For over a year, I have been working with a group of folks to put down roots for a new church start in a rapidly growing part of our city. Starting new churches is not a task for the weak! It is very much like a roller-coaster ride.
As we met yesterday in a community gathering (about 20 folks), we shared prayer requests, gave thanks for what has already happened, and prayed about our future direction. One of our group made a very significant comment, "It's hard to start a new church when people are not already upset or angry about something!" I have heard the same sentiment expressed in different ways, but it does prompt some thinking about the philosophy we have adopted in starting this new church.
First, we are not looking for those angry about their present church situation. Folks like that usually just bring their anger with them. On the other hand, if a person is presently part of a fellowship but has a vision for outreach that is not being fulfilled in their present setting, we welcome them to join in this task. Like the baby bird moving out of the nest, leaving home is healthy when you are ready.
Second, we have not attempted to beat the drum about this being a CBF-related church. Churches are, first of all, local expressions of the grace of God. They are blessed by God and accountable to God for their service and ministry. They join with other groups in order to further that ministry. Now, we believe that CBF and TCBF are good partners for ministry, but I don't think that is a primary selling point for this new church start.
Third, we really are looking for people who are not presently part of a Christian fellowship. If you think there aren't folks like that in our community, take a second look. They come in various categories. Some are simply unaffiliated Christians who are new to the community and still seeking a place to belong. Some have been badly burned by previous church relationships and need some healing before they will jump in again. Some are non-believers (or, as one friend likes to call them, "pre-Christians") who really have no clear understanding of the gospel.
Can you start a new church with people who are not angry? I pray that we can. We continue to seek ways to harness the more productive passions of care and compassion to motivate this work.
Any insights that might help us?