Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Birthing Communities of Faith: A View from the Field

Several months ago, I wrote a blog about laity carrying the primary responsibility in startingnew churches.  My friend Frank Broome, the coordinator for Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia, responded positively to that post.  He reported that CBF of Georgia has had a dozen successful lay led starts with only two failures. 
 In an effort to gain some realistic feedback on this approach to staring new work, I asked Frank, “What factors contributed to the success of lay lead church starts in your state?”  Here is how he responded:  
  • "They began with a committed core of between 30 and 40 individuals who understood that they needed to give money and time.
  • "They were willing to begin in a home, fire station, metal shed or even Jewish synagogue, thus keeping rent to a minimum.
  • "They found an interim (usually through me) that was willing to preach at a small salary.
  • "They made sure the nursery was staffed with volunteers.
  •  "They were willing to relocate on average five times before they found a more permanent home.
  • "They linked with CBF/GA early on and began to give a little something to us thus helping to create a sense that they were giving as well as receiving.
  • "When CBF/GA gave help in the form of money or volunteers it was very targeted help.  We did not pay for bad decisions like excessive rent. 
  • "Finally we put successful starts in touch with new starts so the five to ten year old congregations could encourage the one to two year olds.  In other words the more established starts could tell the new start things that I could not.  In that way they created a sense of accountability over each other."

In this situation, the role of the state CBF leadership was to provide a supportive framework in which a lay led church plant could grow at its own pace with no strings attached.  They set their own expectations and lived into them.  This is a healthy, organic approach that assures local responsibility as well as local autonomy without a large investment of outside support and interference.  This sounds like something worth duplicating.

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