, millions of high school students graduate from high school and go off to college. One way or another, through parents, scholarships, loans or jobs at Starbucks; students manage to move to a different town, get a roof over their heads, and become part of the fabric of a new community. As we look at mobilizing people to plant new churches, is there any group as suited for the task as college students? Just as God saw fit to disperse the early church throughout the world through persecution, He has seen fit to disperse gen-Y believers throughout the world into hundreds of colleges and hundreds of college towns.
Yet very few Christian students pick where they go to college based on God’s calling on their life for church planting. But they could! What would happen if a student in Georgia decided to get his engineering degree at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada instead of going to Georgia Tech? And what if he did so because God moved his heart for the lostness of the capitol of Canada? And what if he started a bible study that became a church? And what if, in his junior year, the church called a pastor from another place, a godly man with a godly family, but new to Eastern Canada? I can see the look on that young pastor’s face when that college student shook his hand and said, “I’m glad you’re here. How can I help you for the next two years?” In our denomination, only 50% of new churches make it past the first two years. How many more would be successfully launched with a college student already in the community, meeting people, talking with people, reaching people, discipling people – even before the pastor arrives?
Moving For a Job, and a Calling. As people move from an area because of jobs or family decisions, they often struggle with finding a new church in a new town. They have to learn a whole new system, new people and new strategies. The church they leave behind feels disappointed, since that individual or family is no longer part of the ministry or family there at that local church. The family has to start over looking at churches and evaluating doctrine, programs and personalities to find a new church. Thinking kinetically, we can ask them to consider being a seed family for a new church plant wherever they move. In this way, geographic transition can work for the expansion of the kingdom rather than against it. The people moving can remain part of the “church family,” work in a familiar model, and continue to be developed as leaders as they undertake a bold new effort in a new place. They will already be employed (theoretically, with the new job that caused the move), and able to contribute time, money and energy to the new church. This will make it easier to plant new churches. As any church planter will tell you, getting that first seed core group family is a big step!
A New Way of Thinking. Since most of us have always thought of people moving as a bad thing, this move of God requires new thinking. Moving can be a good thing for the kingdom if we embrace the idea of “kinetic church planting.” Kinetic just means of, relating to, or produced by motion. As in the sport of judo, where the energy of the attacker’s forward move is used to defeat him, so we can take advantage of a transient “forward moving” generation to scatter the gospel throughout the earth!
The Great Commission, as translated by many biblical scholars, more accurately reads: “Therefore, as you go, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Kinetic church planting does not require stability. It requires motion! We can plant churches with willing people, as they go.


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