It wasn't that long ago that when you said, "I want to start a church," people would give you weird looks. Some people might even wonder, maybe they don't know how to get a real church-job. Thankfully, things have changed. In fact, in some circles, it seems that church planting has become a preferred path for many young leaders.
Another big change is that resources for church planting are more abundant than ever. For a long time, there weren't many resources for the aspiring apostolic leader. Today, there are dozens of books, blogs, and podcasts. There are also great conferences that encourage and equip church planters.
These are huge steps forward, but we don't think it's enough. We want to see the Church join God's mission in today's culture. Key to this is seeing more and more missional churches planted.
That dream lies at the heart of our partnering organization The V3 Movement, and their upcoming event, The Praxis Gathering. For three days, practitioners from who have spent years establishing missional beachheads in their neighborhoods will share their experience, hopes, and dreams. Some of the participants include Alan and Deb Hirsch, David Fitch, Linda Bergquist, Jon Tyson, David Bailey, Gideon Tsang, Mia Chang and others.
Although there are more events and opportunities than ever for church planters, we exciting to be partnering with V3 for these 10 reasons.
10. North America needs new churches
We all know that the culture is quickly changing in North America, and this is felt especially in the church. Sadly, established churches who once ministered to the needs of previous generations sometimes often lose their footing. Many are closing their doors every week. On top of that, populations continue to rise and move to new parts of the continent.
We are thrilled that so many people are planting churches, and that denominations and organizations are getting behind it! But we want to encourage even more new churches, each uniquely equipped to serve the needs of their neighborhood and engaged with the questions of today.
9. We need more interaction
You may have heard the critique that church planters are guilty of planting a church in their heads and not in the neighborhood around them. It's an easy mistake to make, especially when all you do is read or listen to people talk about mission. To get beyond that hurdle, The Praxis Gathering has been designed to focus on interaction. The conference, meals and housing are all under the same roof, to ensure that you will have opportunities to discuss what you are learning, and how it applies to your context.
8. We need to spotlight practitioners
The resources for church planting continues to grow, but information alone does not lead to transformation.
V3 chose the name Praxis because it reflects the desire to learn from experienced practitioners. Praxis means a process by which a theory is enacted or applied. The Praxis Gathering is a unique church planting conference in that we are passionate about the space where real-time practice collides with rich theology, followed by deep reflection. During our time together, we will plummet deep into the hands-on-work of disciple-making, community formation and incarnational mission for the sake of Godâs in-breaking Kingdom. There is a movement afoot calling us into these grounded vital essentials.
7. We need to learn from experience
Because this gathering focuses on grounded missional practice, we are bringing together thoughtful practitioners to lead us. The prerequisite for every communicator guiding us into church planting essentials is that they must live the material they share with us. Great communicators are in abundance, but best practices and tools come from the bumps and bruises of working them out on a street level context.
6. We need an incarnational focus
Incarnation is central to Jesus' approach to ministry. Eugene Peterson famously paraphrases John 1:14 in the Message: "The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood." It's not enough to be "for" a city, but we need to learn how to be "with" our city.
According to V3's Dan White Jr., "God is not interested in a professional compassion. He wants to take us through the labor process of birthing the real thing. This practice of tangible love has brought me face to face with my limits, impatience, stubbornness, and resentment. The Praxis Gathering will dig into what it means to a move into the neighborhood alongside God. Even if it doesn't always bring out the best in us."
5. We need to learn how to be grounded in the neighborhood
Learning to exegete the neighborhood and city to which we have been sent because we need to find the best way to take the whole gospel into the real context in which people are living. As Rene Padilla has said, "To contextualize the gospel is to translate it in such a way that the Lordship of Jesus Christ is not an abstract principle or mere doctrine, but the determining factor of life in all its dimensions and that basic criterion in relation to which all cultural values that form the very substance of human life are evaluated. Without contextualization, the gospel will become tangential or even entirely irrelevant."
At The Praxis Gathering, you'll be challenged and equipped to what it means for Jesus to become the Lord of your neighborhood.
4. We need to address bitterness before it takes root
The difficulties of church planting, combined with painful experiences of the past, can envelop missional movements in bitterness. At The Praxis Gathering, we'll discuss how missional communities can become incubators of grace, patience and carefulness for the sake of long-term healing.
3. We need to highlight all kinds of planters
As broken women and men, no part of our culture is immune to the subtle effects of privilege. The church has a history of focusing on a specific type of leader, specifically white and male.
God is working through all of his people, to reach all kinds of people, and we want to join him! In fact, while many segments of the church in North America seem stagnant, some of the most exciting are happening among immigrant populations. More and more women leaders are finding their voice. The call to racial reconciliation seems more timely than ever.
Although we're not perfect, The Praxis Gathering is working hard to create a space to learn from leaders from different genders, ethnicities, and background. Check out our "practitioners" list to learn more.
2. We need friends and colleagues
In Under the Unpredictable Plant, Eugene Peterson keenly noticed how church leaders can be led astray by "ecclesiastical pornography." We see how "sexy" other churches may look, and lose site of our own mission.
Deep down we know the truth. Every church and every mission field have advantages and disadvantages. In fact, the pastor or planter we are so jealous of is probably jealous, too!
One cure to these "wandering eyes" is relationship. Church planting can often become lonely or disheartening. The Praxis Gathering creates spaces around tables where we can build relationships through sharing stories. Our hope is that participants will come away with a greater love for their mission.
1. Your neighborhood could use a new church
At the end of the day, we just have one clear, and measurable hope: to see more missional churches, grounded in local neighborhoods, spring up around North America. Chance are, no matter where you live, your neighborhood could use another church.
We want to help you start one.