A while ago I asked what I called the million dollar question:
Right up front we want to confess our belief that the planting of new, culturally diverse, missional communities is the best way forward for the church that views itself in a missional context. The challenging context in which we live in the West requires that we adopt a fully missional stance. While some established churches can be revitalized, success seems to be rare from our experience and perspective. We believe that the strategic focus must now shift from revitalization to mission, i.e. from a focus on the “insiders” to the “outsiders”; and in so doing we believe the church will rediscover its true nature and purpose. Perhaps an established church can plant a missional congregation within its broader church structures. Others might sponsor and support the planting of new congregations on their doorstep to reach those not interested in the conventional church. But it does seem to us that the real hope lies with those courageous leaders who will foster the development of alternative, experimental, new communites of faith.
If Frost and Hirsch are right, where does that leave many of us who are currently trying to revitalize established churches?
Last night, one of the authors (Alan Hirsch) left a comment which is too good to leave there:
I stumbled upon this discussion so I thought I’d post a comment. What we are saying is not that revitalisation is not a valid option, but that it is not neccesarily the STRATEGIC one in this time in which we live. The vast majority of the churches total resource (dollars, buildings, training, denominational services, etc. are dedicated to doing precicely revitalization work. We wrote the book to validate the missing strategy…namely that of new faith communities built squarely on missional grounds. The question I want to ask is, why do people in existing churches get so upset if someone says something that seems to point in another direction? Existing churches have most of the resource already?! Why I think it is important to tip the balance in favour of the new is because it it is the new experiments that the church might well find models for the future revitalisation of the church.
Lots of wisdom here. Not one or the other, but once again the existing church can champion the new instead of being threatened by it. Good stuff.