In my previous posts, I outlined the challenges facing our church, and our pastors’ thoughts on what is happening, and where we go from here. With everything happening, how can we move forward together? Are we irreparably damaged, or can we find a solution that everyone can agree to?
There are lots of questions about what move (if any) would be best for the church community, and the greater London community. I sometimes irreverently refer to the protestant church as the Church of the Holy Amoeba, because, given enough time, it will inevitably split. I would naturally question the idea of our church branching in different directions, but as I work with the different communities within the same building, I wonder if it wouldn’t be the best thing for everyone involved if a very specific church plant were to emerge and go in its own direction.
This entire process has been a stark reminder for me, and for our church as a whole, just how fallible and human we are. It has forced us to face ourselves and each other, and to be honest about our weaknesses and shortcomings as well as our strengths. It has been a time of great vulnerability, but I hope that through it we may re-focus on what really matters.
A split by any other name might be just as bitter, some are suggesting. Could this be an amicable church plant, taking those willing in a dynamic direction, or are we just kidding ourselves? Would it just be a spiteful split from the mother church?
There is a great deal of excitement about the plant. An associated church that is close to the downtown have already said that they would give us worship space (including the use of their sanctuary Sunday mornings) and they seem eager to have us as partners. As well, the team that have come together to support the proposed plant want to develop strategies for working closer with the communities around the church, “being” the church for the city instead of focusing/dithering on what happens Sunday mornings. (When a committee has to decide where the lectern will be placed on Sunday morning you have officially missed the point) There is a great deal to work out yet as we see if this move may be feasible, but one of the major stipulations would be to ensure that a strong relationship remains with the main church, including occasional joint services. I and the larger group proposing the plant don’t want to simply “walk away” from our main church, though I feel that having some breathing room may be the best thing for everyone involved.
There is also a great deal of concern, trepidation and consternation about the proposed plant. One of the major concerns is that many of the projects headed by the church currently won’t be properly supported, including youth ministry and outreach work like community dinners, along with a fear that general leadership will leave the church with this move. There are questions of whether any proposed Tangible Kingdom-esque projects could be launched successfully from our existing church, without a plant needing to happen at all. There is also concern that this move is being done for the wrong reasons, out of spite because the group proposing the plant didn’t “get their way” in different changes that have been voted on in the church. There is fear that even if this plant were to happen, both groups would remain poisoned and corrupted, and only spread the contagion further. I definitely agree that no matter what action is taken, healing within the entire church has to happen.
There is a lot of legitimate concern here, and something that would have to be worked out as a proposal was shaped and voted on. There would have to be a lot of discussion of who would go and who would stay should a plant happen. However, with this, I hope there would be a lot of earnest discussion and assessment of strengths, and sharing of power and responsibility as people choose to be part of the plant or remain, perhaps both as their desire and their calling guide them. Many of the younger people from the contemporary service have signalled they would stay with the main church, so in these early days I think it is realistic to believe many of the current and future leaders of the church would stay, so the feared “hollowing out” of the congregation wouldn’t happen.
There is so much more work to be done, and discussions to have together. We will continue to think and pray over what would be best for us, our congregation(s) and the broader community, and I hope to continue to post what is happening here.