When Mark Driscoll came to Sydney, he told us (us Anglicans, that is) that we were too slow and too English to be entrepreneurial church planters.
Interesting, then, that it’s been Total Church, a book by a couple of English guys, which has fanned into flame the sputtering embers of my passion for church planting.
I really like their idea that church planting is not just the job for a macho, omnicompetent guy who’s young, maybe not deeply theologically trained and has a kind of ‘mover and shaker’ personality. Church planting is a job for all of us.
It’s when every church member pitches in and serves according to their gifts and as there’s need that church planting really gets going. Of course, this can be slow and hard and even a bit … mundane (especially after the initial excitement of doing something ‘new’ wears off).
But it’s where we start working with the grain of the NT vision of church.
Which is where Total Church really comes into its own. It makes us reflect on what church is and what we should be on about. Without making church everything, it helps us see how it fits into the gospel story.
And it’s all about the way we tell the story. We only get the place of the church in salvation-history in focus when we recognise that God’s achievement in Jesus fulfils his longstanding intention to redeem, gather and sanctify a people for himself.
This is the beating — gospel, community, and missional — heart of the NT vision of church, within which there’s plenty of scope for different models of church government and polity.
(Although never mentioned in the pages of Total Church, there seem to be strong connections between this and Tom Wright’s work — e.g., his discussion of the interrelation of creation and covenant in Fresh Perspectives. But we’ll leave that for another time…)