A couple of weeks ago I attended meetings at a church in Miami. The church was a relaunch. The former church, Immanuel Presbyterian, shut down. A few weeks later Crossbridge Church opened in its place. I love what the website calls this: a “church replant.”
If you want to understand why many churches need replanting, not just turnaround, then a recent episode of This American Life might help:
Host Ira Glass introduces the story of the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc., aka NUMMI. In 1984, General Motors and Toyota opened NUMMI as a joint venture. Toyota showed GM the secrets of its production system: how it made cars of much higher quality and much lower cost than GM achieved. But today, GM cars still don’t have the quality of Japanese imports, GM is bankrupt and on March 31, NUMMI will be closed, sending thousands of car workers looking for jobs. In this hour-long story, NPR Automotive Correspondent Frank Langfitt tells the story of NUMMI and why GM – and the rest of the American car business – wasn’t able to learn from it more quickly.
When GM and Toyota “replanted” the Fremont plant, they succeeded in turning things around. But when GM tried transitioning existing plants they failed. Replanting worked; renewing existing plants didn’t. I’d recommend this episode to anyone who’s trying, or thinking of trying, to turn a church around.
I’m all for church planting. And I’m not quite ready to give up on church renewal. But I’m wondering if we need to pay a lot more attention to church replanting.