Sure, everyone wants to hear from God about where or among whom He is calling them to plant, but people seem to hear Him through various lenses. In recent years, this seems to be shifting.
For most of the 30+ years I have worked in church starting settings, planters have gravitated towards affinity. They look for people and places to plant based on commonalities–same language, interests, life stage, or common need. They have been attracted to geographies based on homogenous affinity groups.
Some of the places perceived ideal places to plant churches have been large, new growth suburban communities that appeal to people from the same socioeconomic background who all want to send their children to fabulous suburban schools. They started cowboy, biker, and surfer churches plus Spanish, Chinese, and Filipino language churches.
Other planters determine where they start churches out of a kingdom calling to reach the least reached. This has become more common in the last decade with the recovery of kingdom orientation and the advent of missional church thinking.
Prospective planters read articles about least evangelized areas, and are up for the hard work of planting in the tough places, either in North America or around the globe. This is sometimes paired with affinity based planting in as much as an unreached people group is a particular kind of affinity group.
More recently, younger planters sometimes long for a kind of parish model based on geography. They have discovered that geography can help bring about community, so they choose places with walkable downtowns, bike friendly streets and excellent transportation systems.
Millennials are moving to urban areas to recover community, and some of them are church planters. At the same time, a subset of this group has a preference for diversity. This includes ethnic, racial, socio-economic and generational diversity. This is a radical shift in the church planting scenery.
Finally, some younger planters are drawn to relationally based church planting. House church multiplication is one indicator of this, but so is the growing tendency of planters to “bloom where they are planted”.
Church planters are going back home, wherever home is, to reconnect relationally with family and friends, and to start churches among people with whom they already have strong ties. They are not necessarily trying to start indigenous churches, but certainly this is the result.
So what’s your lens? How will you determine where and among whom God wants you to plant?
Discover more organizing principles in a V3 Learning Cohort Photo credit Pink Moose
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