mission shaped church
When the above questions of mission goal are put, then choices about
which expression or type of church is suitable begin to have a mission
rationale and motivation.
the second dimension: who is the plant by?
Having established who an expression of church is for the mission goal
it is next necessary to become clearer about what sort of team is needed
the mission resource to respond to the mission goal. There are choices
to be made about the kind of church into which it is hoped to grow, all
subject to an assessment of the mission context.
This dimension might be described as the height of the plant. Some sub
questions help to clarify the choices, all of which are different variables.
is the need for progression or pioneer planting?
`Progression planting' describes the progress that can be made by a plant
that builds upon the presence of a significant number of existing Christians
in a network group or geographical area. It is a way of working that builds
on existing strength and contacts. By contrast, `pioneer planting' is the call
for some to plant in places and cultures in which at present there are few,
if any, known Christians. Pioneer planting is a way of working by responding
to weakness. Clearly both tasks are valid.
The advantages of progression planting are those associated with strength.
The team who is already part of the mission context understands it and its
culture, and should have a wealth of existing relationships on which to build
in evangelism. There are also likely to be sufficient numbers in the team so
that the variety of different tasks that are part of becoming a new church
can be taken up relatively easily.
The progression task looks easier, but fresh and compelling pioneer
contexts are growing in number, needing church planting pioneers to
It is important to recognize that pioneer plants are not always
cross cultural they may simply involve the development of a church in
a context where there is currently no church. The lack of existing church
people in a context can be due to factors such as large roads or railways,
or social trends such as the catchment areas for schools, or presence or
absence of shopping centres.
The difference between progression and pioneer planting matters, because
they start at different points in terms of local spiritual history, and they
involve different resources. Pioneer teams for non churched people tend
to be smaller partly because they can be difficult to recruit, and partly
because large groups might appear to be like an invasion of do gooders