I just had lunch with the gentleman doing the in-town church plant in conjunction with my church. He had expressed some things he did not like about the way church is done here and ways he would like to do things differently with the plant, but I had no idea how deep his misgivings really went. Today he brought up our complete lack of depth and the worshitainment* we do on Sunday morning that tends to only nominally include the Bible, and the fact that we as a staff never get into the Bible together. (The most we do is pray at staff meetings, and that is normally focused on specific prayer requests.) He pointed out our lack of growth both numerically and in the spiritual maturity of our congregation, which is what has sent alarm bells ringing in my head in the past.
Now, in my mind, the most interesting part is how the plant is being viewed by him and by our church, and by extension our denomination. I've noted in the past how his vision seems to be a significant departure from the way our senior pastor describes his vision for our multi-site approach. The planter wants a worshipful, Bible-plumbing church that is deeper, more spiritually mature and that has a stronger commitment to the Gospel than it does to being relevant. Whereas our senior pastor and the head of church plants for our denomination has gone so far as to suggest the church plant be a video venue** for the senior pastor's sermons. As he pointed out, our lack of numerical growth kind of indicates that what we're doing isn't really working, so why should we try to make an exact copy in your plant? All 3 of them have a meeting tomorrow and the CP says he is going to address these issues and state in no uncertain terms that he will not be reproducing a carbon copy of this church because he cannot get on board with what we do here. I asked him what he would do if the respective positions were too far apart and no compromise could be reached and he said he didn't know. What I do know is that his denominational financing will be running out and our church can't afford to finance this church plant on its own, so it may end up being a on/off kind of thing with no middle ground.
I cannot tell you how much relief I feel knowing that someone else on staff shares our concerns and problems with this place. The CP is a very mature, dedicated, prayerful man, so it encourages me to a great extent that he shares my misgivings. But damn! we had just resolved ourself to staying here for a couple of years and now I'm wondering if that was the right decision.
*I don't know if anyone has ever used that word before (someone probably has) but dang if I dont' like it! I may need to look into a copyright or something. :)
**For those of you who don't know, a video venue is a site that plays a tape, either of a complete service or just the sermon, to a group. Some churches have experienced good success with the video venue approach. Personally, I think it is antithetical to what church is about and should be avoided except under very specific situations that render it better than nothing.