Starfish - church planting
In the intriguing book entitled “The Starfish and the Spider”, the authors Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom make some pretty strong arguments for a relook at organizations and their leadership styles. Their fundamental idea is that “the starfish doesn’t have a head. Its central body isn’t even in charge. In fact, the major organs are replicated throughout each and every arm. If you cut the starfish in half, you’ll be in for a surprise: the animal won’t die, and pretty soon you’ll have two starfish to deal with”. Pg 35 (Alcoholic Anonymous is their global poster child)
Well, what does that have to do with us?
In the last decade I have spent endless hours, reviewing the early church, both in the scriptures and well as in history.
It would seem, our Father left the church in a more fluid, organic Spirit led posture, assigned to see the nations hear and be touched by the glorious gospel of Jesus. I suspect if modern architects had been left to craft the Jesus communities, we would have created Catholicism, as the Roman church did. Our obsession with a “papal” leadership model, would have left us with no alternative.
As we continue on our adventure may we rediscover the the beauty and wonder of the starfish - when it is cut, it multiplies.
Of course no one metaphor adequately describes a kingdom reality. Neither does this one.
However, what we can learn is the following:
What Jesus left behind was far more starfish than spider. Yes there was leadership, but he left behind no one central control agency or person. It seems like he built the future of the church around apostles and their assignments as well as key, strategic churches as gospel beach heads. It would seem he never doubted that the two could co-exist as essentials to this battleground of kingdom advancement. That remains our assignment;
We want to be a “tribe” that is alive in the notion of the organic life of the Spirit. We will seek to be intentional as we are catalytic, but not at the expense of Spirt led obedience - and we are creating an instant obedience culture, where there is life in every limb;
We are a people for whom multiplication is our mantra and battle cry. There exists no desire to be the “biggest” at anything. There is simply another matrix against which we wish to measure ourselves - multiplication is our dream, our passion, our grasp of an apostolic narrative;
We do not want to build a “spider” - a single body that is easily dispensed with when the head is removed. Rather we find the power of the many as being of a greater value. Over the next 15 years or so, it would be fun to see how many “starfish” are to be born - apostolic households, uniquely and wonderfully raised up to fuel the fires and flames in different contexts and cultures;
We highly value the power and wonder of key and strategic churches, each with a certain geographical assignment to present the gospel in word and deed (a marvelous ancient example recorded in “The Celtic Way of Evangelism” by George G. Hunter III). We need every base / hub church to forge their way forward, being fully backed by the other leaders to complete their mandate. We cannot stress enough how important and vital the role of each one of these strategic, frontline churches are. Words like “cultural acknowledgment”, “contextual application”; “regional influence”, “indigenous leadership development”, cannot be achieved when leading is exclusively centralized;
We believe in leadership. However, this kind of starfish leadership seeks to empower others not centralize control (unless we want to build a denomination). With 8 billion people on the planet, over 2,7 billion people have never heard the precious name of Jesus and with over 200 nations / protectorates (never mind how many cultures)…no one centralized leadership space and team can control all realities. We will enjoy seeing many unique and distinctive leaders be raised up;
We are building something that helps fulfill the “promise (that) is for you, your children and those who are far off” Acts 2:39. It has to be empowering for our generation, but has to be transferable to the next generations whilst finding form for the many, many folks who are culturally far away from us. We simply cannot build a one generational story that then drifts into a war of succession or spiritual mediocrity. It has to go beyond us. History simply cannot be repeated; (Steven Turner the English poet wrote: “History repeats itself, has to, no-one listens”)
We want to see all the Ephesians 4 “domata” raised up around the world. Our priority is prevent a single culture from reigning supreme. Some of our greater joys will be to see men and women, young and old, from many, many nations, step up into these offices. Our commitment is not to be politically correct, but to identify those upon whom the hand of the Lord rests and simply make it known publicly
This idea is compelling. As the times become unstable and the church moves from center stage to the radical fringe, from the many to the few, from the celebrated to the hated, from the applauded to the persecuted, we do so need to change our architecture in keeping with the text and the times. These new wineskins may not be new at all. They may well be “back to the future”.
Yes we are creating a story. We are softly shaping a “tribe” to belong to, a mission to believe in and a leadership to follow. However this shape and form must be flexible enough to be fully obedient to Jesus whilst being strong enough to resist the onslaught of the enemy. It needs to be free from the insecurities of being out of control, trusting those to the left and right of us, that they too have a gospel proclaiming, kingdom advancing passion.
Multiplication is our cry - planting Jesus proclaiming, kingdom advancing churches in the nations of the world! That is our mission.
“Even now, come Lord Jesus”