When I started writing this article I thought I could bang it out in a couple of hours. But as I began to analyze all that we are doing in church planting, I discovered that the process of establishing Core Values (DNA) is much more complex than I anticipated. I should have known this. I have been telling people for years that everything we do in church planting establishes Core Values.
My problem is not with the major Core Values. It’s with all the little things we do while working with new groups, and in some cases, even before we start the work with new groups. So, I am going to publish this in parts as I work/think through all we are doing.
It is very important to start new groups with the Core Values (DNA) you want to see in the church. This is probably the most common mistake I see in church planting. People start groups without the essentials of church and hope to reform the group once they become Believers. Or, they establish unintentional DNA that hinder replication and/or growth.
The heart of a church start is a lost family or affinity group. Redeem existing groups; don’t build new groups by winning individuals to Christ and congregating them, or by using existing Christians. Most church planters try to build new groups by winning individuals to Christ and then forming them into groups. If you take any time to think about this you will realize that this form of church planting is very slow, is not easy to replicate, and is not keeping up with current population growth.
I never start churches using personal evangelism or with Christians. If you use personal evangelism, you miss the New Testament concepts of disciple-making to salvation, family-focused evangelism and establishing the new church around a minimum social unit or existing group. (See Matthew 10 and 28, Luke 9, Luke 10, Acts 10, and more) If you start a church with Christians you have just established an unintentional Core Value that it requires a group of Christians to start a church. These kinds of churches do not replicate well because, if the church is dynamic and growing, no one wants to leave it in order to start a new group.
So, start new churches with non-Believers. Find existing families or affinity groups that will allow you to introduce the Gospel to them. This establishes the first link in the DNA – Church Planting is about the lost, and it only requires a group of lost people who are willing to listen to God and learn from Him in order to start a new group that will become church.
Jesus says in John 6:44-45 (NIV), “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.
Start new churches by discipling the lost to salvation through simple Inductive Bible Studies or Guided Discovery Bible Studies. We want lost people to listen to God, not to us. If we simply let Scripture talk for itself, people will hear God speaking, and if they choose to listen, they will come to Christ.
On the way to South Africa