by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 2/19/17.
A student once asked, “I am picturing a situation where a large church wants to plant an (independent) daughter church because they have a growing sub-congregation in the church that is mostly Hispanic, or Gen Y. Is that a better way to help them, by launching them as an independent church plant? Or can we help them better by offering to share the church with them as a venue or sub-congregation in the mother church?”
I replied …
What we often do when we launch a typical church “plant” is to create an “external” sub-congregation. And, this is okay. But, I think it is usually not the best way to proceed. Rather, the “internal planting” of a sub-congregation (fostering the growth of a sub-congregation that remains part of the church) is a better strategy.
This is because external plants have the following PLUSES (strengths) and NEGATIVES (weaknesses):
Pluses: External plants (in my consulting practice) grow quicker than Internal Plants (developing a sub-congregation and a venue), because they are homogeneous (i.e. largely attracting one culture).
Negatives: External plants (in my consulting practice) die quicker. They are smaller and often don’t reach critical mass for long-term sustainability.
Pluses: External plants have experienced leadership, because the leader has been trained in the mother church.
Negatives: External plants often lack good accountability and thus succumb to leadership/ethical weaknesses.
Pluses: External plants attract people who do not have a church home and/or who are dissatisfied with the church they attend.
Negatives: External plants often attract disgruntled people:
- Who don’t like the church they attend
- And/ or who do not want to rub shoulders with another culture (generational, ethnic, affinity, etc.). Thus, reconciliation does not take place.
Pluses: External plants create more churches, though they may be smaller and not healthy for many years.
Negatives: External plants often kill existing churches, when the people who are attracted to the external plant leave the mother church, and other churches, weakening the churches they left. This is the main reason pastors of established churches don’t like external plants, it cannibalizes the people they need to survive.
Pluses: External plants cater to a specific cultural market. This creates a like-minded community that grows because of the things it holds in common.
Negatives: External plants don’t promote inter-cultural understanding. This would be like the second-generation Koreans wanting their own church. The first-generation Koreans would feel abandoned and disconnected. And the externally planted 2nd-gen congregation might develop distain (due to distance) for the 1st-gen culture.
This illustration highlights the differences between first and second generational cultures. But it happens in even a more damaging fashion between ethnic cultures.
The result of a good work, like church planting, can be that the cultures are distance organizationally and physically from one another by the planting of a separate congregation.
But it often makes the mother church feel good, because it can say, “We planted another church.” But in reality they often push them away because of their differences. This creates distance between them and us. In my consulting work, no matter how much churches protest they … “Will stay connected to our daughter church,” they never stay as close as they would if they were sharing the church as fellow sub-congregations.
Thus, if a church is really committed to reconciliation and multi-culturalism (as I am) then Internal Planting is the better choice. Thus, with Internal Planting the church becomes in a community the main avenue for building multi-cultural understanding and tolerance, e.g. unity building and changing biases.
A name for this type of church is The Multicultural Alliance Model.