An apostolic pattern of church planting

One of the ingredients of a church planting movement is that it will be apostolic: that is, it will involve sent communities that go to people. ‘Apostle’ means ‘sent one’. They were at street level. They grew not by advertising their services on noticeboard and opening their doors each Sunday morning. They grew through relationships.


People talk about ‘attractional church’ meaning a ‘come to our meetings’ model. We put on events to attract people to come. We expect people to come to where we feel comfortable and they feel uncomfortable. These communities were not like that. They went to people. It’s very easy for us to put on events that suit us at locations that suit us and at times that suit us. But to reach a neighbourhood or community of people, we need to:

  • eat their food
  • play their games
  • hear their stories
  • walk their streets
  • enter their homes
  • follow their timetable
  • inhabit their spaces

Third places

The Crowded House was founded with a conviction that ‘home’ provided a great location for church in contemporary Britain. But even our homes can be safe places for us and alien for others. After all, we follow a Saviour who had no home. I still believe in homes. Homes can become places where people feel they belong. Moreover, it does not have to be my home. We should look to plant churches in the homes of new converts. That way contextualised will happen more naturally. But we also need to move mission outside of church buildings and outside of Christian homes.

People take about ‘third places’. The first place is my home, the second is my work. Third places are everywhere else people congregate and socialise: café, gyms, clubs, pubs and so on. Jesus had no home, but he came eating and drinking! Look for venues where people eat and drink.

We need to get to know our neighbourhoods. We need to carry with us profiles of typical people so that they become the natural people we dialogue in our thinking, and teaching.

Attractional community rather than attractional meetings

But I want to retain the word ‘attractional’. We need attractional communities, not in the sense of a ‘come to our meeting’, but in the sense of a loving, vibrant shared live that attracts the world. The genius of New Testament theology was that it combined an Old Testament centripetal missiology with centrifugal movement.


9 thoughts on “An apostolic pattern of church planting

  1. Pingback: Coffee Break « fresh expressions…

  2. Pingback: are you missioning in the ‘third places’? « shane’s blog

  3. I love what I’m reading; I’m in Barbados in the West Indies, and in the Church plant which my husband and I recently initiated, God is doing a new thing in awakening our hearts and minds to the whole question of missional living. We have literally moved into one of our communities and even though we are currently small, our desire is to build relationships with those around us whom we want to reach. I think that it is so important to do this with the right spirit and motivation. We must never think or come across as though we are superior or attempting to manipulate others into our fellowships and therefore we are “doing good”. We must be motivated by a genuine love and compassion because we see people as God sees them; and this is His mission to the world operationalized through us; it’s really never about us.

  4. Any clues on how to help those in a traditional model church equip their members for this sort of ministry? (I’ve only just stumbled onto your page – just let me know if you’ve mentioned it elsewhere).

  5. No many! That’s why I love church planting!

    One idea I know others have tried is a to work with just one house group and turn it into a missional community with a mandate to do for itself everything that church does. A friend of mine who did this found other groups clamouring to be next.

    Some of the audio here might help:

Comments are closed.