Let’s be honest. There are exceedingly few church multiplying movements in North America despite all of the rhetoric.
The rare church multiplying movements that does exist, the ones that grow through new conversions, have something in common that we must pay attention to: members live close to each other. Not ‘commuter’ close, as in you can drive to someone within 20 minutes, but ‘neighborhood’ close where a walk to someone’s house in 5 minutes.
Many churches in North America are now commuter churches. You need to travel (drive) to the primary Sunday event. This kind of spiritual fragmentation extricates people from their immediate neighborhood, placing them in collector buildings stuck in business or industrial zones, and is one of the foundational inhibitors to church growth movements.
[tweetthis]It’s expensive and hard to replicate the commuter model of big box church.[/tweetthis]
Nonetheless, my hunch is we will NEVER see a church planting movement without the literal and necessary component of proximity.
Proximity equates to one absolutely critical thing: presence. Presence in turn is a necessary component to incarnation–reflecting the Son of God who dwelt among us.
This isn’t to say you can’t achieve momentum in churches where everyone has to drive to each another. But driving 30 minutes to meet one another for a small group, although shows commitment, is not indicative of greaterdepth.
Proximity enables many different things that commuter cannot yet growth movements require. To name a few: availability increases, the potential for frequency increases, presence increases, and through these things relationships can deepen. You can’t duplicate this while you’re sitting in your car listening to a podcast.
People who take seriously literal presence in their neighborhoods, are available to their neighbors, and for the church, and are part of communities that have a chance to hit and sustain movement state. (This is an idea for another post, but discipleship movements make more sense than replicating expensive church multiplying movements.)
Without proximity I suggest there can never be exponential movement because the latter depends on the former.
Fix the disconnect and we stand a chance. Agree or disagree?