To contrast what type of a church we should plant, here is the contrast of what not to plant….hmmm…more tri-perspectivalism. Most churches error toward one of the perspectives; Normative, Situation or Existential. Normative relates to authority and concern with ‘right thinking’ about doctrine. Situational is concerned with the world and culture around you. Existential is concerned with the person and their feelings/experiences. Here is what an error would look like in EXTREME cases:
Normative Church – Typically these are going to be hyper-orthodox churches who are heavy on doctrine and systematics. The pastor will be a PROPHET and the messages will have great information about the Bible. Typically people are more inclined to attend a debate about paedobaptism then evangelize [cause hey, they are hyper-calvinists].
Situational Church– Either this church has become so absorbed in the culture around them that in order to be ‘relevant’ they have lost any claim to Biblical authority. Or because they don’t like the culture around them, they have created their own subculture with it’s own language, mega-campus so you never have to leave the church because heaven forbid you talk to a ‘sinner’ and catch sin like a virus. The pastor will be a KING.
Existential Church– An existential church is willing to let go of God’s authority (the Bible) in order to offer cheap grace. This church never talks about repentance, hard doctrine but would rather talk about faith, forgiveness and unfortunately this all come without a Jesus as God or the cross. The pastor will be a PRIEST.
Now, the above are extreme cases, I’d say few churches fall into these. Most often a church will get two out of the three. Here are a couple examples of TYPICAL errors a church would fall into.
Normative/Situational– The church preaches messages that are ‘here’s God’s word, now go do it!’ Often a more guilt-centered. Service is joy-less and done from duty. People will have to put on a mask because they know they are not living the way that they are told they should. The preacher is the taskmaster. The preacher must remove themselves from too much interaction with the congregation, or they would discover he is a fraud.
Existential/Normative– My guess is that this is the least common combination. The pastor loves his people, teaches from the Bible but rarely helps the congregation apply it to their life. “They need to figure out how to apply these things themselves!” Right? When difficult teachings come, they are ‘tough love’ at this church. The preacher is the loving professor.
Situational/Existential– The ‘seeker sensitive church’ that preaches ten tips to being a better father. Little feel good messages that people can put in their back pocket and go try at home. Difficult teachings and doctrine is avoided at all costs. Program-driven to create a better experience for people. The preacher is a motivational speaker.