Mission Fields Across the Street: Sending and Supporting Simple Church Planters as Local Missionaries
Churches in North America are ineffective in reaching their surrounding neighborhoods when those neighborhoods are populated predominately by people who embrace a postmodem lifestyle and worldview. One of the reasons for this ineffectiveness stems from an ecclesiology that leans heavily upon institutional structures and methods that fly in the face of postmodem sensibilities. This problem is addressed by proposing partnerships of established churches and denominational agencies with simple church planters as a way for traditional churches to play an active role in supporting a missional presence in an emerging culture through planting simple churches.
Section 2 introduces the problems and challenges confronting the modem church in reaching postmodems in North America and shows that a significant factor contributing to this challenge is the inappropriateness of a highly institutional ecclesiology. Section 3 discusses what others have put forward to address anemic outreach and church growth in North America and how these efforts have fallen short in solving the problem. Section 4 offers a thesis that the church, properly understood, is missional and relational at its core and finds its identity in the triune nature of God, and that simple churches can readily embody and express this core identity. In light of this claim, an alternative to reaching an emerging culture is explored through an examination of the core values of simple churches and how these values resonate with postmodem sensibilities. Lastly, instead of insisting traditional churches undergo radical reconstruction in order to effectively connect with a changing culture, the author suggests how they can participate in planting simple churches to reach an emerging culture. Section 5 outlines a solution to the problem in the form of a book project that presents contemporary examples of partnerships between traditional ministries and simple church planters, provides commentary on related issues, and suggests questions to the reader for reflection and group discussion. Section 6 provides an overview of the project specifications, noting such areas as audience, budget, and publication. Section 7 is a postscript that reviews and evaluates the project while offering suggestions for further study.