We talk a lot about “launching” actionchurch around here. In simplest terms “launching” or “launching large” as it sometimes called, is a church planting strategy that attempts to “build” the most viable church possible in its first six-twelve months. It is not the “only” way to start a church. It is not the “right” way to start a church. It is simply a proven strategy that we have chosen to use. Allow me to explain…
Imagine church is a fire. It’s not a big stretch. (Acts 2:1-4) Like fire, a Church can either be unstoppable (think Forest fire) or fragile ( think “candle in the wind”) depending on the amount of fuel and air “consumed”. Please stop singing that awful Elton John song “like a candle in the wind” now. I’m serious, stop it! Now imagine you must start a fire. Not because you want to make some s’mores on a camping trip. Not in a competitive Survivor “fire making challenge” scenario. You have to make a fire in a serious Man vs. Wild way. People are depending on you-lives are at stake!
As a “fire starter” you have some decisions to make. How will you proceed? Will you start indiscriminately striking your matches and attempting to light anything flammable within arms reach? Drop to your knees and pray for a lightning strike? (It could happen…) Will you start a tiny fire from a few sticks you find nearby and “nurture” it until it becomes large enough to become a self sustaining blaze?
A fire starter with a “launch” strategy would not immediately strike a match. Instead, he would make a quick survey of the area. Great attention would be given as to where to start the fire. He would identify potential fuels for his fire. As he began to gather wood and other fuels he would keep his eye out for possible “accelerants” to help his fire grow faster. (Don’t try this at home, but nothing flammable is “off limits” gas, oil, plutonium etc.) Great care would be taken in how the initial kindling and starters would be arranged to create immediate heat. Care would also be taken to make sure enough fuel was gathered to sustain the fire after it’s initial start. Finally a match would be struck and by God’s grace a “fire” would be started.
Final thought: I hope this has made the idea of “launching” a church clearer. If strategy and planning seem “worldly and gimmicky” when starting a church, fine. Grab two sticks and rub them together with “all your might”. The main thing to remember about “fire starting” is that no matter how much (or little) strategy we use…God gives fire! Did we create the fuel? “Invent” friction and combustion? Create oxygen? Create our “strategizing” ability? Form our hands? I don’t think so. The main thing is that fires are started…People are cold. People are hungry. And there are some very dangerous things lurking outside the “fire”!