Over the past week or so I’ve had the chance to sit down with two different groups of people who are very interested in making a go at starting something new. For one reason or another God has laid it on their heart to lead a charge in starting a new worshipping community. But what would cause someone to go out on a limb and start something new? Why do something that’s so hard? Why not just keep things going the way they are?
Some live by the if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it mentality. But starters don’t live like this. Starters are people who just can’t stand things getting stagnant. Starters tend to see potential in the midst of a problem. Starters are the kinds of people who challenge the status quo. Starters are always looking for a fresh way to approach an existing problem.
So if this is what motivates a starter, then how do these principles apply to new church starters like the friends I’ve made this past week? Well I’m glad you asked! Keep reading and hopefully it all starts to make sense.
The first group I had the chance to meet are just dissatisfied with the status quo. They love Jesus. They love his people. They even love the church! The problem is sometimes the church gets so stuck on old things that anything new will cause it to break. Jesus even teaches about this. He says you don’t put new wine in old wineskins.
You see in Jesus’ day they kept their wine in these leather like sacks. And as these wineskins aged they would become more brittle. Then when new wine was put in them, the skin would crack and break and the wine would be lost. So the idea was for new wine you should always grab a new wineskin. Too often in our churches we try to force something new to fit into an old wineskin. We take a church of predominately retired members and ask them to start a children’s ministry. Or we force a new worship style on a group of people who really aren’t gifted in leading that style of worship. This is what my first group of friends realized. They were the new wine and their existing church was…well the old wineskin (no disrespect intended here just stick with me). To do the new that they felt God calling them to do it required them to find a new skin, or in their case make it from scratch. Let’s be honest if these guys would try to do the new thing they’re proposing in the church they currently attend, things would get very ugly very quickly and someone might just break!
The second group with whom I was able to meet has a different situation. They are at what is without question the end of the lifecycle of their church. They have served faithfully and dutifully for years. They’ve tried new things and embraced the changes in their community. They have worked tirelessly but the community has grown increasingly vacant. Businesses are closing and houses are occupied for shorter durations of time. Closing the building and starting from the beginning in a different location is the only way for them at this point. And what makes this new start even more exciting is that it will require an investment not just from the church seeking to leave a legacy but from surrounding sister congregations who will be asked to partner for a duration of time to get this new thing off the ground.
So you see whether you’re compelled by a fire in your belly to reach people not yet reached with a gospel that’s never changing or you’re simply responding to a shift in culture one truth remains.
Starting new is the fastest and most effective way to grow.
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One last illustration before we put a bow on this one. We all know how generations work and the way the last name passes down the line through the men in the family. Please no sexist remarks! I didn’t create the system but it works. Ok so in my family of origin there are 3 boys and 2 girls. I’m the oldest of the five. And all of us are married. Now since the last name will pass down the line through the men, I’ll sideline my sisters for a minute (still love you ladies!). Now between my brothers and I only one of us has boys. Yep that’s me! I’ll spare you the whole I’m more manly because I had boys bit. But look right there it is. Without the birth of children who can carry on the name and legacy of the family, the lineage dies. So without my sons there is a chance that our branch of the family tree will cease.
Same thing happens in the church. When we as churches fail to have children we slow down and eventually will die. When we age and die without children (new churches started through us) then the legacy of the church dies much like my last name would have ended had I not had boys. Ok all joking aside church planting is hard work. It’s challenging in so many ways but man if you embark on this task you won’t regret it! God will grow his kingdom. He’ll grow the new church. He’ll grow the church that steps out in faith to start the new church. And he’ll grow you as you take on this task!
So why start new? There’s no better way to do it!