Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Just Wondering...

The following was written by Pastor Jerry Crenshaw as new way to plant churches.  What do you think?  Do we have room for what Jerry is talking about?  Do you feel called to plant a "house church" ? How can the Region (meaning all of us, not the Regional staff or just pastors) help this become a reality?

Dennis, I love these posts and the questions and searching hearts that are reflected. But I wonder. We seem to think of church planting as something only seminary trained, professionals can do. Call out the experts. It seems to me that a lot of churches have been planed by amateurs.. or by lay people. Acts seems to have some good examples of that. It also seems that we have a institutional model in our minds. Like the only good new church ministry is to establish a lasting institution, building campus and all. I wonder if we can find ways to challenge laity to gather their friends around a need in their community. I wonder if there are not those who would love to do “missional type work in meeting a felt need. Could we then encourage them and walk with them helping them to reflect upon their work through their faith perspective. What are their cherished values? Why do they “want to give back” to the community? How does their working together reflect up their love for their “neighbor”/ What does it say about their love for the divine presence _ for God? Help them to reflect and grow from where they are, not from where we think they should be.

If we could then help them discern their needs. For instance when they felt a need to worship together as a community could we trust them and help them to find what meets their need? Could we offer resources and encouragement? Could we be aware enough to bring like minded groups together? This is not offered as any answer, not as the only solution to a rather complex challenge. But I hope we are aware there are those out there that are being disturbed and are beginning to wonder about a new faith experience that just might lead to church happening.

I have worshiped with at least one group that has gathered and are growing a church with out ordained ministers. Their excitement and sense of joy at owning that experience is exciting. On my first visit they were excited to tell me, a stranger who just walked in off the street, that they were all responsible for preparing for their worship experiences and leading in them. They bless the loaf and the cup together, with visitors, and serve each other. They decide together how to reach out and minister to the needs around them. They gather around their sick. They help those who have become jobless.

I keep hearing of others who are wanting to do something in calling a new faith group together. I am encouraged by these and wonder if we do not demand to much or that we expect them to meet our standard of church. I think we, as a region and as individual congregations, have so much to offer such groups. And I wonder if what is holding me back is a set of blinders that I have some how assumed was church. As I said, “I wonder...”

Keep up the excellent and stimulating blog and facebook page. I join with you in inviting others to share their dreams and wonderings... and longings... and prayers. Thanks again.

If you or a group of people are interested in planting a faith community, please let me know.  Email me at 


  1. The key in Jerry's narrative, I think, is "owning the experience." This generation demands and expects hands-on ministry and involvement: they are too restless, too eager to get involved, to sit still in a pew week after week.

  2. I had a conversation quite awhile back with a friend of mine. She wasn't a churchgoing person; although she'd grown up daughter of a preacher, she'd had some very bad experiences with church in her adult life. I described to her how I wanted to do a "church" project: a gathering around a meal, with some scripture, some music (maybe someone might have a new song they'd written or learned to share), some discussion, and the Communion elements as a natural part of the meal. She said, "That gives me chills. If there were a church like that, I would totally go." But about a week after that conversation, I went to the new church planters' training, and sort of had that dream quashed out of me in favor of the "go ye therefore into the suburbs and create a self-sustaining church with building and budget" model, which quite frankly I am certain I am not called to do.

    1. You probably don't want to know what I think about how we sometimes do new church planting so I will let that dog sleep. What I will say is that there is more than one way to start a church. I'm not opposed to the traditional suburban model, but that's just one way of doing it (and in our fiscal reality it is becoming less of an option). I do believe there are other ways to do church and they should be encouraged. So take this as me giving you permission: if you feel called to do this kind of "simple church," by all means, go and do it. Don't listen to what the "experts" are telling you.