A study I stumbled across from Europe has got me thinking. The report shares some interesting findings from this European study you can request here if you want to look at it. It’s pretty short.
One thing I would like to quote here is this:
Based on our observation and the interviews we held with network leaders, we see three kinds of simple church networks:
(a) Apostolic networks: simple church groups started by an apostolic worker ‘straight in the harvest’, mostly along the lines of the instructions Jesus gave his disciples in Luke 10 (planting a new simple church group in a household/social circle instead of inviting people to an existing church meeting). These networks are primarily made up of new believers who just heard about Jesus, are being discipled, and win others to plant new groups.
(b) Bridge networks: simple church groups made up of existing Christians who intentionally seek to be ‘missional’. They try to build relationships with non-believers, often using conventional forms of evangelism and a ‘come to us’ approach.
(c) Christian networks: simple church groups formed by existing Christians who mainly seek a more relational and participatory alternative for conventional church. These groups tend to be inward-focused and sometimes reactionary: seeing their way of church as more biblical and healthy than the churches they come from.
Of these three kind of networks (a) is most effective in mission and reproduction, and (c) the least, with (b) being on a learning curve.
When I shared this with a friend, here is what he said, referring to (c):
Makes sense why many of our brothers feel like the church would die if we went to the home… it would die, according to the study, if it went to the home WITH all of the other, umm, traditions.
That is why the building is key, I think.
The building is the advertisement for “Recycled Christians” (that’s a term the study used for, in effect, church hoppers). It’s not un-believers who show up randomly on Sundays, sitting on the back row, but believers. That also brings up “our” view of being saved. Not that we know Jesus, but that we agree on several key issues. I think most view saving someone as that, so they honestly think we are growing the church when we convince a believe of our ways.
That is going to be a huge hurdle, if it is the case.