I have previously written about sterile preaching. In this post, I want to direct you to a site I discovered today about church planting which has an excellent post on “Sterile Churches.”
What is a “Sterile Church”?
It is a church that doesn’t reproduce.
Here is an excerpt from the article that put into words what I have been thinking:
I want to show you the difference between what I call a “growth culture” in which we’ve all been trained and a “reproduction model.” Because I believe to plant a church is a different animal than to plant a church-planting church. In fact, I’m convinced that the skill sets we learned in ministry training will actually insure that things don’t reproduce.
In our growth culture we’ve learned to focus on individual conversions, while a reproduction model focuses on group conversions.
We’ve started on believer’s turf. But in order to reproduce, we must start on unbeliever’s turf. If we want group conversions of family members, co-workers, neighbors and friends, those people are not going to come to a stranger’s house or into the strange setting of a church. They will come to turf where they are always involved. In our culture we teach Scripture for information. With the reproductive model it is taught for application, so that people are watching the power of God.
We’ve begun by finding Christians. But if you want a really powerful church start, find people of peace. Bar the Christians; don’t let them in. They mess things up in the early stages.
We’ve begun in facilities. This takes money and expertise, which are not readily available. If you begin in homes or front porches or yards or parks, there are always more of them.
We’ve tended to start with celebration in a large group. For reproduction you start with a small group. Very few people actually have the ability and gifts to do a large group well. It takes more expertise, more preparation, more everything. A lot of people can facilitate small groups. They were already doing it in their own natural network before they were saved.
We build programs and buildings. To reproduce, you build leaders.
Leadership is also different. Traditionally we import professional clergy. But what we need for reproduction is to have indigenous and convert-emerging clergy. Where are the future pastors for this setting? They are in the streets, they are beating their wives, they are ripping off their employers.
Also, the leader tends to see himself as the leader for all the participants. In a reproducing church, the leader is the equipper for the emerging leaders. That is how they see themselves, and that is how they stay focused. We are used to funding the church starter. But for churches that will start other churches, you need to have bi-vocational church starters. If we are going to see the cities reached, it is going to be with bi-vocational people. Otherwise, it takes too long to actually fund.
In my own experience, every time we got ready to plant a church we felt like we couldn’t afford to lose those people, their tithes and all that. But every time we did, we actually didn’t skip a beat. God supplied. I found the most powerful thing is that connection with another church who cares.
In fact, in every church that I see planting churches, I find that some of their own issues begin to dissolve. I don’t know what it is. They are giving themselves away. I am convinced you cannot out-give God. The more you give, the more God does.
Update: Sadly, the original post for this article no longer exists, so I cannot direct you to it. I don’t even remember who wrote it. If you know, please leave a comment below. Thanks!