One of the things we have sensed since we first got the idea of moving to Dublin to plant a church was that we needed to spend sometime getting to know and simply listening to people there. What helps people in Ithaca connect with Jesus may not have any impact in Dublin….or it might. But we are going there as students...to listen and learn.
At the same time, there are a couple things about what we are hoping to do there that are becoming more and more clear as we move forward. For example there are two words that we have strongly believed need to describe what we build in Dublin...Sustainable & Reproducible.
Over the next few days I wanted to look at what those two words mean to us. Let me start by talking about what I mean by reproducible. (as an aside, I have learned that if you and your spouse reproduce after a certain age, people feel they have a right to ask you very personal questions...this also seems to be true for people who have 4 or more kids. When we had our first 3 kids, no one asked us if we were trying to have kids...but when Liz was pregnant with Méabh, countless people asked us if we were surprised...we simply assured them that we understand how the process works.)
At least with humans...
But say you have a church of 1000 people. Over the course of 15 years, they plant 10 new churches. And say one of those churches grows to 200. Two more make it to 100, and the rest struggle to make it year to year, and never really become established.
I’m 6 feet (72 inches) tall. My wife is 5’6”. We have 4 kids. Say one of them grew to 36 inches tall. Another to 28 inches, and the other two were still struggling to get past 20 inches. On the one hand, sure, we’ve reproduced, but no one would look at that and see our family as healthy. In fact, everyone would recognize something somewhere had gone wrong.
And obviously, they would still be human...they would still matter...we would still love them...they would have value...but we would all want so much more for them.
Or even take our church in Ithaca. I’ve wanted to plant churches. I’ve prayed about it. Talked to people with potential, and encouraged them to plant...and in 13 years, we’ve planted 1 church (and that involved someone who came to our church wanting to plant.) Now that church (in Wellsboro PA) is about the same size as our church in Ithaca. So on the one hand we’ve reproduced...what we reproduced has grown to look like us...but after 13 years of trying, we reproduced once.
Again, if Liz and I had been trying to have kids for 13 years & had one, most everyone would recognize that there is something not working as it is supposed to.
I have some thoughts as to why it has worked this way...tomorrow I’ll share a couple of thoughts on that.