Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pressing Questions for the Growing Minichurch

We're Almost A Megachurch!
The Line Band prepping for one our services in July
At The Line staff prayer we were told that 99 people showed up to our most recent Sunday service. As your reading you may be thinking, "I could have been the 100th person!" Yeah, you could have...and won a prize. From this I continually joke that we are a burgeoning megachurch. The lobby of the Greenhouse Theater where we meet was almost overcrowded and uncomfortable, almost like a high school house party. We ran out of the Intelligentsia hand-ground coffee we typically serve to the few dozen who come. Programs disappeared quickly and people had to share. People had to sit on the side of the theater and some only saw the back of our Aaron's (the lead pastor) head while he preached. Oh how far we are from being a megachurch, but these are the wonderful, grace-filled problems of our growing minichurch.

If I had to guess, I would say that most established churches are asking questions regularly, but there also comes a time when certain structures, like staff, finances, are in place that make each week a little more routine. My experience as a leader in a young church plant has me believing that while in this constant state of flux, many of the questions we ask are more pressing and could drastically effect the direction of the church.

Over the past month several pressing questions have arisen I'd like to share. This is the first of at least a three part series that will come out each Wednesday over the next three weeks. My hope is that they open up discussion and create a forum for the questions you may have regardless of what role you have with your church.

Crowd to Core or Core to Crowd?
I had the chance to visit with a pastor of a church of 3,000 people down in Florida about a month ago. The method of how they planted their church is a "Crowd to Core" method, one in which they promote heavily, hold an event at a key time of the year, draw an enormous crowd and develop a core from that. Almost everything we do as a church plant is the reverse of that. The church started with a crowd of seven. The preaching began in a living room to a crowd of 10-15. Gospel Communities (small groups on mission) were launched small and strategically by neighborhood. We made a weak attempt at promoting our launch service in The Congress Theater. Though we put an emphasis on our Sunday service, the majority of our energy is spent thinking and praying through our Gospel Communities and our Cords, which are the discipleship groups of our church. Our mentality and method is for the mission to move from Core to Crowd.

After explaining this to the pastor, he said point blank, "I have never seen that work." Speaking strictly from a Western context, I am sure that there are exceptions to what he claims (Soma Communities comes to mind). I am also very aware of the conversation regarding the Church Growth model and the Missional model. But generally the fundamental question is raised,

"How should we be planting churches?"

From this comes other questions:

"Methodologically is it better to plant on a 'Crowd to Core' model or a 'Core to Crowd'?"
"What are the advantages to each? What are the disadvantages?
"Do we depend more on method than on the Spirit, prayer, and discernment?"

Many Questions, One Certainty
Over the next several weeks you will be exposed to more questions we are asking. We do have many questions, but are certain of one thing: Jesus Christ is building his church in Chicago and throughout the world. Thus our questions are not rooted in fear or insecurity. We are not reaching out and grasping tightly to every body that walks through our doors. The Line exists to be a witness to what Jesus has done and continues to do. We strive to make sure that the questions we ask are confidently rooted in Him.

I pray every local body remembers that whether you have one question or one thousand questions.

By His Grace.

1 comment:

  1. I dig the core to crowd, but am intrigued by the other. For me, to instill in the core what you want to be true in the crowd seems like a good approach.