As a Mac user, I’m the first to admit that many Mac users are obnoxious. When we find out that you use a PC, we can’t wait to tell you that we used to own a PC as well, but now we’ve seen the light. Guilty as charged. I’m sorry.
The same thing goes for church planters. Many of us can come across like planting is where it’s at, or that planting in an urban context is the thing. Planting is important, but we sometimes unwittingly give the impression that pastoring an established church, especially outside of the city, is second-best. That’s unfortunate. Both planting and pastoring are important. While cities are important, so are the suburbs and so are the rural places.
We need church renewal and we need churches planted.
I was reminded of this today as I read Thom Rainer’s post:
My burden to see struggling churches become turnaround churches grows daily. There are an estimated 100,000 churches in North America that would be deemed terminal by most pundits. There are another 100,000 to 200,000 that are very sick and could soon be on the deathwatch…
And while church revitalization may not be the only instrument God uses, it has to be a critical instrument in this spiritual battle. Would you join me in prayer about this urgent and critical need? Would you consider how God might use you in the effort?
That’s a call to action we need to hear.
I sat with a group of pastors and church planters last week and was struck with our similarities. While there are differences between planting a church and pastoring an existing one, we have a lot in common. Unless you’re called to an already-healthy church, you will need many of the same skills and support that a church planter needs. In fact, many of my friends almost seem to be grafting a new church plant onto an existing church. One major difference is that pastors of existing churches have to confront existing issues and powerful people who where there before they arrived — not an easy thing. But many of the same entrepreneurial skills are needed, as is the same passion for evangelism.
One of the obvious implications of this is that we need to be praying for and supporting each other. I praise God for those who have been called into existing churches, as well as those who are called to pastor established churches. I pray that both will hear and obey the call to make disciples, and that we will work together for God’s glory.
I also pray that pastors of existing churches will get some of the same assessment and coaching tools that planters get, but that a matter for another post.