Exploring a possible church plant

As many of you know, my wife, Kelley, and I moved back to California earlier this year, returning from over 13 years of ministering in Puerto Rico. Looking strictly at circumstances, it would seem the economic situation in Puerto Rico forced this move. But we believe God is sovereign over circumstances, and that the timing of this change was—and is—in his hands. The church there has transitioned from being overly dependent on one paid elder/pastor to being served by three unpaid, bi-vocational elder/pastors (along with others stepping up to do their part in ministry). They are now realizing the level of team leadership and teaching to which we always aspired. Although it was sad for us to leave, this is a good and healthy change.

imagesAs for us, we’re now in Placerville, CA (between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe). The transition for us hasn’t been as smooth as we had hoped. Over the past few months, we’ve had trouble finding good jobs, finding a place to live, and dealing with ministry opportunities that didn’t pan out. But we still trust God’s timing and believe that he has been working through these circumstances. We’re praying for wisdom and the sensitivity to be aware of any guidance God is giving us.

We’re prayerfully considering planting a church in the Placerville area. Some have asked me what a new church would look like (whether here or somewhere else). So I’ve written out four core commitments I see as essential for a new church. I’ll post them here one at a time. I’m not implying that these commitments would be unique to us. Some could prove to distinguish us from other churches, but this isn’t really the intent. The idea is that these four core commitments, together, would constitute the DNA of a new church. All other distinctive strategies and methods we might develop would be built on the foundation of these core commitments.

You may notice these posts don’t include a detailed description or vision for this new church. This is intentional. As you read through these commitments (or if you’ve read many of my posts on church leadership), you’ll see why for me to plan out in detail my vision for a church plant—and then look for people who will support my unique vision—would be contradictory. It’s not that I don’t have a vision or a lot of ideas for a new church! But the plan is to first establish a consistently biblical vision for a church plant. Then, as a team, we can brainstorm how to best apply these biblical principles to our specific context. The comment threads of these posts are a great place for this kind of discussion!

8 thoughts on “Exploring a possible church plant

  1. Thanks for the feedback, guys.

    RWL, we came to California because this is where we’re from. (We’re not from the Placerville area, though. This is new to us.) California is what we know, and our families are mostly on the West Coast. But we’re certainly open to other places. For us to consider some place else though, we’d need to see God opening the door there and providing a clear, real opportunity for ministry and service where we’re a good fit.

    Ted, Cold Springs Church is a very nice group of believers. We’ve met their lead pastor, David Cooke. He was very warm and encouraging to us. But he is the lead pastor there. I could attend a church with a senior or lead pastor, but I couldn’t become involved in a teaching ministry or any kind of leadership there. It would be contrary to my convictions, and it just wouldn’t be appropriate, especially considering my many blog posts and years of teaching about the normative, biblical model being one of churches led by teams of pastoral elders with no senior or lead pastor.

  2. Sure wish you had moved to Alabama! Still holding strong and running the race. Thank you, Curt! Praying God sends workers that will fill Gis vision for your church. Wish you were closer, that’s a long commute!

  3. Curt – I understand, I do. And sorry for calling you Carl!

    But you are looking to plant a church suitable to your convictions, and to me, that contradicts this:

    “We will strive for complete unity regarding the essential truths of the gospel, and provide as much freedom as possible concerning secondary issues. We’ll only take a definitive position on debated, secondary issues when it’s necessary for mutual fellowship and ministry as a church.”

    Are you familiar with the apostolic doctrine of ecclesiastical schism taught in 1 Corinthians?

  4. No problem, Ted. To quote part of what you quoted, I wrote:

    We’ll only take a definitive position on debated, secondary issues when it’s necessary for mutual fellowship and ministry as a church.

    So this doesn’t mean never taking a position on secondary issues, but only when it’s “necessary for mutual fellowship and ministry as a church.” For instance, a church has to have some position on speaking in tongues. You can’t operate with leaders holding blatantly contradictory views. One view will end up the default position, which will functionally exclude the other(s). The same goes for issues such as infant baptism, distinctive gender roles in ministry, etc.

    I’m familiar with the divisiveness of the church in Corinth and how Paul addressed this in his writing to them. Unfortunately, the church has been in a schismatic state, to varying degrees, throughout most of its history. Ironically, groups that were started to try to somehow alleviate this problem and leave behind a divided church end up becoming new denominations (i.e. recognized, distinct subgroups) that add to the division.

    This is a huge issue and worthy of much prayer, reflection and discussion. I feel the divided state of the church should grieve all of us, and I long for the day when we are truly one. But we can’t simply ignore almost two millennia of church history and expect everyone to just seamlessly be one. We should not have a schismatic spirit, but the reality is local churches identified at least partly by their theological differences. If there was only one church in each city (as it was originally), I would seek to be part of that church even if my convictions differed on secondary issues. But when we already exist in a state of division, wisdom dictates IMO that we seek fellowships where we can serve in good conscience. To do otherwise could actually detract from the unity within a particular local church.

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