Partying: Relationship and Task in Church Planting


After 9.5 years of church planting, I'm going to post some thoughts on here from time to time about aspects of Church planting. Most of them will be mistakes, things not to do :-)

First up partying. If you asked me, as I know you want to, 'Jason what is one of the most important things for planting a church that you have learned?', I'd reply. Make sure you party, celebrate, eat meals together as much as you can. In fact I think our church has been built on a foundation of relationships over meals, and parties, and celebtrations.

From the day I became a christian I have been involved in churches that were highly relational, and centred around hospitality. We're relational beings. Even in the 8 years I was an investment broker/planner, I got most of my most enjoyable business done through relationships, with meals, breakfasts, coffees with people.

But partying with people isn't enough. Parties are not mission in totality, they have a counterpart, a dance partner, another side to the coin...action.

If you look at the diagram above, it shows a possible and limted interplay between task and relationship, from which you might get the following:

1. A very high focus on relationship, can make getting anything done harder. I've been in groups and seen groups like this. They might be recovering from task focused groups, or they might be people senstive to any task, but often they can be frustrating to some people, as nothing gets done.

2. Then if you focus too much on tasks, you get stuff done at the expense of relationship, people become a means to an end. People can feel they only have value whilst doing stuff.

Throw into this people who are super senstive to being asked to do anything, and the opposite types who are more into getting things done, and people start qouting bible verses about Mary and Martha at each other! And in the real world there often seems a trade off, between the two. Push one more and it affects the other.

As we seek to plant churches, grow christian communities, you cannot operate in one mode of interaction, but the correlation between task and relationship varies depending on context. I think relationship and task might go together this way:

1. High Relationship/Low Task: There are times when we just need to relate, to be, and not do. We do this in our church in the summer and Christmas, and seasons of the year, dialing down activities, to make as much space as possible for relationship.

2. High Task/Lower relationship: We have action to take, work to do, and unashamedly will say, come on help, get stuck in. Asking people to be inovovled in the mission of church is not abusive but vital to building and getting anything done. If the pendulum was too far over in the task area it might be in danger of moving too far into the relational one. We still have a mission to acheive.

3. Variations of these: Some things are worth taking longer over and spending more time on together. We also have seasons in life and seasons in our communities, and seasons in the year.

And it's a leaderhsip skill to discern what the season is. And yet in it all to make sure you are having fun, and relating and partying, and celebrating life together.

so how have you experience task and relationship, do you have any other metaphors, how do you negotiate/navigate this dynamic?