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The Death of Emerging Dreams

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : December 7, 2006

I was just reading a recent Jordon Cooper post about the number of emerging churches that showed promise and then disappeared shortly after “emerging.” Jordon has been keeping a list of emerging communities for a while now, but many of the links no longer lead anywhere. Most church plants “fail” within the first 5 years. I don’t like to think of any worthy attempt at being a church a failure, but it is still a sad reminder of how challenging it can be to plant a church.

So many churches start with high hopes that rely upon funded staff and a start-up budget. While I applaud entrepreneurial attempts at impressive ministry, I wish more communities would put aside their big dreams and instead aim for simpler dreams. I had BIG dreams for Missio Dei when we started–lots of BIG dreams for myself too. I secretly longed for a large community that was flashy and artsy and cool. But I also had simple dreams too…dreams of being hospitable to marginalized folks like refugees and homeless people. The BIG dreams required facilities and a salary and a worship team and sound equipment etc. The simple dreams only require a small cluster of people, and food to share under a common roof. A large group may see sporadic and spontaneous fruit, but when ministry primarily takes place in “regular life” things are never flashy, but there is steady transformation.

Mark Van Steenwyk is the editor of JesusManifesto.com. He is a Mennonite pastor (Missio Dei in Minneapolis), writer, speaker, and grassroots educator. He and his wife Amy have been married since 1997. They are expecting their first child in April.


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