Jun 12, 2014
neil

A life of its own – how a city movement multiplies churches

At our 2020birmingham conference last week I outlined 14 different reasons why UK cities would benefit from city-wide church planting movements and in an earlier post I outlined the first 7 reasons. Here we look at reasons 8-14.

8. The quickest way to reach a city is through a church planting movement of self-reproducing churches.

Churches typically plant churches in isolation, although some churches or networks may be able to plant small organic networks within a city.  To reach a city requires a church-planting movement that can only be created by concerted collaboration between churches and networks over a period of time.

Reaching a city requires a self-sustaining movement of church-planting churches, something that has a life of its own. Movement dynamics are only generated and sustained when plants are happening in sufficient number which generates a tipping-point for planting.  To change the metaphor what is needed is a concerted effort to generate enough ‘heat’ to sustain a movement.  In most UK cities that won’t happen unless we reach outside of existing partnerships to work together. Momentum develops as a city network accelerates church-planting and creates a culture of planting across the churches that becomes infectious and as churches plant, share resources, ideas, recruit planters, train interns most quickly through a vibrant city-network.

9. We can work strategically to reach the whole city when we work in collaboration

Reaching new communities and thinking how to reach more challenging communities can best be done together.  In Birmingham the challenge of establishing  gospel-communities for every section of society and every people-group seems too big for us as busy churches and pastors – creative collaboration helps overcome inertia when it comes to the bigger challenges.

10. City networks invite and promote partnership with non-Church planting churches

Churches that would not identify themselves as church-planting churches have a role to play in a city network.

  • Adopting a church-plant: prayer, giving, sending, training leaders

It also helps partner churches consider whether they might be able to church plant themselves.

11. Working together in cities is a powerful witness to the gospel

Jesus prayed in John 17:20 ‘My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.’

12. Working together develops a healthy gospel mind-set that trains your congregation to live with gospel priorities

Working with churches that differ from you on secondary issues requires three gospel qualities.

A generosity of spirit – working wherever we can with gospel churches

Invisibility’ – City movements do not ‘own’ the church-plants but instead bless and work alongside planters and their plants. That is something that happens quietly and behind the scenes. Members of the plant may not even be very aware of the support and help the planter is receiving. In Birmingham the ‘2020’ label does not appear

Kingdom mind-set – We must get the gospel out and rather than seeing other churches as unwelcome rivals we rejoice in the work the Lord is doing through planting across a city.

13. Working together is a massive encouragement to our congregations

Our experience in Birmingham has been that congregations thrive when churches work together. Many Christians long for greater unity across the churches and

14. Working at a city level allows for local, flexible expressions of partnership

City movement will need to look different from one city to the next. The model for such movements allow for a high degree of flexibility.

1 Comment

  • Neil,

    These are great articles, and very helpful. Although not in a city we have been struck by the power in working together with other local assemblies, especially those with whom we disagree on secondary issues. Christians and non-Christians frequently comment on this.

    I would recommend that you listen to this teaching on working together, I am all for the idea, but this really moved me to think about it more.
    http://www.preachtheword.com/sermon/acts04.shtml

    Keep up the good work!

    Simon

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