Jeff Christopherson: Why We Need a Church Planting Manifesto

We make statements every day. Most are quite unassuming—small facts needed to navigate life, maintain a healthy marriage, or keep our jobs. Other times we make greater claims. We pledge lifelong marital fidelity, we affirm oaths of national allegiance, or we attest to our salvation in Christ through baptism. These greater claims have life-altering implications.

Great claims are made in public—providing accountability to those making the claims as well as openly declaring a deep resolve to embody the very substance that the claims articulate. Great claims become a public declaration of personal participation in a reality that transcends other obligations. It drives a stake in the ground, avowing what we truly believe and how that belief will affect our behavior.

Our day is one in which almost anyone can make bombastic, public pronouncements regarding any big issue from the comfort of their favorite coffee shop. With a few smartphone keystrokes, we can broadly pontificate about politics, theological preferences, sexual ethics, race relations, or any other topic that draws our ire or interest.

The downside to such access is that it’s difficult to discern credibility amid the innumerable capricious voices raging on any given subject. Many who hear the public cacophony either resolve to listen to those voices that correspond to their predispositions or they grow disheartened by the contradictory array of “truth” being purported – and back away altogether.

That’s why we at the Send Institute thought it wise to make a public statement regarding the mission of church planting in North America. Our day is complex, and many boldly declare prescriptions of what we should or should not be doing.

We find ourselves in “a new kindof mission context that requires a diverse and globally-minded mission force radically committed to disciple-making that is rooted in the Word of God and led by the Spirit of God.”

The Church Planting Manifesto for 21st Century North Americais an attempt to articulate missiological priorities for those navigating this new reality. Crafted by a diverse team of experts, the statement gives public voice to what we discern to be the priorities and practices that are necessary to guide church planting into the twenty-first century.

The Manifesto’s Rationale

The Manifesto was designed with two priorities in mind. First, we wanted to speak to the major themes shaping North American missiology, including some which are often minimized or deemphasized in current practice. For example, we begin the manifesto with the topic of prayer, arguing that “any genuine church multiplication movement is birthed out of prayer and sacrificial obedience in cooperation with how the Spirit of God is already at work.”

Such a prayerful posture is necessary to combat the overall pragmatism and entrepreneurship that pervades much of the church planting conversation. This is an example of how the Manifesto attempts to bring into focus the main subjects that must be considered by anyone doing mission in North America in our day.

Second, we felt necessary to craft a public statement that gave missiological voice to the shared priorities of those leading this conversation. These leaders come from a from a wide diversity of backgrounds and denominational families. We deeply “believe that improving communication and meaningful interaction among different movements honors God and is the biblical intent for the unity of the Body of Christ in North America.” A unified statement aids God’s collective church in synergizing our voice and our missionary efforts.

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Source: Christianity Today