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Previous Post: Staying Together

In my previous post I laid out the problems and opportunities facing our church, and the possibilities for our future.

One of the possible solutions out there is a church plant from the contemporary service with a very specific focus on mission and community work. This church would be somewhat modelled after ideas like those proposed in the book “Tangible Kingdom: Creating Incarnational Community: The Posture and Practices of Ancient Church Now” by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay. This new church would be lead by one of our pastors and a group of congregants interested in forming this new church. They would most likely be from our contemporary service, focused on being a part of the community around the church, and working deeper to connect with the communities where we live as well.

Recently, our entire church had a congregational meeting lead by an outside moderator to discuss the different strategies that we could use to move forward. They were:

  • Do nothing for the present, take time to heal
  • Another attempt at a blended service
  • Sharing the upstairs sanctuary space, with two distinct services
  • Launching a church plant from the contemporary service

Regardless of which direction we decided to move in, it was quickly decided that doing nothing really wasn’t an option, as the problems we face would probably only get larger the longer we leave them to fester.

Before the meeting started, both our pastors spoke from the heart to share their perspectives on everything happening. Here are some of the main thoughts that came from their messages:

Senior pastor:

  • Our church is being tested. Many in the congregation are asking why we can’t simply pull together, make concessions, and continue has a united family. There are challenges ahead for all of us as we imagine what is best for our church community and the city of London.
  • Many are meeting-weary and exhausted. Many are feeling frustrated and discouraged, feeling they’re not being listened to, valued or respected. Many different perspectives are being shared at our meetings, and it’s difficult to find common ground and build together.
  • There are many questions of which move is best for us and the community. What would be healthiest for us, and enable us to work in the community? Would a new church plant be a better extension into our city, or would it only see our current projects wither? What happens to those currently projects supported by the church?
  • Are other churches doing things like this? What other projects are happening elsewhere? What can we learn from them?
  • Quite shaken up by the possibility of a new plant, opportunity but also very painful. Loves everything about our church (community, staff, the downtown, the Karen community from Burma/Myanmar, diversity of beliefs/nations/worshipping styles), doesn’t want to see it all fall apart. But, also sees the passion and energy of those working towards the plant, what can we do but bless those seeking this new way, and set them free?
  • This shouldn’t be seen as a split. Our church has had several healthy church plants in our history, and would maintain a strong connection with this new church should it go forward.

Associate pastor:

  • Read the book Tangible Kingdom by Hugh Halter 5 years ago, and since then have tried to follow this method. Teaches how to fixate less on worship time as the primary focus, and how to really “do” ministry. Less talk, more serving.
  • Goal of “TK” ministry is to work more in relational networks, and do tangible work in our communities. Many people mourn the loss of the neighbourhoods they grew up in, this returns focus on being there for one another, get to know your community, being good neighbours.
  • Important not to do work with motives (ie. end goal getting neighbours to join your church etc.), but because it is a good and fulfilling thing to do. Be a positive force in our communities, see our city transform for the better.
  • Has shared vision with others in the church association, there seems to be a lot of excitement and potential support for a plant.
  • This isn’t a knee-jerk reaction to how things have been going, has been contemplating such an action for years. Ever since starting ministry, has dreamt of leading this kind of project, think that the time has come.
  • Maintaining a strong connection to mother church is a must.
  • There is a fear that all the young congregants/families will be leaving, but this isn’t the case. Each person/family will have to choose what is best for them, and many have said they want to part of this new adventure, but many want to remain as well. There is a very good mix.
  • This church plant would be a “win-win” for everyone. There is a church that would be willing to host the new plant close to the downtown, and the existing church would be left with a large reserve of money and a prime downtown building.
  • We need to make clear judgements, know that we are making right decisions for right reasons. Hope that this new plant and mother church will only strengthen and grow together as we go our own directions, see each as extension of other.
  • There is great excitement to be “blessed and released” by our church, hope that this project can happen, and others can see that this is positive for everyone involved.

In my next post, I’ll look at the different perspectives shared at the meeting, and share some thoughts on how we can move forward. I hope to continue to consider and develop an understanding of what might be best for our church, as well as the larger global community. This is a time of great difficulty, but I hope, also a time of great opportunity to be a greater force for good in our communities.

Next post: Moving Together?