Church Planting Research and Development: Part 1

Is There Ecclesiological Room for R&D in Church Planting?

The notion of Research and Development in the church strikes fear in the hearts of some. Why would we need it? Hasn’t God given us everything that we need regarding the nature and practice of the church in his Word?

If we introduce the concept of R&D, aren’t we on a pragmatic slippery slope that will inherently devolve into manmade distortions of God’s church? Isn’t the goal simply to uncover this singular ecclesiological model and design our planting models accordingly?

Well, yes and no.

The Bible is the essential and sufficient guide for our understanding of the nature and practice of his church. The church is, after all, solely his. He has revealed how he has created the church to function and thrive.

God has graciously given us insight into the development of the first church through the record of his Word. He has spoken clearly about the mission, practice, and leadership of the church and provided standards that cannot be improved upon through human ingenuity.

But such a high view of Scripture’s ecclesiological authority does not necessarily render any missiological R&D as out of bounds.

In fact, a high view of the nature of Jesus’ church actually demands it. Each church is embedded in a certain cultural context that necessitates wise decisions regarding how best to flesh out the mission of Christ among particular peoples in specific places around the world.

Such work necessitates contextual R&D. In fact, it is vital and unavoidable if we have any hope of transformative impact on culture.

Let’s dispel with a myth.

There’s simply no such thing as a culture-free local church. Each church, by virtue of its existence within time and space, is found within a cultural continuum …

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