Anybody can Plant a Church

A few weeks back I was listening to Kevin, from the New York City International Project, teach about church planting.  He said something that really got me thinking. It got somebody else to do more than think!

He said, "Anybody can plant a church."

Anybody?  Did he really mean, anybody?  Yes, he really means anybody.

Kevin made that statement to our little house church here in east Orlando.  Now, you need to realize that in east Orlando you have a whole bunch of Christian organizations like the one I work for, Pioneers.  The four "founding" men in our house church are all involved with church planting ministries.  If there ever was a group of potential church planters, we would be it.  We have a guy who was very recently on the staff of a church that grew from 50 to 400 in about five years and is now a VP at a church planting agency.  Another guy was an early member of Bill Hybel's team at Willowcreek.  Another one has planted churches and currently leads teams of church planters in Europe.  Yours truly has planted churches in Bosnia and currently helps direct and lead an organization filled with thousands of church planters.

In two-plus years, though, our little house church has not multiplied.  Why?  It's complicated.

So when I heard Kevin say, "Anybody can plant a church," you would think we could un-complicate it!

Another person who was there that night, who we will call Bill, listened to Kevin speak.  Bill works for a construction company as a job estimator.  He is a pretty unassuming guy who likes to fish.  He is a good, salt-of-the-earth kind of guy and has been a part of little fellowship for a while.  When he heard Kevin speak that night, he asked one of the other men, "Could I start a church in my house?"

Last week, after inviting his neighbors, he started a church in his house.  It's the first time our house church has multiplied!

There are lots of lessons in this little story.  The first one is, Anybody can start a church.  I know for some that's a hard thing to swallow, but as Kevin reminded us, the Bible often uses a family metaphor when referring to the church.  Nobody takes classes about how to start a family (ok, sex ed in Junior aside…).  There is no permit required, no fee to pay, you don't go to seminary, and nobody starts out as an expert.  What if we saw starting churches more like starting families?

Another lesson is simplicity.  For some reason, the idea of multiplication was complicated for us.  Who goes with who?  When do we do it?  How do we stay connected? Who do we invite now?  For Bill, it was a simple matter of, "Oh, anybody can do this?  Great, we will ask our neighbors and get started."  Us "professional church planters" are the ones making it more difficult than it needs to be.

There are other lessons here, of course.  Perhaps you can suggest one or two…

4 Comments to “Anybody can Plant a Church”

  1. Carissa 14 July 2011 at 2:23 pm #

    I have always wanted a bigger family! Maybe the lesson to be learned from Bill is that we should not be afraid to ask. I don't know if I could plant a church, because I have never tried. And if you don't try, you have a 100% chance of failure! :) Thanks for sharing.

  2. blake 19 February 2011 at 12:49 am #

    As one who invested more than 3 years in leading a failed church planting effort 20 years ago, I see your statement needing some qualification. Certainly planting a traditional U.S. church is not something anyone can do. In fact, very few do it well.

    Planting a simple model house church is another matter. Don't know that I am ready to say anyone (as I don't see the Scriptures saying anyone), but certainly many more could. And the effective simple model house church planter is almost always a very different individual than someone who would consider undertaking a more traditional model. Our educational training and church backgrounds often serve as impediments rather than making us more effective.

  3. Wendy McManus 18 February 2011 at 11:09 am #

    Great article Ted. Miss you guys, been thinking a lot about this lately. Does it really have to be that hard? "Bill" summed that up pretty well. Wendy McManus

  4. @matthewdgreen 25 January 2011 at 4:53 pm #

    This is a challenging word, particularly as someone who's always been a part of traditional churches–and every one of them could be categorized as "struggling" in the area of making reproducing disciples. Your situation is a real life example of what Neil Cole refers to as raising the bar of what it means to be a disciple and lowering the bar of what it means to be a church. Traditional churches tend to reverse this axiom.


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