This Sunday our church will commission our dear friends John & Amanda Bethell, with their family, to plant a church in Port Augusta. We’re excited, nervous, heart-broken, and thrilled. Who can say how it will all turn out?
But they have a great plan. I’ll let you in on some top secret, cutting edge, world’s best practice church planting strategy: They are moving there.
If, as Woody Allen said, ninety percent of success is just showing up, then by the time you read this they will be High Distinction church planters. It sounds so incredibly obvious, but let’s not take it for granted.
Actually, physically, personally, getting out there and among the people is what separates missionaries from the missionally-aspirational. Reading missional church books and discussing mission doesn’t make me missional. Subscribing to (or even writing) the Sacred Agents blog doesn’t make me such an agent – unless I go to those to whom I am sent.
I come across many people who wonder why their community doesn’t join their church, when their church has never really joined the community. How many in the church are members of a local sporting club or other community organization?
I remember one rural church telling me wistfully of a time when they were the centre of the community. I asked them, “What’s the centre now?” and with one voice they said “The football club”. “What connection does your church have to the club?” I asked. “Any players? Umpires? Volunteers? Could the church become a sponsor?”
They won’t come to you if you won’t go to them. That’s the very essence of mission. Missiologists call it the incarnational principle. Jesus calls it leaving the 99 and going after the 1. Woody Allen calls it showing up.
A church wanting to turn its missional aspirations into mission could do worse than to draw a map of just where, how, and with whom the church is actually connected. As for the Bethells, they’ll both be working as doctors in Port Augusta. What a great place to start work on the other 10% of success.