Our Church Planting Model Is Broken

Our model is broken.

For decades we’ve planted mid-size to large Hope Chapels in Hawaii. Mostly shooting for 150 at start, some grew beyond it. Most stabilized around the original size. Some shrank then stabilized. And a couple failed.

No More Public Schools

But we almost always planted in public schools. Two factors pretty much killed that: A. When others jumped into church planting, the schools became filled with churches. B. A lawsuit against a large church frightened school leadership from renting to churches.

With nowhere to launch, our model is broken. But, that is a good thing. Read on and I’ll tell you why.

No Change Without Pain

Organisms seldom adapt without a threat to their existence. We were stuck reaching middle-class, middle of the road people. The changes force adaption and innovation.

By moving to “micro-churches” we are more able to fulfill the Great Commission. I especially like the “disciples of all nations” bit. We know that the large nation-state may have been included but Jesus actually insists on something more tribal—“ethne.” Because our past model broke we have a shot at doing the real thing.

Urban church planting requires microchurches in apartments, food-courts, bars and coffeeshops. Workplace meeting spaces don’t need to stick to supporting Bible-studies, they can house churches (there is a vast difference between the two).

We are learning to touch people who would never fit in a church like those we started in the past (some grow large enough to rent schools or even buy property, but they are few).

An Untapped Source Of Church Planters

We have tapped into a tremendous leadership base. Lots of people in our churches feel called to plant a church but could never pastor more than 50 people. Many are in communication with groups outside middle-class society. One microchurch serves recent graduates of our prison system. A group of surfers meeting on the beach is another thought—as are recent immigrants. One man will plant in the gay community (he refuses to perform weddings, either homo or hetero).

The Future Belongs To The Unconventional

The future is waiting to happen. We just need to invent it.

Nobody knew they needed an iphone till Steve Jobs obsessed over change. He was one of those rare individuals who looked for change without being forced into it. Bill Hybels and Rick Warren come to mind as does Henry Ford–the guy who invented our modern system of personal loans (he also built a few cars, but that is a different story).

Most of us only make significant change when pain overtakes us (it is better to change your diet before the first heart attack).

Sometimes one door closing opens several others. Keep your eyes open and you can make similar moves without being forced…