I’m a church planter by practice and pretense (depending on the day, as few of us pull off wearing that hat non-stop). Church planting is by nature an interesting animal. It has that “new car” or “new book” smell all over it. And it’s tempting, because of that, for folks to walk into a church planting effort and expect that everything will be brand new–a church as fresh as the day of Pentecost.
Well, sort of. New works involve lots of Pentecost-type things: reaching out, sharing Jesus, baptizing everybody, and figuring out what it looks like to disciple and to gather for worship. They have a lot of the same growing pains that the book of Acts and the epistles of Paul bear witness to, as well. There are leadership questions, and cultural challenges, and discipleship gaps and experiments.
But that’s not all. Church plants have DNA–they have parents, friends, and bickering cousins who all have an opinion on the shape of things. In other words, there is tradition to take note of. For Pentecostals ministering in the Anglican Church or others in the catholic tradition, this isn’t a negative thing at all. As it’s been noted many times, tradition is a life-giving thing in Pentecostal discipleship.
But what does that look like in church planting? Tradition is what we are passing on in discipleship. Tradition maps out how we follow Jesus together. So, for an Anglican like myself, what that looks like includes:
- When sharing stories and other texts from Scripture, the point of every single one is to reveal Jesus (Christological reading)
- We pray together corporately, even the kids outreach has us reciting corporate prayer.
- We make use of liturgical prayer. For example, baptism candidates will receive a small booklet including daily prayers derived from the family offices from the prayerbook.
- We value the church year–Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter are especially highlighted in our children’s outreach, and I hope they will be an influence in our small groups as well.
So, yes, tradition provides hands-on discipleship for life in the Spirit as we are all attempting to follow Jesus together. Practice it personally and embrace it’s application in ministry–especially in new ministry like church planting.