Skip to content

Instability

by on July 26, 2011
Japan 2011 – 8.9

We’ve gradually become aware of an interesting quandary that we face, church-planting here in Canterbury. We welcome Christians to come and join in the mission here, but these Christians are members of other churches. There’s generally a bit of resistance from their leaders to their leaving and joining us!

Now here’s the interesting bit. Since we began recruiting 20 months ago, many of the people who have been interested in joining us have been people who were vulnerable in some way. Health, mental health, employment, family situation – people with problems. We just don’t seem to be very attractive to robust Christians with well-ordered successful lives! (That’s a post for another day)

Part of the resistance from church leaders to their people joining us is a concern for the person. The message is often, ‘A church plant is a risky thing. It could well fall over in a year or two. You will have invested so much of yourself in it, and you’ll end up burnt. We don’t want to see you hurt or discouraged.’

These leaders understandably don’t want to see their more needy or vulnerable people put themselves in a risky situation. After all, it’s true, church plants are known for being unstable. Many do fall over. Most, even.

So here’s the quandary: these are people who generally want to come. Should they come? Or do they have too much to lose from hanging with an unstable bunch like us?! And if these people who are keen don’t join church plants like ours, who will?

I’d love to hear people’s thoughts about this.

  • Are church-plants inherently unstable?
  • Should Christians move from more stable to less stable situations for the sake of gospel mission?
  • Which sort of Christians are suitable to do this?

From → General

8 Comments
  1. Veronica permalink

    Wow
    I have more to say than I have time for but just let me say this
    I think it is such a blessing to have brothers and sisters who are mission focused and who will challenge you to live for the gospel
    What classifies as a ‘stable’ church? What are the benefits?
    Maybe for those who are concerned about the support available need to understand the type of support they require and know what to expect before joining??
    I’ve been reading some material Tim Keller has written about church planting and he makes a point about how church plants have the potential to not only reach out to neglected/unreached groups but also challenge existing churches in their ‘accepted’ practices and if I remember correctly- even challenge them in their complacency
    I have to say that Canterbury Church Plant has indeed done this very well- ive personally benefitted so much from this church
    You guys have been a great blessing
    Keep it up! :))

    • Awe shucks, Ronnie, you’re too kind to us! It’s been such an encouragement to us to have you involved. Hoping for more of the same!

  2. Jen permalink

    I agree with Veronica and ask all the same questions as both of you! 🙂

    It is such a blessing to have brothers and sisters who are like minded – and will challenge you (& how) to live for the gospel. In spite of whatever problems or issues or “baggage” you might have (or have had).

    I do wonder though about how many people in our churches actually hide all that stuff? Surely this is a sign of a “stable” church…and we just don’t know about all the instability in it? (I always think of Casting Crown’s song “Stained Glass Masquerade” in these instances). After all it is God who does all the work in His people! A church (plant or otherwise) is a body of Christ and His people – and He does use all sorts of people for His purposes…

    I also wonder if the reason for the perception of an instable church plant is because, in history, it wasn’t really made up of all sorts of people who God uses to reach out and relate to those in the community around them? And that’s why it had collapsed? How can you have a team full of “stable” folks go into a community where things are not really that stable and be able to empathise? I know if I was a member of that community I’d wonder…maybe that church is “too stable and perfect” for me and it would blind me from seeing Jesus. I would see a church that was rather insular and exclusive – and not really welcoming to me or my situation. Isn’t it more helpful to have a church of faithful Christians who are faithful, even in suffering, to show that the love of Jesus is all the time (and not just in times of stability). Yet all the while reach out to me in that same situation but not know the love and hope of Jesus. What a way to witness!

    Basically I wonder if the insecurity of having the “wrong kinds of folks” join a church plant is more indicative of a lack of faith that He won’t use them for His purposes to grow His wider church? Wouldn’t it be great to have a church plant challenge those “stable churches” them in this thinking and to re-visit what and how they are – to shake them of their complacency.

    I agree with Veronica – this church plant has achieved the balance of just that. So far that’s just what has happened – and to that degree it’s actually encouraged people of a “stable” church to change for Christ too! And for that I am greatly encouraged and grateful for. Praise Him for how He has used this plant in ways seen and unseen…heard of and unheard of…amongst His wider church 🙂

    • How can you have a team full of “stable” folks go into a community where things are not really that stable and be able to empathise? I know if I was a member of that community I’d wonder…maybe that church is “too stable and perfect” for me and it would blind me from seeing Jesus. I would see a church that was rather insular and exclusive – and not really welcoming to me or my situation.

      That’s a good point Jen. It helps here to have a bit of a messy team, means messed up people can fit in!

  3. Those are hard questions!

    I have not much experience but I don’t think that the “stablilty” of established churches are necessarily more healthy than the instability of a church plant. Sometimes situational stability can make it easy for people to start engaing in instable social behaviour – like wearing masks and pretending everything is OK.

    Surely there are some benefits in being in an unstable church situation as well as risks?

    • Interesting points Alison. I’ll have to think on these. Sounds like you’re saying the risks of joining a plant are more recognised than the benefits. And the reverse in established churches.

      • Yes! I think so anyway. The benefits of church planting are pretty massive if the team is trusting the Lord the whole way.

      • We’re trying to learn to do that! Thanks for the words of encouragement.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: