In my reading from David Platt's book Radical yesterday, he talked about his teaching experience at an Indonesian seminary. He said before students are allowed to graduate they are required to plant a church, with at least thirty new, baptized believers, in a Muslim community (43). Can you imagine? I kinda like it.
Awhile ago I was reading through some comments from a church planting seminar here in the states. They were talking about how "cool" this one church was, and all that. Someone asked for the website of the church, because he was planning to plant a church and he wanted to visit as many of these "successful" church plants as he could so he could get an idea of what he should do. He wanted to "see what was working for others."
I actually wrote a post just about that... but decided against publishing it for a variety of reasons. At any rate, I completely understand what this guy was talking about, because I did a similar thing when I was thinking of planting a church. I visited a bunch of churches and tried to gather as much info as I could from them.
I have a much different approach now though. For one thing, I think "success" is a really crummy word, and idea, when talking about church. For another thing, all this stuff is still rooted in the attractional model of church. I can't believe our church planting people are still doing this! But for another, I think the last place we need to be looking for ideas are in already-existing churches.
I mean, if you're looking at churches in your own area (where you're going to be planting), then why do you need to duplicate what someone else is already doing there? In fact, rather than trying to see what others are doing so you can do that too, why not see what they're doing so you can do what they're NOT DOING! Rather than trying to reach those already being reached, how about trying to connect with those who are NOT presently being connected with.
Aside from that is the whole 'missional' versus 'attractional' thing. For too long church planting in the USA has just been about seeing who can put on the biggest and best show, and we've sorta forgotten about Jesus and the people he came to seek and to save. Jesus didn't just hang out a shingle and hope people showed up. He WENT to where the people were.
I say, if you're wanting to plant a church, you need to find out what the people in your area need (rather than what other churches are doing to attract a crowd). And, personally, if I were involved in church planting on a denominational level, I would be looking to see how we could help those who are already planting; rather than interviewing people looking for a handout so they can get started. It's sort of the difference between a job and a calling when it gets right down to it.
But... you know... this is just me sittin' here thinking thoughts while watching it snow.
Peace out; and in.