I recently read an article from Connie Jakab which really caught my eye and captured my imagination. She said we should stop planting churches and start planting people. Here is a statement that hurts and yet inspires.
“We fool ourselves into thinking if we can turn our services into Cirque de Soleil quality then people will flock.”
That hurts because, at some point, almost every church leader has leaned on what we know how to do—run excellent services. While our end-goal is to change people's lives, we often focus more on the production of an event. There is nothing wrong with excellence when it comes to the weekend experience. In fact, if we totally ignore the production, we open up a whole new box of issues. However, we miss the point when an event becomes the end instead of the means to the end.
The inspirational side of Connie's article is that things can be much easier than we make them. If the point is to come alongside people and model Christ in a context which is relevant to them, we don't necessarily need buildings, productions and laundry lists of ministries. For new church plants, those things can actually delay our goals, not propel us to them.
So, perhaps we should pause and regroup. If we aren’t living, breathing, and coexisting in the community in which we are trying to reach, aren’t we simply just organizing church services for them? Are we really expecting heart change to come from the weekend experience?
Lives are changed through relationships within the context of community. Athletes train in groups. Musicians practice in groups. Scholars conduct research in groups. Just about every person would agree that with the right people in the room, collaboration makes something better, stronger, and more lasting than what any one person could invent on their own.
The same is true with church. We don’t need more churches who understand production. Rather, we need more churches who believe that great weekend experiences are an introduction to a real person, with real needs, who really needs Jesus. And, if that is what really matters, we should put less focus on the weekend service and more on what helps us foster relationships, meet needs, and monitor impact.
Connie is quick to point out that church planting looks different in urban settings. Planting a church in a major city may look less like a traditional corporate service and more like having your neighbors over for dinner, or throwing a block party, or getting on a first name basis with your local butcher. (I love how Jarrett and Jeanne Stevens are doing this at Soul City Church in Chicago.)
If you’re a church planter, let this post be an encouragement to you. Continue to invest in people, build relationships, and serve your community. Remember that the end goal should never be to plant another "service." Let that happen as a result of your focus on reaching people.
What do you think?