His first idea was to get people from nearby states to come to Iowa for a week or so, and do something to find a “person of peace” who would then start a Bible study that would eventually become a church.
As we develop strategy for church planting, there are some key principles to consider that affect our strategy.
- Ministry is enhanced by relationships. Unless the person going is highly skilled and willing to continue going back repeatedly, we should consider short-term trips as part of our church’s work of discipling church members rather than part of mission efforts. Short-term trips almost always have more impact on the person going than the people they go to serve. It takes time to impact people. Short-term projects may enhance a solid church planting strategy, but they should not be the center of a church planting strategy.
- The “Person of Peace” strategy of identifying a community influencer who opens doors to the community should be abandoned as it is usually practiced. The idea comes from Luke 10 when Jesus gave instructions to his disciples. We ignore almost all of the content of this chapter except finding a person of peace and then treat it like a silver bullet to unlocking a community. Yes, some people are better connected than others in a community, but let’s stop pretending this is some kind of a newly discovered biblical principle from Luke 10.
- I asked the denominational leader how a short-term volunteer would be able to get a weekly Bible study started in a community when he goes home after a week. He asked what I did on the mission field. My answer was that I moved there to live! You can’t start an ongoing Bible study in a week and then move back home. Who will lead it the next week?
- In any organization, the key is qualified leadership. The principle that we should follow is that unless we start with solid local leadership we shouldn’t expect a solid church.
Church planting even with the best strategies is difficult. Strategies that even conceptually don’t make sense should be abandoned.