I recently read this article: “Crazy Passion: Francis Chan Keeps Pushing and Pushing to Make More and More Disciples” by John Brandon in Christianity Today, Oct 2009. I like some of the things I hear about what he is doing. Here are some snippets of the article:
“In church, rather than rehab people, we just put them in a wheelchair and say, ‘We will do everything for you,’” says Chan. “‘You don’t have to witness to your neighbors. We will send out fliers and do TV shows and evangelize for you. You don’t have to counsel your neighbors; just give them the church’s phone number. Now we are saying, ‘You be the discipler. You have the Holy Spirit in you, and we want to equip you to reach your neighbors.'
"Chan’s long-term plan involves building the church without having a building. . . . The experiment is a way to find out how the church can grow without the limits of a building. . . . The structure is intended to encourage authentic discipleship, where small churches birth more small churches as believers grow and mature, attracting new members. Vanderstelt says the main challenge with this approach is that it requires a shift in leadership perspective.”
The vision of our church, Highland Christian Fellowship, is also to establish new, reproducing church fellowships. And I agree that the approach described above "requires a shift in leadership perspective." They were talking about pastors moving away from functioning as "managers or directors of programs." While this must be done, I believe a more drastic paradigm shift must occur. The above model will work better (if at all) if we are willing to have local, native, non-ministry-as-career teams of pastors who shepherd small, reproducing churches.