I am in northern California this week, at a lovely, secluded ranch on the Pacific Ocean called "The Lost Coast." I am here to teach the elders and staff of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. I wrote about Mars Hill in May on this blog spot. It is an "Emergent" style church, though far more doctrinally sharp and clear than many such churches.
In conversation yesterday I learned that in the Acts 29 Network, an outgrowth of the vision of Mark Driscoll who founded Mars Hill, member churches are expected to invest 10% of their monies in church planting right from the start. This principle helps even the smallest church to see that it must plant churches or loose its missional vision. These monies are not given to a central budget nor do they fund huge overhead costs but go directly to planters and groups who are "doing it."
A healthy church clearly has a particular missional element in its DNA. When this type of material is missing in the DNA of a church trouble is on the horizon. The problems may not appear directly for decades but they will show up in time just as defectice DNA results in harm to your body in due course.
If every church in America invested 10% up front money in sending and planting new churches the results would be astounding. I am going to challenge every church I know to adopt this vision. It makes perfect sense if your theology of the church is one that sees each church as directly serving the larger kingdom of Christ and the greater glory of his entire work in the world. And, I am convinced, only by an aggressive church planting effort that reaches the "new pagans" who are under 35 years of age will we have any hope of impacting the culture of the United States in any significant way.