Would you do life differently?

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I have said a few times to leaders who are in established churches, “Imagine if you were starting a new church, how would you live life and what would your priorities be for ministry?”
 
This is helpful paradigm to help us shift our thinking. What would you do differently? For when we have been in an established church for a long period of time, we think a certain way. Please understand I am talking generalisations.
 
Let’s take a few examples of living in an established church mindset and then we will compare them to a New Church Planting (NCP) mindset:
Finances – they are usually fairly stable and predictable. Budgets are set, cash flows are set, and usually come in somewhere around the target, as you will know if you have been in the church for many years. One usually can see what percentage increases are realistic and the faith projections that could be realised.
 
In a New Church Plant, (NCP) every $ counts. And it’s usually the same for mission and ministry outside of the church. Resources are seen to be in the harvest. 
 
Missions – usually there is a missions team, especially for other nations. A missions budget is set. Mission locally is in place with events and programs. In some churches, it doesn’t seem to bother leaders if people haven’t come to faith or been baptized in the last 6-12months.
 
In an NCP – It’s usually all about mission. It’s why the church was birthed. They are very committed to finding people of peace.

Pastoral – is mainly for those inside the church. I’m not saying it’s wrong it’s just that it demands focus. Paid, professional (part time, or full-time) are the people who pastor those in the church.
 
In an NCP, pastoring the community or the city is the captivating thought. How can people in our new church pastor people in the community? There is a focus in releasing everybody into their gifts. Let’s face it, there are not many people in our church yet.
 
 
Size of the congregation – if we have 1500 or 150 in the congregation, we can feel like we can relax, after all, if we are 1500 people or 150 people in the church you are in the 20% category, above average for church attendance. Wonderful.
 
An NCP looks at those outside of the church. It’s not who’s in the church, it’s who’s outside that’s the focus.
 
Events – these can be put on mainly for the church community, without too much thought of the community around them. That’s just the reality and by the way, it’s good to do for the church community.
 
In an NCP, events have the emphasis to win people to Christ or introduce them to the community of faith. Why? Usually it’s because of limited resources, people, and budgets, so we want to have the maximum impact for the community around us as well.
 
Facilities – are mainly in a building, which is wonderful. Health and safety regulations need to be adhered to, maintenance issues are ongoing, ongoing finances need to be raised for buildings. By the way, buildings are fantastic if used for reaching the community.
 
For an NCP, there usually is no building so renting is needed, and change of buildings can be adjusted when the needs are different and as the church expands. The church is more than facilities and is forced to live this out. Resources can be used for ministry. Homes are used for meetings, coffee mornings, dinners, offices, and evangelism etc.
 
Leadership – professional people lead. Of course it is not intentional, but the size of the church and the length of it’s existence can demand or determine this. Leaders can tend to do ministry for people.
 
In an NCP, usually it’s a team; it has to be because of time and the resources of the church. The leaders do ministry, but they are focused on equipping others and enabling them to do the work of ministry.
 
The list could go on. Please let me remind you that these are generalisations and are not in any way against larger churches. 
 
You will see from the above list that a New Church Plant has many, many limitations. It’s encouraging to note that limitations are not impossibilities or barriers, they are often God’s gifts to us!  Limitations cause us to pray, read the Bible, communicate, use resources, and let us see volunteers’ gifts and time very differently. Limitations push us to God and His limitlessness. They also cause us to think out of the box and help us focus on mission.

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