Recently this post (from United in Copenhagen), on churchplanting strategies and leadership, appeared on the blog for the leadership and church growth conference hosted by United . Some good stuff there. Some that culturally just wrooms past me...
And so to the churchplanting and leadership post...
Without any undue disrespect for my fellows in the faith, and without saing that their choice of methodology for "doing church" is necessarily one to disband completely, I want to leave this paraphrase here in order to, let´s say, highlight an other way of building "from scratch". One that is equally rooted in the gospel story i think!
Here we go! (and remember: This is a paraphrase, so read the original post first!)
Starting a new fellowship often means: Big vision, lots of enthusiasm and low budget. There are so many things you need to invest in: Paying hostel rooms for homeless people, buying clothes and food for them and paying staff to ride around in cars dispersing the stuff three days a week. You might even need to rent some facilities where we can store up some of the stuff, and eventually hold meetings in.
We have learnt that caring for the needy (among ourselves and in the city) is high priority!
Here are some practical tips on how to start building up a thriving ministry for the poor in your churchplant from day one.
- Divide the total amount of monthly income that you have within the core group, and divide it in to slices.(after rent, food and other running costs are accounted for.) Of the "cake" that is left give: 50% directly to the needy (including renting storage facilities), 35% to other mission-initiatives (local and global), 15% to staff/personell costs and 10% for miscellanious costs or, possibly, savings.
- Have a board of advisers to help you set and decide what in any given situation should be the minimum % given directly to the poor and to missional work. (50% is just my advice here. The church of the first two centuries roughly spent some 70-90% of their income directly on the poor!)
- If you pay staff: Pay well, but never fall into the trap of clericalism that so seriously have distorted the ministry of the church in christendom. (Meaning: Never, unless necessary, have full-time staff. Have people work bi-vocationally so that you can invest your money straight in to the poor and missions. Your way of spending money and how you disperse the "ministry" into everybodys hands and feet has to mirrior a holistic view of how the church can express the "good news".)
- Who should you put on salary first? A more open question than many may think it is at first. If you put someone on salary, my suggestion is that it does not necessarily have to be a "senior pastor" or the leader of the team. It could just as well be the peeps working the closest to the poor, or the ones with the largest home (= can fit your gatherings and supply food). It could be a youth worker or someone setting time apart visiting the elderly in your neighbourhood. Talk it through, mine the gospels for guidance, pray and be creative!
- Never hire people fulltime unless your missions work or your ministry among the needy eventually requires it! We all "do the stuff". Paying people to comit to a ministry can release creativity and time to do great things, but can just as easily turn people into "experts" thus detering others from regarding themselves as being in "full-time ministry"... which we actually are, everybody, all the time.
- Take care of the needy! I say it again ´cos it does you no harm to hear it again: Take care of the needy! And take care of those who work the hardest for the kingdom among you, whoever they are and during whatever season in your life as a community it may be! Treat them, and each other, as if they are precious family too you - which they are! It´s hard to succeed in living the life of discipleship without a family/deep relations, so make sure that you care for each other!
Well, this is where the paraphrase ends!
In no way do I suggest that this is "the way" of doing it (It is, at best, a rough draft!). I´m not claiming that this is "the truth" on this particular bit of laying foundations for a new church but, as I wrote earlier, it is equally rooted in the gospel story! I agree that there are many ways of "doing church" that are valid given the context they are in, but at the same time we must be open for critique!
My position for this particular criticism (in the shape of paraphrase) is not one of clerical power or one based on a theological or ecclesiological splitting of hairs, but rather a humble and slightly uncertain one from the margins. No one needs to listen to me! I am not part of a rapidly growing or "successful" church, rather one struggling in many ways to find out what it actually means to be followers of Jesus together. I have experienced the struggle of being a church leader in a "new church", relating on a personal level to people we may describe as needy and have had some real battles in trying to grapple how I, my family and our church community can connect and serve everyone in our surrounding commuity, especially the poor and needy. I have done this without carrying a salary (bi-vocationally), and have found this a great experience of growing towards a holistic view of "ministry" and church leadership. So it is possible...
I have to acknowledge, of course, that much of the above probably is true for anyone doing church, but the text that I chose to criticize here, in my humble opinion, lacks some essentials in expressing that reality. A reality any church, anywhere is called to represent - The kingdom of God where the poor, the needy and the socially disadvantaged are due for great attention, financially as well as any other way.
What are your thoughts on this?