There you were, gathering your core team, dreaming about the sermons you would preach, mustering support, filing documents, getting a killer website, selecting a venue and getting your logo designed. You were just about ready to plant. It was going to be glorious. You were going to change your city with this plant. You were going to baptise thousands. You were going to write books, have a church of thousands and take your place with the likes of Spurgeon, Bonhoeffer, Graham and Keller. It was going to be great.

Then Covid hit. There is nothing quite like a plague to scuttle the best laid plans.

MAYBE ITS A SIGN FROM GOD

So maybe you decide to hibernate your plans and wait for fairer weather. Maybe you just say (much to your wife’s relief perhaps) “maybe it’s a sign from God to abandon the idea all together”. Maybe you decide to adopt a slow roll and keep it in core team meetings for the next couple of months. That sounds very safe, and very reasonable.

THE CHURCH WASN'T BUILT ON SAFE AND REASONABLE

The question is, is that how you think “the church against which the gates of hell will not prevail” was built? The church has faced mass executions, wars, religious cleansing, and being pushed deep under ground. And that is just in the 20th and 21st century. Go back a little and there is virtually nothing that the church hasn’t had thrown at it and come out stronger and larger. Plagues included. In fact in times of persecution, strife and calamity, the church has had both its finest moments and most compelling growth.

THE CHURCH ISN'T A VENUE

Churchill once said that a crisis is a terrible thing to waste, and that is no more true now than ever. The first thing you need to expel from your mind is that there is any notion ‘typical’ church plant. Every church plant is unique. Trust me, I know. I planted a church that was just left of normal because that’s what the area I was planting to needed. Being part of a network of hundreds and hundreds of churches I saw every kind of model, leader and strategy. Every country, city and suburb is unique so every must be unique to meet the people where they are at in their own context. The one consistent truth was always that the church isn’t a venue, it never was, the church is people.

The first thing you need to expel from your mind is that there is any notion 'typical' church plant.

A CHURCH FOR THE MOMENT

As cities and countries go into lockdown, gathering sizes limited and venues restricting access for fear of death looming on every breath, your preconceived ideas of church planting also vanished as an equally volatile vapour as the breaths which stopped it. As this became the reality of the church around the globe, forcing the church to adopt a digital first posture, we were given thousands of hours of poorly shot sermons to consume. Digital strategies that are basically non-existent and mission that has gone the way of the Dodo. Why? Because everyone was still longing for a return to normal and were built and structured with teams, budgets, venues and programs that simply are not covid ready. The question you, the planter to this time and moment, needs to be, what would a digital first, covid ready plant look like.

SCRAP THE PLAYBOOK

You need to scrap the playbook. Pull your core team together and burn the playbook. Venue? Scrap it. Programs? Scrap them. All those sermon series? Mostly scrap them. This moment presents an insanely great moment for the local church to exert a global foot print. It’s a great leveller. Suddenly the church of 10,000 has the same reach, resources, and opportunity as a church plant. This moment represents the opportunity to completely re-imagine mission, aid, ministry, programs and everything else. You get to plant a church with the same potential as a megachurch but without the pre-covid baggage.

WRITE THE NEW PLAYBOOK

Without the expense of venue, insurance and about a million other things, along with a clean slate, you get to completely re-write the playbook for church planting. Firstly you will need to rethink your core team to feature heavily the otherwise under-utilised but incredibly gifted and nowtro to this digital moment millennials. A highly function app build, website, digital advertising, content creation, video, sound, lighting, editing, and so many other things millennials (a cohort to which you might belong) are masters of.

This is brave new world, with a bold new tribe of planters and they need you to show them the way by writing the new playbook.

The opportunity to engage with creative content on emerging platforms, and a church style done for say TicToc first, what would mission look like to exploding gaming industry which has grown 200% during Covid, through platforms like Twitch. Maybe a 100% Instagram strategy, where the church is built entirely on engaging with users on a single platform. Utilising all social platforms, local and international as global missionaries, all from the comfort of your own garage. The question you need to ask isn’t “how do I plant a church”, but rather “how will I show others the way to build a church for this moment”? This is brave new world, with a bold new tribe of planters and they need you to show them the way by writing the new playbook.

A NEW SET OF OPPORTUNITIES

Of course mission and meeting the needs of your community are going to look completely different in this moment. There are also a whole range of new questions you are going to have to answer. How do we connect people? How do we keep our human touch in this moment? How to we weigh the risk to life against the command to share the love of Christ both practically and verbally?

you might just be a part of building the church against which the gates of hell will not prevail.

There is a lot of work to be done without a doubt but we at King and Crown would like to cheer you on, and beg you, don’t give up on your plant. Just look at it with one eye closed and while leaning to the left a little. It is going to look different, but different is what this moment needs, and who knows, you might just be a part of building the church against which the gates of hell will not prevail. A church for the moment that in generations to come will be spoken about as the moment the church changed for good and for better. A moment that the church was lifted out its stupor. A moment in which the church rose to meet the moment.

And remember, we are here to help.

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