Friday, August 12, 2011

churchplanting revisited

The word churchplanting is not found in the Bible. The metaphor is however legitimate. The idea is noble. Some-one else might be difficult and ask: but do we need to find a verse where the word 'churchplanting' is there in English. (Afterall, the Bible was not initially written in English)

These comments might sound flippant. Its not. The various translations of the Bible does bring a bit of intepretation. Metaphors can become absolute and, yes there are times when concepts and practices, can become holy cows. ('Holy cow', is also not in the Bible, by the way.) We have to allow ourselves and what we do to be tested and critiqued ever anew in the light of Scripture, but also in the light of the impact of what we do. What God revealed on Singapore or in Bristoll, might not be appropriate for Rwanda or Stellenbosch.

So, church and the growth of church must not follow the patterns of imperialism or empirebuilding, where a multi-national company, supported by loads of cash come and plant their plant in a new context, with all the bells and whistles, the trappings of the homebase.

What the bible speaks of is obedience to the prompting of the Holy Spirit where growth is about quality of life, about a deepening of our communion and a deepening of our care for the 'least of these of my brothers'. One also read of the fruit of the spirit, but its not about the globalisation of agriculture, not competition and expansion; its about love, peace, patience, kindness. That's what the world needs. The world doesn't need a spiritual Bill Gates or Donald Trump. So plants and growth can be legitimate metaphors, but it remains limited to the meaning we attach to it. Just don't worship the metaphor, the image. That's is idolatry.