Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I’m worried about church planting.

I like church planting.

I think church planting is important.

I even did church planting, leading the team that planted Valley Heights Community Church.

But tonight the Sydney Synod is about to turn Evangelism Ministries into New Churches and focus it primarily, and it seems almost exclusively, on planting new churches in the Diocese of Sydney.

Here is my problem with that. The facts are:

  1. Over the period 2002 – 2008 where we were planting lots of churches (136 new congregations according to the website), we barely escaped going backwards in terms of overall Anglican numbers. Our church didn’t grow at all. We like church planting, but it isn’t clear that we’re very good at it, evangelistically speaking.
  2. In 2009, where our focus was all about evangelism in existing parishes and where those parishes were supported by a small team devoted to developing resources, facilitating idea sharing and flying the flag for ‘praying, connecting and expecting’ under the stellar work of Andrew Nixon, the Archbishop reckons we grew by up to 5% in that one year alone. All that suggests to me that with a little prodding from a bunch of evangelism obsessives our existing parishes are not so old and feeble when it comes to evangelism, as all the talk seems to suggest.
  3. The connect09 team came up with some great recommendations for maintaining momentum, but from what I can see that team is about to ride of into the sunset and without them there to do the stuff they’ve been doing for the last 2 years I can see momentum disappearing pretty darn quick. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a small, creative, enthusiastic team of evangelism obsessives to continue their prodding and encouraging and resourcing work? Who could do that and do it well? Hey, how about “Evangelism Ministries”. Opps no, they’re focused very much on church planting now.

What am I missing?

And I insist on slapping the first person who suggests the answer is "Mission Areas".


  1. It could work, with the right guys and the right gospel. But the concern here is that it institutionalizes and so replaces the biblical idea that it is the word of God doing the work of growing the church of God.

    Let the church plants catch up with the new numbers generated by genuine evangelism, surely.

  2. I agree that we currently are obsessed with church planting. I do believe that preaching the word in any context is effective.

    So let's do both. And let's not focus on one and deprive the other

  3. I didn't get to ask my intended questions tonight, but hopefully when we recommence.

    I did talk them through privately with the seconder of the motion which removed one concern and added another (which is not a problem with the motion per se).