Challenges of Church Planting

Hugo Charteris at Christ Church Newcastle makes some obvious but very real observations about church planting:

Downsides to Church Planting

At Christ Church we are committed to being a church (network of churches) that plant churches. I’m a fan. Yet let’s be honest there are downsides.

1. No people

If you’re used to attending a church of 500, then 100 will feel very small. If 100 is normal, then 20 will feel small. Indeed, you may be wondering, ‘what on earth do we think we’re doing, this doesn’t feel like real church at all’.  I know that feeling well having planted CC Heaton with 13, and CC Fenham with 9.

2. No building

If you’ve got the money then you can buy. Yet typically most new churches will need to rent. Certainly that’s what we’ve done and will need to do in the future. Which means hard work setting things up and down every week.  Yet more significantly it means not having a sense of place or belonging.

3. No money

If you start a new church then invariably money will be an issue. For us it meant that I didn’t take a salary for four years. That’s not an option for others, so each new plant presents a significant challenge. And will continue to do so as we plan for the future.

4. No structures

If you’re someone who likes structure then church planting will probably be difficult for you. No longer can you say, ‘But it’s always been done like this before’, because everything is new and the slate clean. Even the time that you gather is up for grabs.

5. High cost

This is less about money and more about the personal cost. There are friends you’ll no longer see, activities no longer available to you. For a Sunday to run you’ll have to do more than just one task (a good thing!), and some things will just not be as good as they used to be (like the music).

Of course none of the above is bad.  What’s more the nature of Christian discipleship is to ‘deny, take up and follow’. Nevertheless, given you belong to a church that aims to plant churches it’s worth knowing something of the downsides. Yet there are upsides. Which I’ll come to next time.

Some of the practical challenges for us have been getting used to lugging things around in your car every week, wondering whether we can afford to meet on another Sunday of the month (room hire charges), encouraging people to give and lead, challenges over where to meet. Of course, all these are put into perspective when you have a successful service, when someone new turns up and enjoys it, and more importantly when people respond in ways big and small to the gospel.

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