The Trojan Horse is a tale from the Trojan War about a strategy that the Greeks used to enter the city of Troy and ultimately win the war. After a 10-year siege, the Greeks built a huge wooden horse, and hid fighting men inside. The Greeks pretended to sail away from Troy but would return in the night after the Trojans pulled the horse into their city as a victory trophy. That night the Greek fighters snuck out of the horse and opened the gates for the rest of the Greek army to enter the city. The Greeks entered and destroyed Troy, ending the long war.
What does this have to do with Church Planting? There are many challenges for church planters who have a heart to reach those far from God in their city. One of the increasingly complicated challenges is finding a location for the Church to meet. Weather leasing or buying property, church plants are finding it more and more difficult to find a suitable home. Many cities across the US are hostile toward Churches coming to their community, particularly on the coasts.
Unfortunately in many communities churches are seen by the city government, as a source of unwanted traffic, parking problems and a drain on cities tax coffers.
Building owners are also often not excited about churches being in their space. Many don’t understand the church and worry that if there is a financial problem, they would be faced with evicting or foreclosing on a church, which in their mind would be the same as evicting or foreclosing on God Himself. Not something they want to do.
Just like the Greeks, who were desperate to end the war with Troy, churches need to think creatively and develop new approaches to ministry and how they see the church, including it’s buildings. In addition to the unpopularity of church facilities, you also have the reality that church buildings are often not good stewardship. Why? Because with all the cost involved in buying or leasing church space, most church facilities are empty & unused 5 out of 7 days a week.
In recent years creative Church Planters working hard to develop a fresh mindset and new models are emerging. Like the Greeks in their war with Troy, Churches are thinking creatively and having a new impact on their communities.
One new strategy attaches a business engine to the church like a coffee shop or gym that closes down on Sunday to accommodate church services. This brings in revenue as well as provides a natural interface with the local community and those far from God.
One of the most creative models I have seen in recent years is where a church plant will start a for profit real estate corporation. The company then leases a large building and creates a event space that seats 200-500 people in the building, in addition to collaborative work space, retail & maybe even a café. The Church plant becomes one of several tenants in the space that work synergistically.
The Church is the anchor tenant in the event space, but the Real Estate Company also rents the space out for weddings, parties, conference, fundraisers and business events. The beauty of the system is the anchor tenant (Church) has written into their lease that their lease payment is credited based on other event income from the space. As utilization for the space outside of church events increases the church can in a best case scenario be paying zero rent on the space.
Models like this can prove to be great stewardship of a churches financial resources, allowing more money to be allocated to programs that serve people rather then building costs. Additionally this provides an opportunity for a church to interface with the community who may not normally attend church, and serve their needs through events.
Like the Greeks creatively penetrating the City of Troy, the Church needs it’s own Trojan Horse to penetrate the Culture and reach those far from God. Lets think outside the box being as shrewd as serpents and as gentle as doves.