A common mistake seen among church replanters is their failure to do the hard work of discerning the starting point of their church. If the church replanter fails to grasp the starting point then their plans and ideas are often unhelpful and typically face resistance.
The difficulty of determining the starting point is compounded by language. For example, the replanter often hears members of the congregation stating their agreement with the replanter’s assessment that the church needs to grow. However, often their definitions of growth are very different. For some members, growth means bringing in just enough people to meet the budget but no more, since they like a very small church and the type of community that a small church brings them. For others, it means more people attend but not changing anything about the church or the worship service. For others, growth means going back to the glory days of old and re-introducing programs and ideas that worked fifty years ago. However, almost always the replanter’s definition of growth is radically different.
Another difficulty that impedes understanding the church’s starting point is generational values and fears. The typically replanter is younger and values what is new, hip and leverages technology. The average member of a replant church is typically older and values stability, control and history. There is deep meaning attached to each item in the church, to each event and each part of the event or service. Unless, the replanter understands, both intellectually and emotionally, the value system of those in the church, he or she is going to miss the real starting point.
If the replanter is going to grasp the actual starting point of the church, they are going to have to spending lots of time with individual members of the church. It will take many hours of listening to their stories, dialoging with them about the church and community until the starting point will begin to take shape. It is not something the replanter can just think through, it takes prayer, input from others and the Holy Spirit giving insight.
Discovering the starting point of a replant church is time consuming and difficult but what is the alternative?