When I plant another church someday, I hope my mind and heart reference the experiences I've encountered in the past 5 years. Here's a few things I'm grabbing ahold of:
1. More than a "new church"
Recruiting 25-50 people to join a church plant could almost be labeled as easy because that which is "exciting"usually trumps whatever situation you are in regarding your home church. So, a launch team is typically filled with excited, zealous workers who are energized about creating a new community. The difficulty lies in communicating the vision because communication isn't just expression...communication requires someone else on the other end to get all that's being transmitted. I can proclaim my love for Katy from the highest mountain top, but what does it matter if nobody hears it? After a few months...a year...maybe more...the newness wears off without proper vision communication, leaving people disconnected and dissallusioned with the church plant.
I've learned to help people understand how a church plant isn't simply an easy opportunity to hook up with a new church because you're disatisfied with your current one. If that's the case, it'll be even easier to leave the church plant because of the pattern the person is creating. It's not about joining a new community or finally getting to do what you've always wanted to do in a "church." It's about advancing the Kingdom of God...multiplying the number of people entering eternity with God.
The influence I've had at Big Brothers Big Sisters has made one-on-one development come to the forefront when wanting to develop others. Whether its a pastor in the church or a lay person, the value of investing one life into another will never go down. Developing a large mass of people usually creates a fragile community with inadequate lines of communication.
When planting a church, each connection should be done right and thoroughly. Rather than looking for people to fill the ministry "positions", I see a higher effectiveness and efficiency in understanding the heartbeat of each person individually AND I need to know how I can serve them and do so for a period of time. This is what Christ did, and yes...I know...I just exposed my "post-modernity" viewpoint. I believe "practice makes perfect". It has to more than selling a leadership skill...live it, expose it, assign it, develop it:
Live the principle
Expose what the principle actually is
Assign the principle to your apprentice
Develop it with them to live...now you're back on top, ready to live a new life principle
If this strategy (modern idea) is practiced, I do believe a healthy group would be formed...a group that would multiply and develop.
3. Doing church
I have a constant wrestling match going on in my head. The thought that maybe "the church" is keeping "the church" from being "the church". We have greeters, ushers, follow-up crews, tech people, administrative people, worship teams, drama teams, children's workers, youth workers....AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH! By the time everyone has a job, we're all segregated into a much smaller world. The community is almost lost in the business of being the church. Now that the American church almost completely revolves around the building, we probably have to have all of these positions of leadership in order to function. It just feels like a better way is out there somewhere.
One thing is for certain...in planting a church, it's much easier to envision a community that desires to "be the church" rather than one that merely wants to "do church". To help former church-goers grasp the idea of "being" rather than doing is getting more and more difficult, but it is very possible.
Having very little experience, I have to say the ideas, thoughts and dreams come much easier than implimenting each idea, thought and dream. The question to ask is: Are we, as a church community, advancing the Kingdom of God or are we simply advancing our comfort zone?.