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Network! Network! Network!

How are you going to create a starting point from which you plant a new church? Your key is network. Network! Network! Network! Get to as many people as you can. We don’t start intercultural churches by starting worship services. The worship services come down the line. If you are commissioned by your church to go and start a new church, here’s what I would say, the deal has to be that for one year you do mostly networking.

Networking has essentially two goals in mind:

  1. CONNECT WITH RESOURCES You want to find out, what are the ministry resources that God has placed into your community, town or city, that your church wants to avail itself of or connect to, that will help you plant the church or will enable you to connect the people of your congregation to those resources.

  2. MEET PEOPLE to whom you can cast the vision, but mostly to LEARN FROM THEM how to contextually speak to people of that culture. I learned this from Tim Keller years ago – I would just make appointments with a complete strangers – I started with one person to whom I could ask my questions. So, I met with him and I asked my two main questions:

Q1 The first set of questions is around 'What is the average person, like yourself, like here in this city?' What’s his lifestyle like? What’s his priorities? With a ton of questions to drill down and take lots of notes. What beer does he drink? What wine does he drink? What newspaper does he read? What sports team does he support? I want to know everything there is to know about the people I am wanting to reach with the gospel through my church community – contextualisation – you are learning the context in which you need to start this church.

Q2 The second question is around ‘what kind of church do I need to create?’ ‘What does the culture of this church need to be like, in order to reach that person that you just described to me?’

Q3 A third and final question is then ‘can you give the names of 2 or 3 more people that I can go to, to ask the same two questions? So, I build up a list – Christians and non-Christians.

So then I call up ‘John’ and say I’ve just been chatting to your friend… such and such… and I’m planning on starting a church for people who don’t go to church – an intercultural church – and he had some great thoughts for me, but he also said that you would have some great thoughts for me. So, I’m wondering if I could buy you lunch, and I will ask you a few questions, and you can teach me what I need to know to plant that kind of a church. (You put yourself in the position of student and them into the position of teacher). Hardly anybody I approached said ‘no’. So, as you go from person to person to person, you need to fashion for yourself an understanding of the people you are trying to reach, and what kind of a church it is going to take to reach them.

Four groups to network before planting a church.

  1. Target Groups e.g. Local Brits, but also we want Portuguese speaking Brazilians and also Iranians… Look for people from those groups and ask your questions.

  2. Pastors & Church leaders You never want to plant a new church without telling other churches in your neighbourhood that you are starting a new church. You do this in a way that honours ‘the Veterans’. So, your approach should be ‘I’m new at this, but you’ve been pastoring a congregation for a number of years, and I’d like to learn from you.’ ‘What have been your good experiences in this city and what have been your bad experiences, that I can learn from?’

  3. Christian Organisations For example, in the 1990’s I needed to connect with an organisation that helped people with AIDS, as it was a big, big issue. Connect with Christian Organisations and Mission groups that are working with the kind of people that you are looking to see come into your church plant.

  4. Area Businesses & Shops When you know which neighbourhood you are going to meet in, then it is good to network with local businesses. Go from shop to shop and introduce yourself as someone who wants to start an intercultural church in the neighbourhood, and you want it to be of service, and for it to bring benefit and peace/shalom/well-being to the community. ‘So can the store manager tell you about the needs of this neighbourhood?’ or even, ‘what are the needs of the store? – that your church might be able to be helpful towards’ You never know, you might walk into a bakery, and find they are willing to give you their left over mini-muffins on a Saturday night for your service on a Sunday morning, and in return you advertise the bakery in your bulletin.

Adapted by Andy Mackie from our training day (Part 2) given by Stephen Beck at the May 2022 Engage West Midlands conference

GROWING THE KINGDOM - Video links How to plant multicultural, multiplying churches rapidly…

Part 1 Who can do it?

Part 2 Getting Started

Part 3 How to grow and multiply it

Part 4 Necessary Pre-requisites?

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