Strategy and context in church planting

David L WatsonSmall church, mega church, program church, organic church—what form of church is most effective. Wrong question says David Watson. You don't conquer a swamp with tanks. You adapt your strategy to the context.

When I first went to India almost 20 years ago, a very wise worker said to me, “You can't change Indian culture; you have to fit into it.” In the beginning I thought this was about my culture stress related to learning new language and culture. Now, I know it was about much more than how I talk, eat, or go to the bathroom.

The structure of church required to self-replicate in India is determined by Indian cultural and community structures, not by the structure of church with which I am comfortable. As a matter of fact, it is almost impossible for me to determine the structure that will work. My strategy, therefore, must be flexible and determined by what the local people require in order to continue functioning within their community structures.

It is the structure of the community that determines the kind of church to be planted and the strategies to be used to reach the community. If you believe in only one kind of church, or if you understand only a few styles of church and allow these tool structures to determine your strategies, then you will fail more often than succeed in church planting. Success will be found in creative and intentional diversity of strategies and churches.

David L Watson

David and Jan Watson feature in David Garrison's Church Planting Movements. When Watson reported to his mission agency that they were seeing hundreds of new churches planted and thousands of new believers, the mission was skeptical. So he told them, Come and see. They did and the rest is history.