thoughts on future-planting (WWyouD)


Hey guys,

I’m under the pompous assumption that many of you desire to one day elder/pastor a church. Recently, a few of us have talked about keeping a list of things we may want to see/do in a possible plant. Now, the goal is not to be overly critical of where the Lord currently has us, nor is it to assume that we’ll one day be in a position to put our ideas into practice, but rather to share some thoughts on structure and method from the standpoint of biblical ecclesiology. The title is the question, if you were planting, what are some things you would absolutely want to see happen, not necessarily hills to die on, but convictions strong enough to try?


15 responses to “thoughts on future-planting (WWyouD)

  1. 1. Speed metal worship

    2. More youth games – like the one where we bob for baby ruths from the toilets filled with mountain dew. Games with the giant athletic ball are way fun too.

    Ok… enough already.

    1. Lord’s Supper every week.

    2. Always hire from within when possible – raise up your own leaders.

    3. No one goes off to seminary without being affirmed by the body (can’t be too controlling with this, but just an ideal)

    4. Limited church budget and activities so that people spend money and time on the poor (not that this can’t be done through the church) and hang out with unsaved people instead of constantly going to church activities. Limit the feeding of the ministry monster.

    5. Seminary training for all pastors AND elders.

    That’s all for now, much more to say, but have to take a nap.

  2. I’ll answer my own post, why not? sucka!

    1, Lord’s day would include: education time, the word/sacrament of the great assembly, AND a lunch fellowship afterward…thus, we consolidate time and we do it all, learn, rejoice, and eat.

    2, Service, both individual and corporate, is huge. I love the idea of having corporate service opportunities for the body at least once a month.

    3, Agree with Z that we don’t want to overwhelm. Consolidation, integration, and inclusion are key…thus, ‘YOUTH ministry’ turns into Parent-Student ministry, where kids get some time on their own too, but parents are the pirmary pastoral contacts. I’m not a full ‘family integrationist,’ some segregation is good, but there must be balance…thus, Wed night is a time when each group has its own deal, and we do some corporate stuff too…as to not overwhelm, The Lord’s day and wed. night are the main corporate meetings times, both include food so we don’t burden families…and both include an emphasis on one-ness as a foundation for any diversity that exists.

    4, Missions, missional, etc…is this a church or a mission? YES. Is this camp or a mission trip? YES. Word, body, and service as overarching themes in all we do.

    5, Community…it cannot be forced, but comes organically through having a common confession, relational (not necess. geographic) proximity, and a common goal; God’s kingdom.

  3. Great question, sir. Let me preface my remarks with the fact that I am headed (Lord willing) into a place (Helsinki, Finland) where I would be very stoked to have 50 total people attending in about 3-5 years after the start. That would be *amazing*.

    1. A mix of age groups—the opposite of the Homogenous Unit Principle approach.

    2. A location that is stable with a congregation that *wants* to be stable around it. Sort of a parish-model in an ultra-mobile society as a witness to the certain eternity of the Kingdom.

    3. Psalm singing. Oh how I hate bad rock and roll, and will likely hate it even more in a foreign language. Folks need to know that old things are good too (like traditions and senior citizens).

    4. [Perhaps] The Second Service. Ever since I heard RSC talk about this Reformed/Presbyt. practice, I have really liked the idea. Mainly for serious education and food, with Wed. evening for fellowship and service together.

    5. Catechisms. I have absolutely no idea if this is feasible, or if the modern Western brain even functions in this way anymore. The payoff would be *huge* though.

    6. Ecumenical participation. This is different in Europe, I think, than here and it is a key part of Finnish church life and attitudes. Currently, the Finnish-speaking Baptist Union does not hold a set on the council (by choice) and thus is keeping itself separate from the ‘conversation’ (a Trueman-esque soul-patch of a word if there ever was one). I think that it cannot do that anymore if it is to be a viable church there; and this will require serious theological thinking on a level that the free churches there simply have not worked on. Pray that we can get there this generation.

    I could go on and on, I suppose. Any thoughts on those? Last thing: I’d encompass the whole of church life there in the Two Kingdoms doctrine 🙂 (*ducks for cover*).

  4. Nice Post Schnee! Here’s my take:

    1. Gospel Centered Expository Preaching – Teaching Elder preaches 5 of 8 times a couple months; other elders preach the other 3 (this provides opportunities to grow other teachers in the body, while limiting the cult of personality)

    2. Keep the building small and keep it to one service. If you need a second service, you need another plant. (now I don’t think you need to limit the building size, but I think 200 – 500 is ideal)

    3. Missional Communities = I disagree with you here Greg, I think that community is not pretty and is not real if it is just a slice of the affinity pie. A community looks like the community you live in and thus, I think geography drives these groups. It also sets the stage for saturating a city with churches, as each missional community becomes a new church. There are some difficulties with this I know, but I think the benefits out weigh them. The bottom line is these communities exist not for Bible Study and fellowship, but for mission – lives united together around the mission of being a neighbor and loving the city. this is the fuel for all community and ultimately all community is for the purpose of mission.

    4. Ministry training school working in cohoots with the seminary. I think that the local church should continually have the vision of raising up new elders and deacons/deaconesses who have seminary training. I think instead of pawning this off to the seminary, churches partner with the seminary sending students for possibly languages and some exegetical classes while developing a training school in house for theology, history, practical theology (preaching, counseling, missions). The later should have a redemptive historical bent and a missional focus. How does all of this make us live on mission in community believing the Gospel together.

    5. Lastly, I try to make my church not an attraction…in the sense of the corporate gatherings or programs (what programs), but I want the people and the changed lives and most ultimately Christ to be the attraction.

    That’s about it. We can dream can’t we.


  5. There are some great thoughts in here guys. I really appreciate the keep-the-building-small and plant as you outgrow it. I was asked about this very issue recently and I told them the same thing. You do what a healthy cell does, divide.

    On the Lord’s Supper issue, I’ve been in so many churches where the Lord’s Supper was just something else you did on some Sundays (as quickly as possible between songs and announcements). It was not treated with the awe, respect, and self-examination that it deserved.

    I have never seen the Lord’s Supper treated so respectfully and specially as it is with the once a month on Wednesday nights. I absolutely love it.

    The training and raising up the elders from within, and training cooperation between seminaries and the churches… all great stuff. I think the guys at Founders and Sov. Grace are on to something there.

  6. Its hard say anything good because all of you have already said a lot that is on my mind. None the less, here are some of my idealistic thoughts on some characteristics a church plant should or could have:

    1) I agree with our elder sage, Justin Edgar, that a church should be geographical focused. With this ideal in mind I think it is important to geographical networking of other churches in that area. We need to have a “One and Holy Catholic Church” in practice and not just ethereal thoughts. This even means locking arms with churches that are outside our usual frame of reference (i.e. methodist, baptist, presbos, Joel Osteen-esque , pentecostal, etc.) We need to act in one Spirit if we are to really make an impact in this world.

    2) I know Greg and I have talked about this (and I am agreeing with Edgar again) but I do want to have multiple preachers rotating in out. As long as there supply of those gifted with teaching and preaching. It would allow us to be more holistic in our pastoral abilities and give more thought and prayer to our sermons.

    3) I think the leaders of the church should be more like the author of Hebrews. He was anonymous in name and title, but he was clearly a leader in passion, love of the word, and his pastoral care of his people. He was ontologically defined not semantically. A practical way this could play out in a church would be that a pastor doesn’t sit at the front of the service before he preaches, but he sits somewhere in the middle with random people. Maybe he can even sit by a new person he hasn’t recognized. This communicates that he is not more important then the rest of the body, but just plays his role within it.

    3) Without saying it would be missional.

    4) We would allow the surrounding community (both saved and unsaved) to participate in God’s mission. For example, we could ask for the help of the surrounding neighborhoods with some kind of natural disaster relief. This would be a good way for them to become involved with our church and also show that the Church is a beautiful part of redemption. This is in contrast to just having the people of our church give of themselves.

    5) As far as music. Strictly Gregorian chant. Or not. I think it will be important for us to produce our own music as much as possible. This allows are people to sing from their own lives in response to God’s presence.

    6) I am agreement with everybody else on the importance of the sacraments.

    7) I am also in agreement with the whole idea of organic community. We need to teach people about the importance of fellowship around the dinner table. People need to learn to be hospitable and let people share in their lives. This is a reason why the sabbath has been such a beautiful thing historically. I weekly time to share about God’s goodness with family, friends, and a crock pot.

    I don’t think I added much. These are just some random thoughts. Definitely not the most well thought out. But I am sure when the reality of church planting hits that it will be interesting to see how our thoughts pan out in reality.

  7. GREAT stuff guys. Wow. I can’t wait to do some planting with all of you some day. I am honestly honored to hear your thoughts and see your pastoral hearts coming through. Justins (x2) I was looking through some of Caite’s DSC photo books last night…how far we’ve come. Ha.

    On community…let me clarify, although I have no prob with some disagreement ;). Geography vs. Relation as the central foci of member involvement. Coming from the the servant of suburban church, let me express my frustration at how hard it is to have geographic unity…gosh. At the same time, we do have a static building and we SHOULD have ministry that affects the surrounding ‘geographic’ areas. We feel this tension in a real way, telling people to serve as individuals throughout the week in the four corners of ABQ, then thinking through how we can do corporate service in a specific way in our own community…but what is our community? The site of the building, or where people live, well, all of the above. I WISH we had old-fashioned urban centers, or even closed off rural communities, but this is a huge hurdel for those of us who wish to contextualize. So, to elaborate on my prior thoughts, I think we need to strive for a BOTH/AND scenario.

    The people of the church are, in the 21st century sprawy, often tied together by both geography AND relationship…hence, we do corporate service (that is mission) that takes both aspects into account. I love Justin R.’s thoughts on engaging the lost community in humanitarian efforts, plus teach people to be missionaries whether they work on base, at honeywell, or live in the east mountains.

    Love you guys, more thoughts…this will help us all in years to come.


  8. Here is another one that I have thought about that would be serious counter-cultural. What if the senior pastor didn’t have the biggest office? I know, I know he has tons of books, but what would it communicate if me the music pastor and the church janitor had the same size office, or the janitor had a nicer one than me? What would this communicate to the outside world about the upside down ethics of the Kingdom? Radical, I know. I think that’s the point. What a great structural reminder that leaders are servants. We need more of this I think in our rock star church cultures. I love the idea that if you are getting to big for one service then it’s time to plant. Great idea.

  9. Great stuff fellas!!! I ditto most of the stuff for sures.

    Here is my view:

    1. Missional, not a “catch phrase” but it is how we live, to spread and follow Jesus in all of life. To STOP thinking of missions as just overseas, and start thinking of it as life here and now as well as overseas.

    2. Attractional AND Incarnational- Our services are done with a sense of reverance and yes it looks like time has been spent with practice, lighting, cleaning, and even stage set up. We do not put a circus in front of the Mona Lisa (Matt King quote) but we also don’t throw the Mona Lisa into a garage sale.

    3. Lord’s Supper everyweek, worked in Acts.

    4. Simplify ministries, cut out para churches, and work to equip our members to be on the campus, be in the lives of their kids, be near the water cooler. Instead of having a buffet of ministries to join they actually have time out in the world.

    5. I totally agree with Edgar and the training up of young men, partner with seminaries for languages and exegesis, but the main training comes from the elders of the church. Seminary not a pre-req to become a pastor, time in the world is.

    6. The diversity of your church has to echo the diversity of your city.

    7. Reproducing church, Plant to plant more, within the first 18 months of planting, another church plant should be sent out.

    8. Music- eh, hymns, contemporary, who cares now a days about style, I mean really, as long as it is done with undistracting excellence and proclaims the Gospel, i.e. No Prom Songs to Jesus!!!

    9. Seeks the welfare of the community, is a church that makes it worthwhile for the city to “lose” that piece of land to a tax exempt non profit religious group.

    10. From the Pulpit there is no tolerance for bubble Christianity, this has to come from the Top down!!!

    That is all I can think of, you guys had already added a lot to the mix….

  10. I can’t help myself.

    1, Please take 30 minutes and listen to Dave Bruskus’ sermon from DSC this morning. He is pastor of City on a Hill and helped us kick off our missions emphasis week ( This is one of the best sermons I’ve ever heard on mission and following Christ. Legit.

    Secondly, on the note of radical ministry, I’d love to suggest, with Zach and the Justins, that everything we do, from teaching, to pastoral staff, to office structure, ‘preaches’ the intrusion ethics of God’s kingdom…that Jesus did not come to be served but to serve…and this paradigmatic hermeneutic for our entire lives must remain evident in all areas of ministry.

    So, perhaps we have a multiple ‘teaching elder’ staff, and each man has a tent-making job as well, not just for extra money, but to meet people, + the pluraity of teaching elders would also represent a pluality of ages. I’ve talked this over with an elder at our church who mentioned how he’d love to see the multiple teacher model done with both older AND younger guys.

    Second, corporate service…what a beautiful concept. We serve as individuals, but how cool to imagine a church that is identified (in the community) as one that serves as a BODY.

    Word, Sacraments, Discipline…all in the context of relationships and service.

    I guess we’ll have to wait a few years for this to be come a reality, but its nice to know we’re all on the same page before we start uprooting our families.

  11. I’d thought of one other thing too. Longer sermons… more emphasis on the exposition of the Word. (Dever’s sermons I’m listening to are over an hour each… overkill?)

    What do you think of the multiple campus version with the multiple elders rotating through them? I think the only way this is legit is if there is also a stable core of elders at each location for pastoring. It would allow pastors more time to immerse themselves in those texts for longer periods, then deliver them at multiple locations… I’m sure there are down sides too.

    Is the concept of “senior pastor” biblical? Is “pastor” a biblical office? I believe the answer to both is no. Rather, “pastor” is a job description for an elder.

    Since I’m in the minority on this one, let me ask:

    Is it a leap to equate the breaking of bread together (eating) on the Lord’s Day in Acts as taking the Lord’s Supper every week?

    Would you be prepared to give the Lord’s Supper the time and prep it deserves each week? Call the people to self-examination, etc.? During the Sunday morning service? I think it is possible, but the tendency will be to start taking it for granted. I know our miserable hearts.

  12. Greg made a great statement above: that the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, that this should be a guiding hermeneutic for much of our church life. I agree. The implications of this for the ‘divine service’ are huge, though: shouldn’t the Sunday service be mainly about God serving his people, and thus our ‘liturgy’ (order, content of preaching, content of song, decisions about the Supper) should be guided largely by this insight. Going to a nominal Lutheran country has forced me to try and understand it, and I love that many times the minister is there with the understanding that he is to speak to and serve God’s people as Christ, as a mask of God serving his people. This would force our preaching, singing and receiving in the direction of reflection on what God *has* done in the past, and what he *will* do in the future (like Peter in 1 Pet. 1).

    Also, since I attend a ‘multiple-campus’ church with one preacher, I’ll vote for “Meh” on that item. I have no real solution to Bethlehem’s wonderful problem of lots of members, but the experience of only seeing your preacher in the flesh once every three weeks is tedious. Yet, to have unified teaching across the campuses from north to south is very beneficial, and having one eldership governing is important as well. If you are going to have one church with 2,000 members, then by all means spread them out across campuses. If you then think you should have more than one ‘preaching’ teaching elder on a regular basis, maybe you should just break off each campus into a free-standing church. All of our elders (I think) could (and do) preach very well, so I am not worried about not having such a wonderful preacher at the pulpit every Sunday.

    To the last comment: is it a bad thing to do something on a weekly, routine basis even if people do take it for granted? In other words, does a practice have to be fresh or exciting *every single time* to justify its routine occurrence? To me, (and I could be wrong about this) this seems like a bit of a cultural preference, one that says repetition is drudgery and if the heart feels like something is pointless, then it necessarily is so. The Japanese (I think) would long for some sort of routine that they could be comfortable inside, something that they could count on for stability.

    Our hearts *are* miserable, yet that happily does not make the Supper meaningless. Pastor John made a great point of this idea this morning: just because we feel something is irrelevant to our lives, does not make it irrelevant. Preaching justification by faith alone may feel irrelevant to us, but it surely is not. The Supper is likely the same.

  13. Re: Multi-Campus

    “Multiple campus with one preacher” is a non-starter for me as well. Is this one of those jumbo-tron set ups? I think this whole set up implies too much reliance on a single personality.

    My preacher is the one my elders see fit to put in the pulpit that week.

    Re:Lords Supper

    Good points Matt! It is easy to allow our feelings about it inappropriately affect our view of it.

    You’ve addressed the “it ain’t about how I feel about it” aspect of it. Now, what about giving it the respect it is due? Would you be prepared to commit the necessary time, each Sunday, to do it right? If so, great. I think the “don’t you dare keep me in a church service more than 1:15” attitude needs to go anyway.

    I don’t know if something we are charged to do “in season and out of season” is a fair comparison to that which we are called to do “as often as you drink it…”

  14. Great thoughts guys and I affirm the good thought in each post. I am with ragsdale about Multi-campus. I love Piper, but I think the multi-site, like Driscoll, Chandler and a pletora of others puts forth the cult of personality. Churches who are personality driven, and I realize Bethlehem may not fully be so, are one tragedy from extinction. The word on the street is that one large reformed congregation had to take out a multi-million dollar insurance policy on their pastor, because if he were to become incapacitated, then the multi-site church would lose everything, members, monies and buildings…the other obvious problem is that it fails to equip and raise other planters in that same city who can saturate a city with the Gospel and Gospel people.

    As far as communion, my thoughts is that communion is more of a substantial meal with symbolic meaning than a symbolic meal with substantial meaning. Most churches practice the latter. They don’t eat a meal, they eat what symbolizes a meal. If we look at 1 Corinthians 11, the context is clearly focusing on those who were rich failing to wait and share with those in the body who were slaves or poor. The examination is one in which we must heal divisions and we must share. We have taken the examination to mean, are we sinful, have I sinned, have I not confessed something…this is not the intent of the Scrip – it is centered on those who practiced gluttony and forgot others in the body. This is because they practiced a substantial feast when they took communion. The elder or host would break bread and point to Christ and his death and then he would take wine – real wine, with alcoholic content – and hold up the cup and toast in joy to the blood of Christ which covers our sins and in which we boast. I think we should recover these things: the substantive feast together as a body, the consideration and examination of division within the body that must be repented of and lastly the joy and revelry that undoubtedly surrounded the meal of the saints. We must regain the ability to party and live with joy. To practice this sort of thing monthly or weekly or quarterly = then we must make things smaller, more accessible and more real.


    PS: Greg I still don’t know how to enter a post, not that I have something to post. I can comment, but that’s about it.

  15. and the winner is:

    Dr. Cult-ural Pardigm shift.

    To synthesize in my post-posterton way:
    1, People need to come to church for more time on the Lord’s day. See Voddie Baucham for a great example. There is education, long sermons, and a wonderful time of eating/examination together as a family…imagine this going from 9am to 2pm. You still have time to get the game, but nothing gets sacrificed. Of course, this assumes one service and one united congregation who worships together, as a family, and then serves the same way.

    Carolyn Rush asked a great question: Is the church a mission or is the mission a Church. YES. Inreach and outreach must be balanced, the word primary, and corporate service a priority.

    This is all very idealistic, but I want it all…the nice thing about planting, is that you could *START* with all this stuff already in mind. A sold liturgy, intergenerational-love, food AND examination, hardcore preaching, multi eldership (who are also tent-making as well, think, teaching a class or two at UNM)…and on the list goes of beautiful possibilities.

    This would truly be costly, missional, transformational, reforming, and sound…its calling a people to do more than 60 minutes on the Lord’s day + teaching them to effect change in their local (vocational? relational?) spheres of influence.

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