Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Daughter Churches, Mission Churches, Church Plants, and Church Planting

When my sister and I were kids, our Sunday school classes moved from room to room and building to building each year. Our church was a large and growing church, and we were always being shuffled. I remember one particular Sunday my sister came up to me with her eyes wide open and a strange expression on her face. She explained that she had gone to where her class always met, only to find a large group of smiling adults speaking a different language.

Our church had sponsored the start of a Korean mission, and had given them the old church building to use as their own. Our Sunday school rooms had moved again, but we had not gotten the message. I still smile when I think of my dad laughing at Heather’s story.

Is there a difference?

Probably not, but when I hear these terms I have different images in my head.

When I think of daughter churches, I think of Bayou Rouge Baptist Church in Evergreen, Louisiana, having sent out some to start First Baptist Church, Bunkie Louisiana. There was a growing community with no church, so a daughter church was started in that area. Daughter churches are new churches of similar style to the ones that start them, but in a new geographic location.

When I think of mission churches, I think of my opening story. Mission churches are different than daughter churches, in my mind, in that they usually take on a form more appropriate for a different culture. Often they are started because of language barriers. Mission churches don’t look like the church that started them and aren’t expected to. The key is starting a new church in a new culture, rather than a new location.

When I think of church plants, I am probably further off than I should be, but the image I have is of a pastor or seminary graduate with an ideal of how church could or should be. He raises the funds and recruits people (from other churches) and starts a new church in a more contemporary flavor. Church plants are, in my admittedly unfair caricature, attempts to do church differently with hopes of appealing to people who don’t like stereotypical church culture.

When I think of church planting, I think of something that doesn’t look much like the other three. I think of bringing the gospel to households, discipling them to faith and baptizing them as a group. If the household is culturally distant from the nearest church or in a situation where aggressive gospel planting is needed, helping them covenant together to form a new church and continue doing evangelism and discipleship the same way, forming simple churches as needed and as led by God. (To get a better idea, see David Garrison’s Handy Guide)

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