the story since Breaking New Ground
The science of genetics helps us understand a difference between creative
reproduction and cloning. When the genes of an individual are combined in
offspring with new genes from an external source, the result is a genetically
unique creation in the next generation and not a copy. So it is with good
church planting practice.
The planting process is the engagement of church and
gospel with a new mission context, and this should
determine the fresh expression of church.
To exclude either the theological essentials or the new mission context is to
miss what is necessary for plants to take root and lead to a contextualized
church. This will be developed in Chapter 5 of this report.
Looking back, some clone plants began as culturally inappropriate entities
and so aged rapidly and took on all the unhelpful attributes of the parent.
Some failed to survive and failed to reproduce further. However, despite all
these weaknesses, what happened in the history of church planting has
been enormously important. Planting produced significant numerical growth
(particularly in contrast to the general pattern of decline elsewhere in the
Church) and led to considerable mission enthusiasm and creative initiative.
Where the mission context was the same, creating similar church was
starting and developing
It became clear that planting a church was no guarantee that it would
succeed. It is therefore interesting to ask what helped them mature.
In the heyday of planting, some of the literature offered `how to' answers,
making assumptions that were inflexible about the forms and processes
that `church plants' would take. Easy and convenient solutions tended to
encourage a simplistic approach. They often failed to encourage a more
costly, slower and localized methodology, in which the fresh expression was
allowed to evolve from its mission context.
In addition, some of the advice from this period was directed to the
stages leading up to the birth and early months of the life of the planted
church. Insufficient attention was given to the skills needed in later life.
`Church planting' in some quarters became synonymous with the birth
process only, and did not embrace the growing and maturing of the