Community development and church planting

It’s been interesting to see new churches being planted in the Belfast area over the last few years, of all shapes/sizes with various theological emphases (albeit still broadly similar). Any leaders that I have met recently tend to come from creative or graphic-design based backgrounds, and are still working in those high-tech, constantly changing professions. This background also comes through in the style and presentation of those church projects.

Why is it then that Christians from a community development background are not planting churches?

(I make the distinction here from clergy, some of whom I know, who carry out their ministry very much with a CD ethos).

The relationship and congregational aspects of church life seem to me to fit with the strengths of community development principles, and people from this background are perhaps better suited to the rough and tumble of dealing with personalities in church. Furthermore, the CD focus on people rather than buildings and institutions I believe fits in with biblical principles.

I could think of a few possible reasons why they are not planting churches:

  • disillusionment with mainstream church understanding and appreciation of the value of community development
  • a desire to encourage communities to engage with existing denominations, churches and fellowships in their neighbourhood, rather than complicate things with building new ones
  • tiredness! Working with people and communities for limited tangible results in the short term is demanding
  • a constant need to challenge authority!

Thinking out loud here, and with no answers or quick fixes myself. I just sit with church people sometimes and think to’re very enthusiastic and all, I don’t doubt your intentions but…what you want to do achieve might take a loooong time. Perhaps too long for most churches to commit to.




About Jonny
Brought up in Ards, currently residing in East Belfast. Married to Lisa. We also have a dog and a cat.

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