Posts Tagged ‘splants’

Too often we hear about selfish agendas, monuments to egos and other disgraceful things when churches make the news.  It is the bad stuff, the proof that we really need a Savior.  Rarely do you hear the news that proves that the Savior lives and changes people- news about sacrifice for others, dying to self so that others might benefit.

Winter Haven is “splant” central.  It is notorious for bitterness and selfish ambition resulting in new churches split off from existing churches to serve self more than Jesus.

One of my friends was pastor of an aging, struggling church.  Closure seemed inevitable.  What to do with the property?

When our church closed we were tempted to sell our assets to other congregations.  But we decided to make them available to other churches, especially church plants, free of charge.

My friend had an even better idea- they just gave their facility to a new church plant.  They wanted to see the facility used to further the kingdom.  It wasn’t about money, but the kingdom.  It was about leaving an inheritance, so to speak, for the next generation.

Here is more.  In the midst of all the stories you hear about how horribly Christians can treat each other, doesn’t this one give you hope?  It does me, and I need that right about now.

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“I heard the news today, oh boy…”  One of my former elders sent me a link to the Sun-Sentinel.  I was saddened to hear that the “dissidents” from Coral Ridge, not getting their way in the vote the previous Sunday, have already left and begun the process of forming a new congregation.

They currently call it The Church, and over 400 people attended a worship service led by the organist and choir director who just resigned and a former staff member.

There are ways to leave peaceably, and then there are ways to leave spitefully.  This looks to be the latter- it was rash, hasty and bears all the marks of a knee-jerk reaction instead of patience & love.  And this is disheartening to me.  It must be much more disheartening to Tully Tchividjian and the rest of Coral Ridge.  People can disagree on ministry style (and non-core theological issues).  Churches can plant new churches with a different ministry style.  That is leaving peaceably.  Agreeing that though we disagree, we love and respect one another and will continue to work together though we will work differently.

But “splants” are something altogether different.  They are born of animosity.  They are taking their toys and going to a new home.  I currently live in “splant central”.  While they may initially have success, the rotten foundation ultimately does them in unless there is repentance for the self-will and bitterness that lay at their root.  Such actions say “the gospel is not enough for us to overcome our differences and love each other well.”  Such actions are actually anti-gospel.  As a result, they undermine the work of the kingdom in the community.  This is precisely what I feared would happen, and I wish I was pleasantly surprised by a very different outcome- one in keeping with the finished work of Christ applied to His people.

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Monday Morning Insight has a thread about “church pirates”.  At a video taped staff meeting, Ed Young Jr. talked about those who leave a church staff to plant a new church, “stealing” members from the first church.

There are tons of comments, with some interesting thoughts.  People taking different sides.  One of the issues is the “50 Mile Rule”.  Sometimes it is argued that you shouldn’t pastor a new church within 50 miles of the original church.  There are too many generalizations in Ed’s comments, and the feedback.

Since I “haven’t lived it out” Ed doesn’t want to hear from me.  But, here are some thoughts as I’ve observed things:

1. Healthy churches, and healthy church leaders, raise up younger men to plant new churches in their own cities or surrounding cities.  This is a strategic move.  It can be intentional, and should be in my opinion.  This permits people to stay in their communities for the benefit of their families (yes, they matter too).

2. Some churches need to consider doing that very thing.  They often have a “rigid” philosophy of ministry and there are a group of people who would like to see changes.  A wise, secure Senior Pastor and lay leaders could say “we want to remain as we are, but recognize you have some legitimate desires”.  They would then work together to plant a daughter church that has a different ministry style.  The core group would go with their blessing.  But, instead of that people slowly bleed out to attend another church in town that may be more in tune with them.

3. The “50 Mile Rule” is usually (not exclusively) used by either insecure pastors, or when an adversarial relationship has developed.  In the first case, the Senior Pastor or lay leaders are so afraid of losing members they fail to love their members well by seeking what may be best for Christ, the kingdom and the people.  In this case the “rule” is petty and should not be invoked.  In the second case, it may be the pride of the younger man that drives the animosity.  Either way, tensions are heightened to the point that they can not work together, nor support one another.  The desire is to not plant a toxic church.  In this case the “rule” is good.  What often results is a “splant” or a plant resulting from a split.  The community I live in is filled with splants.  There have been very few real church plants here.  As a result the churches tend not to work together, and the reputation of the Body of Christ has taken some serious hits.

4. Then there are the guys who remind me of Absalom.  David’s son stole the hearts of Israel in his attempt to overthrow the King.  Some staff members may do this, purposely undermining the Senior Pastor.  These men are dangerous and shouldn’t be planting a church.  These are the “pirates” but they are not very common in my experience. 

But Ed sounds burned and bitter.  He seems to discount all church plants within the community as a result of these “troublers of Israel”. 

Jared at Gospel Driven Church has some good thoughts.  Ed’s repeated references to corporate America may reveal more than he wishes, and color how he views these things.


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