Killer Questions is a series of blog posts designed to help planters and starters have transformative conversations with themselves and their co-labourers.   

Are You Clear About What You’re Doing?

Clarity is a valuable commodity in any start-up project. Clarity can be hard to come by especially when things are going full steam. Planters and starters can find themselves so busy mopping up the floor that they don’t have time to turn off the tap. It can be an important discipline to be able to regularly pull the group aside and ask, “Where is all of this headed?” We all have limited time, energy, and focus. We need to use it all wisely.

Here’s a composite sketch of what this can look like on the ground.  

Your church plant has been going for a year. You’ve experienced some successes. You’re a tiny but feisty group. Your church is excited, energetic, and committed to a common vision. Some of the investments you’ve been making in the neighbourhood are starting to pay off. You’re being asked to participate in some significant projects in the neighbourhood. This will open all kinds of doors for the future but it will also take some significant investment on the part your fledgling church. Recently several new families have joined your ranks as “refugees” from another faith community. They generally like the cut of your collective jib, but they seem a little tone deaf to the subtle nuances of your jointly held vision. These families with small children bring with them needs that your church isn’t currently in a position to address. As the planter you are bi-vocational. You have a lot on your plate. You already feel stretched thin. You’re excited by all the recent developments, but you’re just one person. You can’t possibly address everything that is coming your way. How are you and the church going to rise to meet these opportunities head on?

The following questions are here to help you kickstart a clarifying conversation:

  • When we started, who did we imagine we were starting this church for?
  • Based on our current track record, what kinds of people seem most likely to share life among us?
  • So far, what kinds of people don’t seem likely to join us?
  • What do we do if the people we started the church for aren’t connecting yet?
  • What would we need to change?
  • How have we respond when people don’t seem to fit?
  • Who have we expected to do the changing? The church or the people that don’t fit?
  • Can we be all things to all people?
  • Are we being rigid and unchangeable? Tone deaf to our context or reality?
  • Are we being too flexible and losing our vision in the process?
  • What will people who join us come looking for? (Lots of people join church plants and projects for less than ideal reasons like: time, location, it feels new, liking the music, liking the preaching, or liking how you’re stickin’ it to the man.)
  • Are we happy that they will be looking for those things or do we need to work at adjusting their expectations? How do we have these conversations with them?
  • How are we going to help them come to terms with what we’re doing?
  • How are we going to remain flexible enough to learn from new people?
  • What unique local factors shape the starting point of the people that join us?
  • What condition are they likely to arrive in?
  • When it comes to life transformation, what do we expect to see?
  • What do we hope to see?
  • What would we love to see?
  • Can we state in a sentence what we think a fully featured follower of Jesus looks like in our context?
  • What practices will we have to engage in regularly so that those features develop in us?
  • We want the people that join us to follow Jesus… so what will they need to know about Him first?
  • What will they need to know second, etc.?
  • What regular rhythms do we engage in that help new people meet Jesus?
  • We also want them to join us in our work, so what will they need to know about us first?
  • What will they need to know second, etc.?
  • What regular rhythms do we engage in that help new people join us and “get it?”
  • How will we figure out what actually happens in people after they’ve lived life among us for a while?
  • What questions are we currently asking to find out?
  • Are those the best questions? Should we ask some new ones? Should we ask them in another way?
  • What will we do if we don’t like what we find?

These questions are adapted from the book Gutsy: (Mis)adventures in Canadian Church Planting. To explore more helpful advice on what it takes to plant new kind of churches in Canadian soil order your copy today! 

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