Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Church Planting Does Not Guarantee Missional Focus

New churches can become trapped in a routine of aimlessness and irrelevance just as easily as an existing church. 

This dynamic happens because every Christian leader has a mental model of church.  These mental models govern our behaviors, often on an unconscious level.  So while we talk the language of a new paradigm, we typically behave according to our old mental models which have been constructed over years in established churches. 

The power of these mental models cannot be over emphasized!

Quite frequently new ideas never get put into practice, or if they do, they do not sustain because they conflict with deeply held internal assumptions and images of how the world works.  These mental models determine not only how we make sense of the world, but how we take action (or fail to take action.)  They affect what we see.  Two people with different mental models can observe the same event and describe it differently, because they’ve looked at it through different “lenses” or different mental models.

Because of the influence of our mental models, every pastor and church leader (whether in a new or existing church) must be willing to prayerfully reflect on their governing assumptions and common practices.  The problems with mental models lie not in whether they are right or wrong.  The problems with mental models arise when they reside below the level of awareness.

The aim of Renovation is to help pastors and Christian leaders begin a dialogue about themselves, their churches, and their city.  It is to help them affirm one another around their mutual commitment to the purposes of God.  And it is to help them begin to explore existing mental models that might be limiting their impact in the world. 

We encourage you to reflect on assumption you may have held about:
  • Your church and your church's role in the city
  • Other churches and other pastors in your city
  • The power of the gospel and its impact in the city and the world
  • Your responsibility and accountability to the purposes of God

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Exploring God in the New Year: 5 Questions for Church Planters to Begin With

I've been fascinated recently by some research I have been doing for a ministry client. This research has significant bearing for church planters in the U.S. and around the world.

We have been trying to identify the spiritual questions that are most common among people. So far we've come up with about 70 questions. However, 5 questions seem to be the most common starting points for most people.

In researching these 5 questions it was interesting to note that all 5 of these have been trending up on Google Trends for the past 2-3 years. I hope you will encourage your friends to "explore God" in 2011! Here are 5 questions that will make a good starting point.
  1. What is Truth? There is a huge debate about absolute truth vs. relativism. Our culture embraces "tolerance" which typically means, "there is no absolute truth." But is there any absolute truth? And if there is, can you know it?
  2. Is There a God? This takes us back to the origin of man and the universe. Where did it all come from? And if there is a God, where is this all heading?
  3. What is My Relationship with God? If a person concludes that truly there is a God, then this is the next logical question! There is increasing interest in knowing how to have a meaningful relationship with God.
  4. What is My Purpose in Life? If there is an almighty, creator God, and if He wants a relationship with me, that leads me to the question "Why?" Why would this almighty God want a relationship with me? What's the purpose of this relationship & of my life?
  5. What Happens When I Die? As people face the threats and the fears of our day, they come to terms with their mortality. As we come to terms with our mortality, this is the big question!
Church Planters, as well as all Christians, should be looking for opportunities to have conversations around these questions. We need to know what we believe about them and why we believe it. I hope you will accept the challenge to explore God in 2011 and begin conversations around these 5 questions! Let me know what you think!