In order to discern your core values, you need to be able to understand what the community around you needs. Although you are deriving timeless principles from God’s word, you will be seeking to be an agent of change, and therefore your core values will reflect the burdens that God has placed on your heart by looking around. The core values you’d emphasize in one cultural context, wouldn’t be the same as another. For example, one of our five Pillars at Pillar Church was “contemporary”. I wouldn’t have felt the need to insert that in Southern California, but that term actually meant something in a culture that had never had a Jesus movement in the 60’s and 70’s. Many of the Evangelical churches in Wales had an iron grip on orthodoxy, but didn’t have a grasp on contemporary culture. In America, however, having “contemporary” as one of your core values would be a bit redundant. Therefore, the core values that you establish in your concrete mixing stage will be somewhat reactionary to what the culture you are launching into.
Years ago, a video game came out that repeated the phrase, “All your base are belong to us”. It was classic stuff. Somebody made a video of it, it went viral, and the rest is history (that you probably missed). The point is, that had a little more research been done, the target audience might have been intimidated when the alien horde invaded bellowing their verbal threat. Instead, it was laughable. Your church planting attempt can’t avoid being laughable if you don’t know your mission field. Put on your pith helmet, Dr. Livingstone, because it’s time you learned to study your own culture.
For example, when my New Breed Welsh partner in crime, Dai Hankey, began to launch out, he was dropping into a severely economically depressed area. After our partnership with Acts 29 Western Europe was established, they asked for a formal report on the areas where New Breed was planting. Although we’d not formally done that prior to planting, by nature of being missionaries at heart, we’d already recognized what the defining characteristics were of the intended drop zone.
For example, Dai came up with these statistics about Trevethin, where Hill City Church had been planted:
- Trevethin is among the 10 % most deprived communities in Wales. Trevethin is the most deprived ward in Torfaen (county).
- Torfaen is the 2nd most obese ward in the UK (after the Shetland Islands!)
- Torfaen is the anti-depressant capital of the UK – 11 out of every 100 prescriptions are for anti-depressants.
- The top 7 counties for anti-depressant prescription in the UK are all in the Welsh Valleys!
- Trevethin is trapped in high interest, easy access borrowing via door stop lending, thus reinforcing the poverty cycle.
- Domestic violence is a significant issue in Trevethin.
- The percentage of economically inactive people in Trevethin is among the highest in Wales.
- Trevethin has one of the highest numbers of cohabiting couples with dependent children. In 2017 Trevethin will have one of the highest numbers of children aged 5 and under.
- Trevethin has one of the largest numbers of children on the protection register in Wales.
As Dai finished that survey, I can promise you that once he knew all of the facts about the people living there, he began to see them more as God sees them, and his heart began to break for them more than ever. Unless you know who you’re dealing with, you won’t know what you’re going to be called to do. Trust me, once you do a survey like this, you’ll know. And knowing is half the battle. You’ll be a part of God’s strategic task force to undermine the effects of Cobra as they’ve carried out the destruction in the name of the serpent! Yo Joe!
Did you know that over 50% of the world lives on less than 2 dollars a day? Chuck Colson wrote in the 80s that “an estimated 36,000 homeless men and women have been wandering New York’s streets at night. The city’s maximum shelter capacity is just more than 3,500 and the budget is already overloaded, so Mayor Koch appealed to the city’s religious leaders for help. If each of New York’s 3500 places of worship would care for just ten homeless people, a desperate human problem would be quickly solved, without huge government expense.” (Colson – who speaks for god p85)
When your passion and the world’s needs meet together you often find Gods calling.
Another equally eye-opening bit of research that can be done is to look at the existing churches in the area. You’ll need to either partner with the churches in the area or steer clear of them. You need to know which it is and meeting with the Pastors is a quick way to find out. In many cases you’ll see what God has already been doing in the area. It’s never helpful for a church planter to believe that he’s God’s gift to a neighborhood. He’s merely reinforcements to the battle already waging. Another encampment. Another outpost. Another base.
Buy Peyton’s newest book “Reaching The Unreached: Becoming Raiders of the Lost Art” over on Amazon.com. You can also download a free chapter and watch a cool trailer for the book HERE or click the image below.