When we started planting Grace Hills Church, we moved fast. We had our first public information meeting in July of 2011 and launched in January of 2012. Some church planting strategies would make the assumption that we were all about getting to the weekend show and not enough about making disciples. Nothing could be further from the truth. We moved fast because we wanted to pop bubbles as quickly as possible. Let me explain.
One of the reasons so many churches are plateaued at an attendance between 48 and 75 is they’ve grown very comfortable with the size of the bubble in which they are doing life. A few people may be added, but there is often little net growth because of the sociological attachment people have to their bubbles. In our first meeting, 35 people were present. It would have been easy to keep the bubble intact and make it all about those 35, but instead, we wanted to pop that bubble as quickly as possible to form new bubbles—multiple bubbles in fact.
Our church planting strategies kept us moving quickly because we wanted to keep our culture fluid and help people to understand several principles:
- It’s not about “us.” If it becomes about “us” it usually leads to becoming about “us versus them,” and we prefer to be “us for them.” We are gathering for the purpose of gathering other, as-of-yet un-gathered people.
- A single cell that never multiplies isn’t healthy. Multiplication—not just small groups, but various kinds of micro-communities within the church—is essential and needs to happen in a time frame that is measurable.
- We want individuals and small groups to reach other individuals and bring them into the church community, but we also want to bring people into the church community and connect them to individuals and small groups.
- We operate in an apostolic era. Jesus is obviously the ultimate model for living, but to see His plan for disciple-making, we have to look beyond His earthly ministry to see how He empowered the early church through the book of Acts.
- God uses momentum. You can see it in various eras of the church’s history, even in the book of Acts. Pentecost gave the church initial momentum (Acts 2), then the development of new leadership (Acts 6), and then the persecution that scattered them (Acts 8) and the commencement of the missionary-sending capacity of the church in Antioch (Acts 13).