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Church Planting in the 21st Century

21st Century

by Alex Early
Four Corner's Church Newnan, GA

Church planting in the 21st Century is a bold task. Being a gospel-centered, innovative church planter implies that you are going to have to have some entrepreneurial aptitude.

When I think of the terms “entrepreneurial aptitude” I don’t ever think of boring, vapid, mundane or lackadaisical people. Entrepreneurs are anything but boring.[1]

Entrepreneurs are attractive, engaging and stimulating people. They are interested in anything, but preserving the “status quo” (Latin for “keeping things the way they presently are”).

The ever-controversial Italian photographer, Oliviero Toscani once commented on an shocking image he created. One side of a the page contained Christ’s crucifixion and the other side was an add for climbing boots: “Creativity is not based on security... Once you’re secure, you’re doing something that’s already been done.”[2]

Did you catch that? Security is maintaining the status quo. The gospel calls us to anything but temporal security and abandonment to the security we find in Jesus.

As church planters, entrepreneurial aptitude is a must. We cannot afford to keep doing things the way that we’ve always done them.[3]

A refusal to change, take risks and become missionally-minded ultimately reveals a lack of faith, a contempt for the gospel and negligence for those who don’t know Jesus.

Entrepreneurs can see things that others do not and then enables them to see and implement what “could be.” 

Being an entrepreneur means that you’re aware that there are no guarantees and that THIS THING COULD FAIL.

Define the objectives.

First things first. Define the objectives. For church planters, our objectives are still the same as they were 2000 years ago. Believe the gospel, repent of sin, proclaim the gospel, make disciples, plant churches and repeat.

Read Cultural Texts & Define the Sitz im Leben (the situation in life)

While studying for over a year at the London School of Theology[4] to obtain my M.A. in Aspects of Biblical Interpretation (Hermeneutics)[5], an 18th century German Phrase surfaced almost daily in my readings. It’s the Sitz Im Leben - meaning “the situation in life” as one considers the context in which the Scriptures were written.[6]

The gospel-centered-mandate from Scripture is that the entrepreneurial church planter should take seriously the task of reading, understanding and then applying the gospel to the sitz im leben.[7]

One day after class, I came across a book in the bookstore that I read over a weekend entitled Everyday theology: How to Read Cultural Texts and Interpret Trends.[8]

In that book Kevin Vanhoozer says: “Specifically, popular culture - more so than the academy or the church - has become the arena where most people work out their understanding of the true, the good, and the beautiful. In sum: Christians must learn to read popular culture... our young people may not be learning their theology on the streets, they’re not learning it in the Church either but in the mall and in the all-encompassing media-world.”[9]

Take Risks Because God Doesn’t.

With a healthy understanding of the sovereignty of God, this enables the church planter to be much more open and willing to take great risks because God never takes risks. There’s nothing to risk when you’re Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Omniscient. He is sovereign. He is in control.

Therefore, the church planter can be brave enough to think outside of the box, be a little unconventional and have the freedom to see what could lay on the other side of embracing the Gospel.

See the video of the Four Corners Church story -


[1] Regarding boredom - Over 30 years ago, Reader’s Digest had an article that stated ‘The abundance of efforts made in the United States to counter boredom have defeated themselves, and boredom has become the disease of our time.’ Judson Gooding, “How to Cope with Boredom,” Reader’s Digest, February 1976, 51.
[2] Roger Ludin, ‘Interpreting Orphans: Hermeneutics in the Carteisan Tradition’, The Promise of Hermeneutics, 1.
[3]http://theresurgence.com/event-for-men-who-arent-boys-seattle-bootcampSee also, http://www.biblicalrecorder.org/post/2010/05/17/Healthy-leaders-mark-healthy-churches.aspx
[4] www.lst.ac.uk
[5] Hermeneutics is the art an science of interpretation, especially of Scripture or other written texts.
[6] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sitz_im_Leben[7] 1 Cor. 9.19-23
[8] http://www.amazon.com/Everyday-Theology-Cultural-Interpret-Exegesis/dp/0801031672/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1282756608&sr=8-1-fkmr0
[9 Everyday Theology: How to Read Cultural Texts and Interpret Trends, 33-34.

Furthermore, the average adult who spends fifty hours a year in a pew will also spend two thousand hours at home watching television. By the end of high school, the average American will have invested more hours in watching television (fifteen thousand hours) than in attending class (twelve thousand hours). Some estimate that most children will spend more time watching television before entering school than listening to their father during their entire lifetime. These same children will have watched 350,000 commercials by the time they graduate from high school. Brian Chapell, Christ-Centered Peaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon 2nd ed., 181.

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