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August 14, 2012

One of the Challenges for Missional Church Planting in Urban North America

The following is an excerpt from an article, “Top Challenges for Missional Church Planting in Urban America” by my friend Dan Steigerwald, President of Christian Associates North America – a non-affiliated church planting organization.

What Dan raises here is long-standing challenge that we have experienced in church planting.  Right now many of our new urban church plants have been able to identify places and people of great need.  Many of the planters I talk with express that they area pretty good in their communities at adding benefit to the community in a participatory, non-threatening way.  All of them consistently tell me of the struggle to maintain and promote proclamation in Word and not only in deed.  The Gospel of John, portrays Jesus’ ministry as always doing and being, word and deed. Jesus not only provides bread but is himself manna. 

Dan describes this challenge below.  How are you addressing this?

“ ‘Over-missioning’ at the expense of proclaiming and integrating a more holistic discipleship stance. A good number of planting teams adopt social justice and compassion impact as the measures of success, rather than broad-based impact across a bigger swath than marginalized populations or a single neighborhood or population group. New discipleship out of the sphere of natural relationships often plays second fiddle to the ideal of making a visible difference in righting societal wrongs and spheres of neglect/oppression along a certain narrow band. These are definitely important foci for planting teams, but missional communities must project themselves beyond the rescue, solve-the-problem motif. Jesus is the Savior and Rejuvenator, and He is also the One who goes before in creating and exemplifying environments that respect and cultivate beauty and healthy, sustainable rhythms. These express humanity as God intended – with ebb and flow, engagement and disengagement as part and parcel to our develoment as Christ-ians (or “little Christs,” as C.S. Lewis labeled us). We are in a secondary sense instruments designed to achieve God’s grand purposes; we are, however, primarily his children who are called to be as much as to do. If plants get the order screwed up, it can lead to burn out, unsustainable growth, and discipleship as a performance treadmill. Living as a “contrast society,” as Alan Roxburgh describes the church’s call in culture, means that we ultimately live into hard ministry among the margins, while at the same time we live out a Narrative that is full-orbed, life-giving, and relevant across diverse societal strata. This holism is essentially the expression of what’s meant by a communal call to live holistically as a sign and foretaste of God’s shalom order that is now and yet coming.” 

© Dan Steigerwald Christian Associates International 2012

If you want to see the rest of the challenges they will be posted at in the Resources section. 

Tags: church, planting