Thursday, February 17, 2011

10 Most Common Mistakes Made By New Church Starts

By Bill Easum and Jim Griffiths. Summation of very sound advice and experience. While it is focused on more normative understandings of church than in missional communities, I think there is a lot that can be applied to those looking to form MCs, whether coming out of an existing church or from exiles. Here are their top 10 with my reflections on them:

1. Neglecting the Great Commandment in pursuit of the Great Commission....putting numbers before love, putting ourselves before others, (and especially as I include the parable of the Samaritan as part of the Great Commandment passage, this means putting others who are different from us, and the places that are different from our places, first in who we plant with, and where we plant).

2. Failing to take Opposition Seriously. This is the spiritual warfare section; you don't have to buy the theology to confirm that when you seek to make a transformation, you will get resistance; people, including you as leader, love homeostasis; know the toil it will take on you, how you yourself will be your own worst obstacle and enemy, and so many beginnings I know of have been derailed or almost so because of family issues, health issues, money issues, stress will be high and trigger all your addictions or compulsions. Go in to it expecting a perfect storm. As I have written elsewhere though, if you wait for perfect, you will never begin; perfect is the enemy of good.

3. A love affair with one's fantasy statement blinds the planter to the mission field. Yes, all kinds of vision and mission statements and plans are good for one thing: they are the scaffolding that helps erect the building, but the plan isnt to erect scaffolding but a building; they are drafts only helpful primarily so the planter can better understand and incorporate the direction needed. Be flexible. Be ready for surprises. Be willing to change everything.

4. Premature Launch. An oldie but a goodie still. Part of the problem is connected with number three; we force things and timing in order to let the plan be fulfilled, and it kicks us into attractional mode rather than incarnational, circumventing relationship building. usually also signifies surrending to anxiety among your own group.

5. evangelism ceases after the launch. connecting with others doesn't stop once you have instituted something, and you can't expect that the people who you being to partner with will naturally go out and spread the news and help you partner with others; whether you are trying to get people to worship or to serve others with you, it is the same.

6. No plan for the other six days of the week. For the missional community, maybe this is reversed; no plan for sabbath. How can you embody a seven day faith with your own disciplines and service and together with others? There are a lot of ways to weave mission and/or church into a daily consciousness and contemplation and even action. I will follow up on this one later, but use your imagination; technology can help facilitate this.

7. Fear of talking about money until it is too late. constantly give people opportunities, nudges, reminders, callings to give. We are in a new realm of the spirit where people want to give, to deepen generosity, to join with others to give in ways to do more than they can alone; we can't hide it. also for missional communities, money is a key into understanding the culture we are operating in and against and trying to subvert with an and sharing resources and being engaged in redistribution as one of the three Rs, see specifically for traditional church planting, the authors focus on the need for the planter to raise half of their salary themselves.

8. Failure of the church to act its age and its size. Don't get on the treadmill of anxiously pushing to be more and have more and do more, so that you are unable as leaders to feel refreshed in spirit for your service. Don't let your success become your downfall. Act bigger to get bigger is an old maxim; it has to be balanced with going deeper yourself and as a small missional group so you can grow others.

9. Formalizing leadership too soon. Another way of trying to relieve uncertainty, stress and anxiety, and you will begin to forget to pay attention to the edges and the fringes of the ones you are connecting with which is where the best ideas and leaders will come from. It also puts the emphasis on institution over organic expressions, makes you reliant on bylaws for example rather than cultivating the DNA of the group or mission. A corollary: the project leaders at the beginning may not be the ones best to take it to a next level.

10. Using the Superstar Model as a Paradigm. Or any model. Don't get stuck in what has worked for others and think it will work for you. You can't borrow the vision. Be indigenous. Which means know well the culture you are incarnating a missional spirit into.

I have made and continue to make all of these mistakes. They continue to be the sources of questions to ask yourselves. They seem to circle around the one question: what is it you think God really wants as an outcome from your church or mission plant?

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