Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Church Planting Mistakes #3 Foundations

I love the book of Ephesians. It is this exquisite letter written by a planter Paul, writing back to the church he helped plant in Acts 19. He is writing back with affection, intimacy, and fatherly passion.

In one of the weighty moments he writes: "apostles and prophets lay foundations" Eph2:20

What does that mean? How does that work? Who can I get?

The statistics point to many churches folding within the first year, then more in the next three years and certainly by five years, there is evidence that most church plants have folded. What are these mistakes and why are they repeated?

One of the prevalent reasons is the absence of solid a/p foundations. Foundations are needed for every  building / temple to stand firm, strong, solid and essential for healthy church. In God's architected design, he crafted a skill set within the apostles and prophets to ensure that the correct foundations are laid. There are some foundational pieces that pastors, teachers, evangelists and the priesthood simply cannot lay. That is not my crazy idea. That is what the text teaches and what I have seen and experienced over almost 40 years of doing church planting.

It is pretty clear that the "apostle and prophet foundations" are grace gifts as seen in Ephesians 4. They are not the Old and New Testament. Jesus called the old "the law and the prophets" and the new was not even written. We need  these gifts coming and digging the trenches alongside us, on the ground, understanding our story - not professionals watching and commenting from a distance.

At the risk of being simplistic let me suggest the foundations are made up of four cornerstones:

1.   Theology - a strong Christocentric matrix, rich in Trinitarian application, kingdom advancing and all bible instruction;

2.   Missiology - a clear sense of what God calls the church to be and do generically and specifically. Each church have a deep desire to see men and women, boys and girls come to a living and rich faith in Christ as well as embrace the specific mandate the Father has given them;

3.   Ecclesiology - help process what is truly biblically prescriptive, prophetically essential and culturally necessary;

4.   Leadership - as seen in Acts 20, there is a clear textual yardstick for who qualify for leadership, what their roles are and how they are to lead. Why too many mistakes are made with leadership matters, is that the business model is used way more than the biblical approach.

Buildings collapse because they have inappropriately weak foundations. Lets get this one right to stop the implosions that are causing so much pain.

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