Church Planting, or Church Plantations? image

Church Planting, or Church Plantations?

Reading into Freudian slips is perhaps not the best way of forming your missiology. But this one, as described by Christena Cleveland, should make a lot of us take notice, even if cities in the UK are somewhat less ethnically divided than they are in the US. She writes:

It is happening all over the U.S. In Seattle, Minneapolis, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Boston, Charlotte and many other cities, I’ve seen predominantly white, wealthy suburban churches take an imperialistic glance at the urban centre, decide that they are called to “take back the city” and then proceed with all of the honour and finesse of a military invasion.

I recently conversed with an urban Latina pastor about this issue. While talking about the ways in which non-indigenous urban church planting negatively affects a community, she non-consciously misspoke, referring to “urban church planting” initiatives run by predominantly white suburban churches as “urban church plantations.” She kept right on talking, seemingly unaware of her Freudian slip.

But she’s right. So much of the urban church planting I’ve seen simply replicates and extends the power inequities between whites and people of colour that were cemented years ago on plantations. Like the suburban pastors in Buffalo, many urban church planters charge into cities with blatant disregard for the great ministry work that is already being done by under-resourced pastors and churches, blind to their own privilege and cultural incompetency, and accompanied by the arrogant empire-based idea that more money means more effective ministry.

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