While recognising that new churches emerge in a whole range of ways, Michael Moynagh (in “Church for Every Context”) suggests two models that will often provide the strategy, either a worship-first journey or a serving-first journey.
A worship-first approach provides for opportunities for worship in the hope, and often with the result, that a viable church may emerge. There are different ways in which this can happen, but the point is that the church’s core activity is being provided as a base for the life of an emerging congregation. This may work well, for example, in a new community, when Christians will be amongst those moving in.
However, especially if we are looking to reach the ‘scarcely’ or ‘never’ church, Moynagh rather commends the serving-first approach. “The journey starts with listening to God and to the people the founding community feels called to serve, which is an act of love in itself. The community begins to build loving relationships and engage in acts of service, as Jesus did.” Service, simply defined as “acts of kindness” thus provides a basis for engaging people in church.
As an example Moynagh quotes Barbara Glasson’s bread-making initiative which became Liverpool’s bread church and her comment on the gospel engagement that occurred as people made bread together. He quotes her comment: “Side-by-side encounters are infinitely less threatening than face to face ones.”
Moynagh goes on to suggest that we can identify this approach in Jesus’ ministry. Loving and serving is the starting point that subsequently leads to the challenge to discipleship. After all, as Moynagh comments: “Breaking down barriers between church and life is precisely what Christians are called to do.”