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Archive for January 22nd, 2008

I think that the fragmentation of the Protestant church is excellerating-Study Reveals State of U.S. Church Planting

approximately 4,000 churches are being planted in the United States each year – an all-time high….church planting is much more varied than in the past with “missional,” “seeker-sensitive,” “purpose-driven” and ethnic church planting models being developed. And these new models were found to produce more evangelistic conversions…”There is this bulge of young adults that come up and begin to create new forms of institutional faith. There will always be a need for new churches and new church plants to serve those needs.”…”Most successful church planters today are specialists who emphasize a particular style of worship or a specific demographic,” he said. “For example, they may exclusively plant house churches or ethnic churches – or perhaps build purpose-driven, seeker or missional churches. And the trend toward specialization is likely to continue as more tools and resources that serve specific types of planting strategies are developed.

I have to conclude that the individual doesn’t desire to join an existing church they want to be part of building a “new” church. One tailored to what they perceive what a church could or should be. It’s a classical tail wagging the dog situation. It’s also totally unbibical. The individual doesn’t create the church. Christ calls the individual to be in the church – one that already exists and has existed since Penecost.

Adding to this is the “multi-site” concept where there is “one” church with multiple-locations model, there is a different band and local leader, but the pastor and sermon is hooked up via satellite to all the local locations. I can’t help but see this as assisting in the further development of the “cult of personality” problem. The pastor as the rock star and the Gospel message is overshadowed or the pastor’s interpretation takes on a greater authority then an Pope every claimed. And even if the pastor has a healthy does of humilty as soon as he steps down the church fragments or is taken over but someone with nothing but career enhancement in mind.

Another irony is that this will create more diversity (as in more options for the individual worshiper) but it will in fact create a belief so specialized that tolerance of other forms may be perceived as liberal or heretical simply because there is little held in common. The individual is never challenged to confront thier own belief system, when it comes in conflict with their perceived idea of what scripture means, becuase they can simply hook up with a different church which will offer them what conforms to their beliefs. Failing that they simply plant their own church.

In fact the idea of denomination’s in this trend seems to lose it’s means drowned in a sea on creedless Purpose Driven cultural relevance then theology.

As a Catholic I don’t see this as a positive, there simply won’t be any way to seek common ground with Protestants. Denominations and non-denominations were splintered badly enough, but these forces will destroy even that common ground. The bible will hopefully be THE common ground, but after that you’ll never know when a person says their a “Christian” they hold to Dr. Phil theology, or some local mega or Giga church and their brand of THE truth.

Atleast when someone use to say they were a Baptist, Methodist, or Anglican I had some knowledge of what they believed in and what we held in common. Now I have no idea and I frankly don’t have the time to understand all the various splinter variations of what is “essential non-essentials” of their faith.

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