I remember Andy Stanley saying something along the lines of, "The reason church planting is so en vogue is that no one wants to solve other people's problems; they want to create their own problems."
Honestly, I think that he's onto something! We launched PAC Neepawa on October 18, 2015 and I've felt privileged to be in a situation where I'm not inheriting other people's problems, programs, traditions or any of 'we've always done it that way' talk.
It is very freeing to be able to start fresh, cast vision and be able to say 'no' to things because, well, you want to and aren't obligated to because of tradition or history.
It's also a bit terrifying because I'm realizing that any problems that do arise in the church as we grow is really the fault of the strengths and weaknesses as a leader. It's kinda like Dr. Henry Cloud says, in his book, Boundaries for Leaders, I am "ridiculously in charge."
This means, for better or worse, I am either creating a culture or allowing a culture to take place in the church. Even more so when the church is new and we're establishing the "feel" of the place and continuing to vision cast on a weekly basis.
One of the problems that we decided to create (and now have to solve) is what it means for community to form in our congregation.
We chose "launch" approach when starting the church; we'd open the doors to people with a Sunday service that feel like a healthy, established church. It would have ushers and greeters, strong kids ministry team, a healthy and vibrant worship music ministry, and a building that was in tip-top shape.
This was a decision that felt would allow our church to launch out of the gate instead of slowly grow year by year like many other church plants have done. We wanted people to be able to come to a church that was functional, healthy and vibrant in all the areas without having to wait for ministries to get off the ground.
You'd see the opposite approach taken where a church plant would start in someone's home until they outgrew it. Then they'd move to increasingly larger spaces as their numbers grew. The music might be lead by the pastor who also preaches, and who is required to do something for the kids too. Eventually, the church plant reaches critical mass and a larger or more permanent facility is required at which time it would have different ministry teams and departments.
We wanted to start things at the later stages of a 'traditional' church plant. In doing so, we inadvertently created a different problem to solve: we had a building, ministry teams and a Sunday service but lacked the vibrant community that a more traditional church plant would have when they would be at the same stage that we wanted to start at.
Our first service was a full one - 80 adults and 22 children. While the place was buzzing with anticipation and people were excited, the energy in the auditorium was virtually non-existent. Everyone who was there had no idea how to act, what was expected of them, if they were actually welcome, and if they were to sing, listen, sit or stand.
I got on stage and felt all the energy get sucked away by the woodenness and uncertainty of the people in attendance. We're now 4 months down the road, and the 'feel' in the building is moving from "that's a cool place to check out," to "this is my church." It's warmer, more welcoming and feeling like home.
Admittedly, this transition is much slower than I had anticipated and hoped for. But it reinforces that relationships take time. People want to know if you're trustworthy. If you'll do what you say you'll do. And they will give you lots of space to prove it.
Every church is creating their own problems - you just have to be aware that you're actually doing it and then address it accordingly. You are, after all, ridiculously in charge.
Well, now that I have my DNS and domain settings all figured out, I am able to update this site with what has been happening over the past 3-4 months as we launched our first church plant/multisite in rural Manitoba.
A LOT has happened in this time and I have a lot of notes that I've taken throughout the journey to get to this point. Our attendance hovers around 55-65 people each week, community has been building and more people are finding health and Jesus here.
The weird part is, whenever I sit down to document our journey, I'm faced with a growing sense of "I have no idea what I'm talking about."
It's not that I haven't learned anything; I have. It's not that I haven't grown and picked up some tips/tricks along the way; I've also done that. It's not that we don't have a plan, can't execute it, or can't make progress; We do and, we are. It's just that I feel less qualified to be any kind of authoritative voice as I continually walk into new and uncharted territory.
Some of my previous posts have been from written from the vacuum of theory, and as such, you can be quite sure of yourself when you don't actually have to walk out the theory you're proposing.
I'm also realizing that the stories I tell here reflect real people, real lives, real hurt, real healing. To tell some of their stories feels like a bit of betrayal of their trust because there just isn't enough distance between now and their story that I want to tell.
I also don't think that we've walked far enough on this journey to say with any certainty on what is working and what isn't in many different areas.
So as such, I sometimes sit down to type and I feel like I know less and less. I'm learning more and more, but that is only putting into perspective all that I still don't know.
Who knows, maybe I'm actually maturing and don't feel like I need to pretend like I actually know more than I do.
Due to some of my ignorance with domains, DNS, and other web-type stuff, I had some issues with having staffordgreer.com operational. It looks like things have all gotten all straightened out and I'll be able to update some of what has happened in the first 3 months of doing this rural-multisite thing!
I am a pastor in rural Manitoba that is passionate about the church, leadership, coffee and bicycles.