As the world we live in becomes increasingly post-Christian, this will ultimately shape the way we plant churches. Now there is no “one way” to plant a church when considering missional communities. But as people who have planted using missional communities, and having coached hundreds of church planters using this unique vehicle, we would like to share a few of the things we have learned along the way.
You will obviously need to contextualize this information to your city, your culture, your team, and your gifts and calling. The temptation for church planters is to look for a “pure model” and rigidly stick to that formula (which can have disastrous results). Well there’s no such thing as a “pure” way of planting a church. You will need to contextualize and use Jesus’ principles for discipleship and mission where you live. Undoubtedly, that will look different for each plant.
But we think the following can be a helpful place to start.
DNA of Multiplication
The key to success for any church hoping to use missional communities is building the DNA of multiplication into the church. We want to see multiplication on every level: multiplying disciples, vehicles for discipleship and mission, campuses, and even churches.
That being said, creating a DNA of multiplication that works and is sustainable is one of the most difficult things you can do. It is always easier to grow by addition rather than by multiplication. But in choosing addition, you ultimately limit your rate of growth. Multiplication is what we’re after, and while it’s a difficult thing to learn with missional communities on the front end when planting a church, it’s worth the fight when you hit a Kingdom “tipping point.”
The first year of church planting is usually the most important, as you are setting the cultural DNA of your community and you’re dealing with wet cement and things will soon solidify. If your cultural DNA cements and doesn’t have the element of multiplication in it from day one, it’s a much harder task to change what has solidified. Particularly in a church plant with little history.
What does this mean practically?
Start with the thing you want to multiply (one missional community) instead of starting something different (the “church service”) and trying to start missional communities later. Gather and recruit your core team to this, knowing that the worship service will come. But before you can get there, you need to get the DNA right from the outset.
If you can multiply missional communities, the worship service will be easy. Chances are you already know that vehicle really well. Furthermore, the worship service will now feel like the overflow of community life instead of the replacement for it.