Have you seen the Snuggie? I remember the first commercial I saw for this item. It was late one night right after the evening news. As I watched the commercial, the thought I had was that this is just a robe worn backwards, it will never sell. Now you see Snuggies in every store and they even have them for pets. It is the latest in what I call, "unusual products" that is now the rage.
In 1986, I became officially involved in church planting by helping to start a church in Westchester County N.Y. However, before that time I worked with my parents in a church that they helped start as lay persons. 23 years later, I am sitting here in my office looking at all the books on my shelf about starting churches thinking that church planting has, in some ways, taken off just like the Snuggie.
Over the last 23 years, I have seen church planting go from what you do when you can't find a church, to one of the most popular ministries. When I started planting there were about 3 books on planting churches. Today, there are hundreds of books, articles, blogs (mine included) and church planting resources. As a matter of fact, there are hundreds of opinions out there on how to start a church. Don't believe me. Just Google the term church planting.
It seems like church planting has become very popular among evangelicals and even non-evangelicals (case in point: Scientologists have started a church in Nashville). Church planting conferences has gone from attracting a couple hundred to a couple of thousand. There are now degree programs in church planting whereas, 10 to 15 years ago there might have been 1 or 2 programs in the country.
My prayer is that the increased interest in church planting is not the latest fad. Many today are looking for that "magic bullet" for church growth, and in some cases self-promotion, that they jump from idea to idea hoping to have success and the latest book and conference speaking deal. I'm afraid that church planting has become one of those so called "magic bullets". The problem with this mentality is that if the "church planting gig" doesn't work I can always find another thing to try. Maybe I'll do the multi-site, video venue or missional gig.
Now before you think that I am picking on people, let me just say that none of these things are wrong if the goal is to see the Kingdom grow!! We have to remember that church planting is the reaching and discipling of people to become fully devoted followers of Christ. Church planting is not the focus! Seeing communities brought to be a part of the Kingdom of God is the focus.
Next time we see or hear the latest and greatest ministry idea or event, let's not get caught up in the idea. It is just a tool or a means to which the proclaimation of the Gospel and the Discipling of the nations is accomplished. That is what church planting is! Lets don't treat it like the Snuggie - love it for a while and then put it in the closet never to wear it again.