It was crazy, really, for some Anglicans to dream an audacious goal like starting 1000 Anglican churches. Didn’t they get the memo? The Anglican Church is in decline and now is the time to batten down the hatches, hold the fort, and tighten the purse strings. Why put such a hard task in front of a weary church?
Well last week the Anglican Church in North America announced that they planted 100 churches in the past nine months. It’s amazing to see these churches take off, the latest church plants are listed here and they appear to be healthy communities with growing staff, outreach events, and exciting opportunities. Here’s a great video about what’s going on with the Anglican 1000 (highly recommended and inspiring!)
What if a new memo went out in the ELCIC that laid out a new Christ-centered vision for church planting? What if we started a Lutheran movement in Canada that turned our efforts towards seeing new people come to faith in Jesus and start new churches in their communities?
But planting churches is only part of what could be. I think a solid vision for church planting will change the way we do other things in the ELCIC, like how we train leaders. Here’s a quote from the Anglican 1000 website:
Churches are thinking creatively about equipping leaders and planting new congregations in their communities. Church planting used to be for the elite superstars of the clerical ranks. Today, we thank God for those who He has immensely equipped for this work while recognizing that a superstar strategy is not sustainable. Church planting is a work of the Body of Christ and involves those sending, those equipping, those resourcing, and those going.
But should the church entrust its growth to the laity? Jesus did and so did Paul. Ordinary people with burning hearts for Jesus heard the call and the church grew by God’s grace. What if we reform our leadership development system to equip passionate people to start churches and lead others into worship and service? What if we asked our seminaries to support the work of the church in new ways? What if we empowered the laity to become missionaries and ministers in their neighbourhoods – even to the point of starting new churches? It was the first century model of Jesus, would it be crazy to try again?