In the summer, I began to put together some resources under the umbrella “Church In a Box.” I was prompted to do this by two things. First of all, we were engaging in some outreach during the Commonwealth Games, we did not know where people would come from and go back to. We did not know what would happen if they became Christians and whether they would find churches to go to. I started thinking “What if they have no local church to join? What if they had to in effect start church from scratch?”
Secondly, back towards the end of the pandemic measures in Britain, our church tried something a little different to help people move back to in person gathering. It was called Raw Church and basically it was about facilitating people coming together in small groups (we still had the rule of six) to eat together, pray, have some teaching etc. I’m particularly grateful to the elders at Church Central South, especially Rich Pitt for being willing to take risks and think creatively and pastorally.
The Raw Church experience has I think also encouraged people to think about what smaller, simpler, swifter church planting might look like and Church in a Box is really a contribution to this. It’s rough and ready, not particularly sophisticated but it pulls together some of the key ingredients that go into the basics of local church life.
So, Church In A Box is first and foremost there to help those who out of necessity or choice are in effect pioneer planters, starting something from scratch without all of the traditional infrastructure and resources you might expect. I believe it will also be helpful for churches that are considering ways of multiplying through planting. Perhaps the simplest and swiftest way of planting is to go small. Why not set apart a couple of families and individuals to meet together in a home in their community. If you go down this route, you are welcome to make use of the resources here. All I ask in return is that you join in. Give me some feedback about what worked well and where the challenges were and also please do link me up with your own resources as you develop them so that I can share them.
However, I am also aware that there are other reasons why local church leaders are looking for resources. These are the kinds of things that go beyond what you are trained for at Theological College. Gareth Russell touches on some of these things in a Twitter thread here.
Now, I’m not quite sure that we want to be creating new parachurch organisations or giving existing ones additional things to do -and in the end these kinds of things boil down to having people able to do them and others willing to pay them for doing it. Furthermore, I think that one of the reasons that there isn’t a one stop shop for all that Gareth is talking about is that he brings together some quite disparate things that will depend upon your context and outlook. For example, I’m not going to be able to give you detailed resources about p/a and music via Church in a Box because your approach and context will differ. A house church isn’t really going to need p/a or have enough people to start worrying about rotas. A lot of that stuff also comes under common grace.
However, I think there is something in the point that churches benefit from resourcing and equipping that goes beyond training a pastor to preach. And whilst the resources on the Church In a Box pages are primarily aimed at those who are in a house church type context, some of them are applicable to smaller churches in more conventional contexts. So, if you are leading a small church, then please take a look and raid Church In A Box for whatever you find useful.