Tech Geek Robert Scoble on Church Planting (accidentally)
July 26, 2008, 2:32 pm
Filed under: books, conference, culture, denomination, innovation, technology

Even though I’m significantly out of my element, I often stumble through blog posts by Robert Scoble, who is a self-admitted “tech geek.”  He’s always got a strong opinion on what’s going on in the high tech world – some people like him, some don’t.  Though he’s seems to be a much nicer guy, you might think of him as the Chris Matthews of tech.

He posted an interesting entry today on what he calls “The Silicon Valley VC Disease.”  He mentions some current thinking by venture capitalists when it comes to funding startups that make applications for trendy, potentially flavor-of-the-month things like the iPhone and Facebook.

What is the disease? That you must make bucketloads of money (or at least have a shot at doing that) in the first two years of business.

If you have a plan to make just a reasonable amount of money, or if it will take decades to make a big amount of money, don’t come to Silicon Valley.

What interested me in this post was how true his statements are of church planting in North America.  The difference being, if you were to swap “venture capital funding” for “denominational church plant funding,” and “money” for “church attendees.”  For example, let’s rework the above quote (with apologies to Scoble):

What is the disease?  That you must [have boatloads of people in your church] (or at least have a shot at doing that) in the first two years [after the church launches].

If you have a plan to just have a reasonable number of relationships, or if it will take decades to make a big [church], don’t try planting a church.

I remember Hugh Halter saying something pretty close to this recently (I don’t recall if it was at a conference I attended, or if it’s in his excellent book, The Tangible Kingdom).  His point was that it often takes the first couple of years for a church planter to develop enough core friendships of depth in order to even think about going public, but by then the denominational (and often, other partner)  funding has dried up, and the church planter is in a scramble for what to do.  As an added bonus, the church planter is made to feel like a slacker/failure/loser for not having “succeeded” according to a standard he/she didn’t even create.

This is yet another example of Christendom-mentality church mirroring big business in our culture in some pretty unhealthy ways.

Am I off base on this?  Let me know what you think.


3 Comments so far
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I’m just glad to see you’re blogging a good bit again…

You’re absolutely right. But I’m confused… what denomination are you talking about? 🙂

Comment by dockin80

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sadly, this is such a cogent analysis.

It’s a counter-intuitive thing, c.p. is. So many times in the name of viability and sustainability you find yourself selling your soul to the devil just to get another one of those “good families” (h/t http://thesuburbanchristian.blogspot.com/2008/07/suburbia-and-rise-and-fall-of.html) and you walk away with a salty, crappy aftertaste that lingers and says “I feel so fake”.

As one in the trenches who is “a slacker/failure/loser for not having “succeeded” I can speak first hand. BUT

– I wonder. If not sustainability then what are we working towards? It seems new monastic “orders” “initiatives” “house churches” “communities” are a dime a dozen these days and they’re all small, grassroots and not really growing. Perhaps some of the “Christendom-mentality church mirroring big business” thinking is valid?

Great post btw…

Comment by Wayne Park

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