Wednesday, April 20, 2011

God's Not In To Mini-Churches Either

People bash MegaChurches, but I'd suggest God isn't necessarily into MiniChurches either.

There are clearly issues that come with a MegaChurch context. Discipling people becomes more complex, connecting with other people can be more difficult for some and having a real sense of biblical community can be lost too.  But let's not get it twisted, there are also issues in MiniChurch contexts.  Discipling can be complex because it can get separated from evangelism, connecting with people can be more difficult because relationships become ingrown, and true biblical community can be lost because it's solely lived out with people just like ourselves.

There are long lists of issues with either context.  And the lists of benefits for either can be just as long.  But it's not a greater-than battle we ought to fight.  It's not an issue of size.  People might say healthy churches grow larger and thus point to how Jesus preached to thousands of people, the church gatherings in Jerusalem were enormous, or that the Lord "added to their number daily."  On the other hand, others might suggest small is "God's way" because Jesus turned away thousands of people when he preached and the early church met in homes.

I just think we need to be careful throwing negative blanket statements in either direction.  It's not about getting smaller or growing larger.  It's about every individual being faithful to our calling as believers and the truth is there ARE many leaders on both sides of the size equation that are faithfully leading as God desires...and people faithfully living it out under their leadership, too.

The bottom line is the question of whether or not faithfulness is present shouldn't be pointed at anyone but ourselves.  God is working in and through all kinds of different contexts and I'm just trying to stay in step in mine.

Friday, April 15, 2011

9 Things I Would Tell A Church Planter

  1. Be careful of church planting scientists.   Learning everything everyone else has done has benefits, but this can also be dangerous.   God is calling you to begin a new let it be new. Walk in faith and be very careful of those that will pressure you to walk in presumption. 
  2. Only say what you are doing and explain why.  If you do things differently churched people will ask you why you're not doing what you're not doing.  Don't fall into the trap of answering that - it creates a lot more work and confusion. 
  3. Be prepared to have people you thought were with you, leave.  And don't be surprised if they don't leave quietly.
  4. You will have to take massive steps of faith if you want to see God work out the vision He's placed in you.  If you are not at a point where you can take these, rethink planting.
  5. Plant a church in a community, not your head.  Every community is different and thus will require you to live out eternal truths in unique ways.  If you move to a new place and try to force everything into a structure in your head, you will probably fail.
  6. Invest in a few rather than seeking to attract many.  You are building a culture and in order to do that it's far better to have a few people really get it than a mass that sort of do.
  7. There will be times when you will wonder if you're the only one that actually believes in what you're doing.  People will come along in time and will ultimately help shape the vision, but some need to see and be a part of it for a period of time before they'll understand.
  8. Learn from criticism.  You will be criticized, people will question you and will even leave with wrong assumptions about what you are doing or what you value.  Learn from this.  Don't get bitter at them, God uses these situations to sharpen your vision and especially how you articulate it.  
  9. Give people you trust a voice into the vision.  Your vision will shape over time and these people will help shape it.  Plus, they will have better thoughts than you.  

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Main Point

Today I taught on Ephesians 4:17-32.  Up to this point in chapter four Paul has described how we are to live in diverse unity.  We are all one, but we are all unique as well.  When every believer embraces their uniqueness, the body of Christ builds itself up (v.16).

In verses (17-32) Paul makes a very strong point: our lives ought not look like the lives of people that don't believe in Jesus.  He is basically saying, "Don't live like you don't know better."  Be we cannot be different by merely abstaining from things people do in culture.  We must also do things they do not do.

Jesus certainly abstained from participating in certain cultural norms, but this is not what made him stand out.  People were drawn to him because he did things others were not doing.  We should do the same.  For example, Paul says in 4:28 that we are to labor, earn money, SO THAT we can give more.  That's different.  I can only imagine what would happen if all believers had this perspective on their work....

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Value Clash Hinders Sustainable Mentorship

Let’s be honest: connecting people of different generations is not the easiest thing to do.  We face obstacles like core values being different, older people being intimidated or frustrated by the younger generations, younger people not feeling the value of having an older person in their life…to either generation not knowing how to connect with the other.  There are ways we can help with these things (for more on that see chapters 7 and 8 of this book), but there is another issue that is just as obvious – if not more.  We just don’t talk about it as openly.
Younger people are desperate for an experience they know is Divine.  Of course not all desire this, but many just want to experience God, walk with Him daily, be a part of what He’s doing and be used by Him.  Sure, experience based pursuits can be incredibly dangerous if they are separated from truth.  But experiencing God can also be rooted in truth.  And this is what I find many college age people seeking.
And herein lies the problem.  It seems like there is a lack of older adults that authentically experience God – daily.  Many of them, if you ask them directly, have a hard time pointing out anything specific they feel like God is teaching them or working on in their life today.  Some can’t explain their own testimony of how and why they personally decided to follow Jesus – or why they do today.  Much of this is due to, and in some ways this will be an over simplification, older generations not being experience based.  They can know scripture, be grounded in doctrine, etc. but as I talk with more and more pastors working with older adults the lack of experiencing God in their lives is a huge issue.
Bridging these generational values together (a high value on experience with a high value on intellectual knowledge of Scripture) is what’s needed.  But if these tensions aren’t helped the differences actually hinder  sustainable mentor/disciple making relationships.  And, I’m not okay with that.  More to come…