When an existing church does a church plant, should the plant look exactly like the planting church? Should the plant do things exactly like the planting church – from the Bible translation to the detailed traditions and customs? I believe we should not plant clone churches that are exactly like the planting church. My explanation is longer, but for now I’ll quote a helpful section of Chester and Timmis’ Total Church.
“If past experience and tradition define what it means to be church, that will constrain church planting. Or church plants may run the risk of being clones – copies of sending churches. Unless we recognize this danger, church planting may in fact reduce missionary activity as small churches struggle to ape the programs of larger churches.”
“Often the main limitation to church planting is a failure of imagination. People cannot imagine how church planting might be done or how church might be done differently. People do not want to let go of the ‘success’ their church has become. This may be because some do not want the risk, effort, and discomfort that church planting involves. But often it has more to do with their view of church. We have a notion of what a ‘successful’ church is, and this involves a certain level of staff, programs, and activity. Church planting feels like it will involve letting this go, moving from success to lack of success.”
“We must not be driven by sociology or accommodate to our culture. …Church planting cannot involve an uncritical replication of existing models. Church planting should be at the forefront of new ecclesiological thinking. …Through mission the church can break free from external conformity to culture and internal conformity to tradition to rediscover the vitality of the gospel.”
These great words are taken from pages 95-96 of Total Church.