If you are new to this blog....

Welcome! The primary purpose of this blog is to explore and encourage around what it means to be winsome and sent into the world for God's glory. If you are new here, the definition of "lighthouse-searchlight" or our missional journey is a good place to start. Come peruse the blog and add me to your RSS feed!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

church with an expiration date?

I recently read an interesting post on Adam Walker Cleaveland's pomomusing blog. He invited a guest blogger, Russell Rathbun, to share an idea that sounds fresh and interesting to me. The post was entitled, "What if a Church had an Expiration Date?"

The basic gist was to start a new church with a core of folks committed to welcome, connect, develop, and focus outward such that after a set time (he suggests five years) they might be sent out to start afresh and multiply.

This idea very much paralleled the response I got from Stacie, one of the students I taught at the YWAM School of the Bible last May. Challenged to develop a worship service from scratch, using principles we had studied, she envisioned a whole church concept around that worship. It also had an "expiration date," though she didn't use those words. She envisioned a house church that would only meet for a year, beccause the expectation would be to disciple and grow such that two (or more) new house churches might be formed out of the original group after a year's time. In comparison to this pace, I found our mainline denominational church (as evangelistic as we may be) to be moving at a snail's pace... and a slow snail at that.

I believe such an idea rightly challenges us (esp. in the mainline denominations) to be more intentional about evangelism, discipleship, community, and multiplying ourselves outward. Having said that, as I reflected, I had what I think were some helpful thoughts toward the value of not 'expiring.' Here's what I wrote:

At first pass, I LOVED this idea, in spirit if not in specifics (after all, what if God had something in mind for 5 yrs. 1 week!)… and perhaps part of God’s witness is reviving/resurrecting things about to expire. Nonetheless... I think the caveat “remain open to what God might do” would be a good balancing principle, [though] I definitely think we need more permission to end things – within the church to be sure, if not the whole endeavor.

As I pondered [this idea] more, very significant matters like baptism, discipleship, multi-generational relationships, spiritual formation, etc… came to mind – i.e., many of things things that are right and healthy in churches, not to mention instructed in scripture. Perhaps the idea of a time-line for church planting and a holy expectation for multiplication outwards is a healthy application of the expiration date idea, without packing up the whole shop.

As 2nd pastor of a 28 yr. old church, I hear the stories of the first 5 years and can understand the value of tapping into that energy. Yet, I also see some amazing experiences that come out of the 15th year “stall” and pushing through it… it’s a kind of adolescence and even maturing that may come with time. I also think of the excitement of dating someone for the first time and the richness of a long-term relationship and marriage… certainly not as mobile and malleable as those early relationships, but also potential for lasting impact through children and maintaining a dynamic loving relationship as we age.

I think what I’m getting to is that, upon reflection, there are some important things that might be lost with a 5 yr constant re-start. Yet I think there might be some good ways to incorporate the energy, motivation, and expectation in this idea within the life of a maturing and outward-focused congregation. It is a provocative enough idea to at least get some good thoughts and conversation going!
I'd be interested in readers' thoughts, so please comment!

No comments:

Like Us!

Good Shepherd Creative Arts Ministry Video

Loading...