Missional Communities And The Gospel: “Don’t Just Make It Clear, Make It Real”

April 30, 2012 at 7:29 am

Francois de la Rochefoucauld famously said: “The only thing constant in life is change.” Life is not static, it is dynamic. We mark the passage of time through the changing of the seasons, we measure our lives by the roadside monuments to change; births, marriages, career changes wins and losses.

God tells us that a life following Jesus is also a process of change. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:18 that those who belong to Jesus are being transformed “into the same image” (the image of Jesus; we are being made more like Him), from one degree or glory to another. In other words, not only have we been changed at salvation, we are being changed as we continue to follow Jesus. As much as I’d like to stop an marvel how it is that Paul can say we have any degree of glory from which to be transformed in the first place, I want to focus instead on the idea that he simply expects continued transformation to be part of the Christian life.

Scripture uses the imagery of growth and maturation to describe the process we often call “sanctification.” In short, salvation is pictured as a new birth (John 3:1-15). Paul says that the church works together so that we can all attain “to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13). The goal is that everyone will be “presented mature in Christ” (Colossians 1:28). We know that this process of change, of becoming more like Jesus will not be complete until “he appears” and “we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).

All of this seems to me, to imply that the Christian life should be a process of active growth. When children are passive, when they simply sit and watch television all the time, they don’t develop the way they’re supposed to. Metabolism and growth slow. I worry that we have created a church culture where the excuse “oh, he’s just a baby Christian” has become all too common. I worry that we have created a church culture that has lulled people into passivity, making them dependent on on paid professionals and isolating them from the power of the Gospel in everyday life.

In his wonderful series on Preaching To The Heart, argues that the point of preaching is not just to make the Truth clear but to make it real. In other words, preachers should be applying the Gospel to the motivational structures of the heart while people are there listening. If you’re not sure what he means, I highly suggest listening to this series. But I’ve been thinking a lot about the implications of Keller’s idea. I believe that it applies, not just to preaching but to the very ways in which we “do church.”

I’m not convinced that there is only one right model of church. In fact, I believe in contextualization and I love the fact that the Church is such a beautiful tapestry of different backgrounds and approaches all coming together. And yet, I do have lots of reservations about the “come and see/bigger is always better/consumer-driven” approach that seems to have become the default. I worry that it simply reinforces the false division between the “sacred” and the “secular” and enforces the false notions that the “spiritual” aspects of life are our “quiet times” and what happens at the church building. We see lots of teachers making God’s truth clear to people, but I’m not sure we really see it becoming “real” to people.

If you’re not sure what Keller means by the distinction between making it “clear” and making it “real,” Keller references Jonathan Edwards’ A Divine and Supernatural Light, where Edwards argues:

“There is a twofold knowledge of good of which God has made the mind of man capable. The first, that which is merely notional … And the other is, that which consists in the sense of the heart; as when the heart is sensible of pleasure and delight in the presence of the idea of it.  In the former is exercised merely…the understanding, in distinction from the… disposition of the soul …Thus there is a difference between having an opinion, that God is holy and gracious, and having a sense of the loveliness and beauty of that holiness and grace.  There is a difference between having a rational judgment that honey is sweet and having a sense of its sweetness.  A man may have the former that knows not how honey tastes; but a man cannot have the latter unless he has an idea of the taste of honey in his mind.”

In other words, someone can intellectually know that honey is sweet without having tasted its sweetness. But you cannot taste its sweetness without also knowing intellectually that honey is sweet. In fact, once you’ve tasted it, the intellectual knowledge becomes “more real.” Psalm 34:8 urges us to “taste and see that the LORD is good!” I am concerned that our passive approach to church (sit in a pew, sit in a class, sit in a study, etc.) has led to many people being able to intellectually describe God’s sweetness without having ever actually tasted. We need to do a better job in the church of creating contexts where people have the chance to actually taste God’s sweetness, to see Him in action, to rely on His power.

Much of Jesus’ ministry happened “along the way,” and in community. In fact, as Jesus traveled through life with those He was discipling, many of his “ministry opportunities” might have been what we would consider distractions. I’m becoming convinced that we need to marinate people in the Gospel, get them outside of the church walls in community and on mission (yes, this is an argument for missional communities).

If the goal of the way we do things is not just to make the Gospel clear but real, then I believe Sunday morning can no longer be the organizing principle of our local churches. Before you jump to condemnation, I’m not saying we shouldn’t value Gathering, and preaching and singing and prayer and fellowship or even church structure, just that it doesn’t seem to be the best way to make the Gospel real in people’s lives.

We need to intentionally place people where they are living in community and on mission while becoming fluent in the Gospel. This happens best in smaller groups outside the church walls and helps people come to grips with what it means for the Gospel to be real. We desperately need the Gospel to live in community, where “that person” pushes our buttons and my coffee table was just broken and people didn’t clean up after themselves and where people can speak the truth in love to me and we can bear one another’s burdens. We desperately need the Gospel to live on mission, living everyday life with Gospel intentionality, learning to live through the lens of missionary eyes.

I don’t have time or space to fully unpack the idea of missional communities (or GCM’s as some call them) here, but I do want to urge church planters, pastors and Christians in general to ask: is the Gospel simply “clear” in my life or has it become “real.” In order for this to happen, I believe we need to move beyond Sunday-driven church as we’ve known it and redeem the everyday, where God seems to do most of His work already.

  • Visit the GCM Collective website
  • Read Total Church by Steve Timmis and Tim Chester

New Music: The Digital Age

April 27, 2012 at 9:15 am

So, apparently I’m late to this new music party but some of the former members of the David Crowder Band have, after that group’s demise, formed a new group called The Digital Age. Coming right out of the gates with t-shirts and merchandise galore, the band has released a couple of videos from some recent rehearsals.

Comparisons to DCB will be unavoidable and unfair. Listen first.

Here is “All The Poor And Powerless” followed by their take on “How Great Thou Art.” What do you think?





Recommended Music: The Followers, “Wounded Healer”

April 25, 2012 at 12:20 pm

For all of the music that I listen to, I’m really pretty picky. For all of the albums and new artists that I browse, few of them actually end up as part of my regular listening rotation. But the ones that do oftentimes do so quite quickly. It’s almost like listening to music that you already loved, you just didn’t know it yet. I like to think of this as being “comfortable” with certain artists and their sounds. Not in a complacent way but in a way that, connects with certain artists and their music like old friends.

I would describe very little of the music I listen to like this and I would describe even less of the “Christian” music I listen to this way. In fact, for as picky as I am in general with music, I am even moreso when it comes to “Christian” music. So much of what is identified as “Christian” music falls in to one of two primary categories: 1) propaganda or 2) “Praise and Worship.” That is, it is either geared specifically as a “trojan horse” to get a positive message out to the masses or it is specifically designed for corporate singing. Top this off with the fact that I care a lot about God’s truth, so when some music is identified with Christianity, I am going to pour through the lyrics with my Bible in hand. Especially if it’s geared towards the church.

With this being the case, it is rare indeed to find an album that genuinely flows from a heart of faith through honest, original artistic expression. Far too often, it seems, the music simply because the medium for the message; almost as if the music were an afterthought. But we forget that the medium is the message. Once you’ve fallen in love with music, it’s hard to stomach much of what Christians try to pass off. We need more music that’s not only theologically rich but musically moving.

And yet, in recent years, we are seeing a resurgence (initially led by RUF) of music coming from the church for the church that not only focuses on content but music. Artists like Bifrost Arts, Sojourn Music, Opiate Mass and The Welcome Wagon are reshaping music for the church with an emphasis on artistic excellence. In other words, this is music that’s not just about the content but about the music as well. And now, with their album Wounded Healer, The Followers enter in to this exciting mix.

Featuring Josh White of Telecast and Eric Earley of Blitzen Trapper and based out of Door of Hope Church in Portland, OR, the band strives to “to create a 70′s infused worship experience” which they call “neo-gospel.” Drawing on a folky, alt. country/blues/soul foundation, the group has created songs that are not only creatively challenging but singable; a balance not easily struck. While there are hints of Telecast and Blitzen Trapper, The Followers have presented an album with a unified, cohesive sound. Being retro without being nostalgic or gimmicky, The Followers intertwined several strands of roots music into something both comfortable and challenging.

There is a theme of experiential relationship with Jesus throughout which is enhanced by the urgency of some of the arrangements. Drawing on the blues and soul traditions, The Followers have created an album in which the music drives home the words. Truth about Jesus isn’t just meant to be understood but experienced. If our music isn’t passionate, why would anyone trust that we really believe the words we sing?

This is an album I’m definitely looking forward to spending more time with.

Preview the album:

  • Download Wounded Healer from Noisetrade.
  • Download Wounded Healer from BandCamp.

Church Planting Things I Wish They’d Told Me (5): Don’t Plant To Prove Yourself

April 25, 2012 at 6:11 am

Nearly four years in to planting Church of the Cross, I’m at an interesting place in ministry. I’m no longer really considered a church planter. After all, we’re nearly four years old and we’re larger than the “mean” church in America but smaller than the “average church. And yet, wer’e still not considered a “fully established” church by the establishment (whatever that means). We’re at that in-between phase where we’re too large to rent some spaces, but can’t afford our own building. Lots of stuff to think through. Plus, I’ve had lots of time to reflect, not only on our successes but our failures and I’ve had ample opportunity to consider things I wish someone had told me in the early stages of church planting.

One of those things I wish someone had told me was not to plant a church in order to prove myself. I’ve come to accept the fact that many church planters are pretty driven people. Lots of ex-jocks, MMA fans and entrepreneuriral types. People I don’t typically connect with. In fact, I was the punk rock skateboarding kid who distanced himself from those types. And yet, I never really realized how much I had in common with them until I entered church planting culture. Though it takes different manifestations, I’ve come to think that it’s some of the same competitive spirit that drives the ex-jocks and the ex-skateboarders.

But what does all of this philosophizing about my past  and competitive nature have to do with church planting, you might be asking yourself? Everything. I’ve come to realize that I along with many other church planters, planted at least in part, to prove myself. It wasn’t really that anyone was saying I couldn’t do it. I just wanted people to know I could. I worry that this drive to prove self is a driving force in lots of church planters. Either we’re holding on to past glories, trying to prove others wrong or just prove to ourselves that we can do it. But either way, I worry that far too many of us enter church planting out of some need to prove ourselves, to show that we can do it, to put others in their proper place. We’ll show them! It probably is never expressed this crassly, but the intent is often the same.

If we couple this competitive drive found in many church planters with false measures of success or failure, we’re concocting a veritable bitch’s brew (I just wanted to use a Miles Davis reference in a church planting post). If faster growth looks better from the outside (even if its not healthy on the inside), and if more people equals better, then guess what goals a driven guy is going to pursue? And, once a driven guy gets a challenge and measurable goals, the line between drive and competition can be a blurry one. I remember, a couple of years ago, a church planter moved to our side of town with the pronouncement that “No one was killing it” in this area. Well, maybe none of the church plants in this area exploding in to mega-church seedlings, but that doesn’t mean that no one was seeing success.

The danger goes deeper than just a competitive spirit among churches. If you give a driven guy a clear challenge and clear ways to measure success or failure in meeting that challenge, it is quite likely that that driven guy will, at some point, begin to wrap his identity up in ministry. I know that when I feel particularly driven on a project, my sense of self-worth can often be tied to how well or poorly I feel I’m doing at said project. When it goes well, I feel better about myself. When it stinks, I believe I stink. I’ve seen several church planters and pastors tie their own sense of identity to their ministries.

I wish someone had warned me about the dangers of tying my identity up with ministry. I wish someone had sat me down, looked me in the eyes and challenged me about when the last time I had been moved to tears by the Gospel. Was I planting because I simply overflowed with Gospel gratitude which fueled my obedience? I wish someone had had driven me deep in to the Gospel so that I planted out of an overflow of security and identity rather than a deficit. I wish someone had told me about the balance of humble confidence/meek boldness that comes only through Jesus life pouring through us in spite of us.

I wish that someone had reminded me that the indicative precedes the imperative in God’s order. We don’t obey in order to be accepted by God, we obey because we are accepted. God didn’t come to the Israelites while they were slaves in Egypt and tell them that if they obeyed His rules, then He would redeem them. No, He redeemed them, and then reminded them of who He was and what He had done for them and told them that because of these things, they should live according to certain principles. They should be motivated out of gratitude rather than obligation.

Grace is easy to understand but hard to grasp. There is nothing that we can do to earn God’s favor. Our obedience, our leadership, our church planting ninja skills do not merit anything before God. God is gracious so that we don’t have to prove ourselves and I wish someone had told me that planting out of an overflow of gratitude is more powerful and long-lasting than a fleeting grasp on past glories and proving people wrong or even proving something to myself.

God is gracious, so I don’t have to prove myself. Especially in ministry.

  • Read Church Planting Things I Wish They’d Told Me (1): Start With Discipleship
  • Read Church Planting Things I Wish They’d Told Me (2): Define Yourself Quickly And Stick To It
  • Read Church Planting Things I Wish They’d Told Me (3): You’ll Probably Never Be A Mega-Church And It’s OK To Grow Slowly
  • Read Church Planting Things I Wish They’d Told Me (4): Don’t Plant Out Of Opposition

Church Planting Things I Wish They’d Told Me (4): Don’t Plant Out Of Opposition

April 24, 2012 at 7:24 am

I continually marvel at where God has led me in life. I never planned on going to seminary, much less becoming a pastor. In fact, when God finally did take me to seminary, I kept thinking about how good I would have it after I received my M.Div, got my Ph.D. and got to teach people all of the cool stuff about God without having to deal with anyone’s real problems like pastors do. Then God broke my heart for the Church and for discipleship and changed the course of my life forever.

Not only did I never set out to be a pastor, I never expected to be a church planter. I don’t fit many of the models I’ve always (rightfully and wrongfully) attached to church planters. Now, nearly four years in to planting Church of the Cross, I’ve had lots of time to reflect, react and consider what I wish I had known while planting. So I decided to write a series on things I wish people had told me while church planting. First, we considered the need to start with discipleship, then we looked at the need to define yourself quickly and stick to it and yesterday we were challenged by the fact that most of us will never be mega-church pastors and not only is that OK, most of our churches will grow slowly.

Today, I want to share one that’s haunted me personally over the years. I have come to realize that I can tend to be a bit cynical, oftentimes framing things in a negative light rather than a positive one. I’m not making light of my tendencies, just sharing them with the world wide webs for all to know and judge. But honestly, I have come to realize that I am more prone to introduce a point by criticizing others than finding points of agreement.

This, of course, is a primary danger facing many church planters and will probably have to color the way you read this post (along with all of the others in this series). This may not be true of other church planters, but I know that one of the reasons I felt compelled to plant a church was because I could see where others had gone wrong. This, of course wasn’t (at least I thought) out of pride but biblical conviction. I saw what I felt to be the errors of those on both sides and I was sure I would plant a church “in the middle.” In our area of the country, there are churches that pride themselves on “going deep” into the Word who don’t even know the names of their neighbors, or there are churches that are thousands of people large who will openly admit that they don’t publicly teach anything above a seventh-grade level. So, we were going to model our church plant after the song we teach our children: “Deep and Wide.” We were going to openly and honestly people challenge people to go “deeper” into the Word and “wider” out into culture.

While I still believe in that vision, I have come to realize that I was planting out of opposition to the mainstream mega-church mentality as much as planting for the right vision that I believe God gave us. In other words, it was natural for me, especially in the early days, to frame our church plant by what it would not be; by what we would be against, as much as what we would be “for.”

I wish someone had told me in those early days to search the Scriptures, to understand the Gospel’s impact and implications for the Phoenix suburbs positively more than just pointing out what was wrong with other churches. This isn’t to say that church planters may not be able to accurately point out where the “mainstream” church has gone wrong. Instead, it is to say that we should not plant churches based on what we’re against. If that’s the motivation, then all we ever have to do is not be the other guy. If you plant out of opposition to mega-churches, you will probably be a small church. If you plant out of opposition to shallow churches, you will be quite intellectual. If you plant out of opposition to program-driven churches, your church will probably not have enough structure.

If you spend a lot of time and energy defining yourself by “what you’re not,” then you are creating an “us vs. them” mentality and the church already has more than enough of that. Plus, love believes the best about others. You may have significant differences with other churches, but chances are, they’re still family. You may want to consider them distant cousins rather than brother or sister, but they’re still family. Church planting should further the Kingdom, not drive deeper wedges.

I wish someone had told me to plant out of an overflow of the Gospel, to clearly be shaped by Scriptural convictions and to learn how to communicate those convictions regularly, clearly and humbly. This way, people will see the differences themselves. They don’t need you to always point out why you’re right (more on proving yourself in an upcoming post).

If you plant out of opposition, then all you have to do is not be the other guy and that is never enough. The Gospel reveals where things need to change but it also provides us with the positive motivation for change rather than just the negative. I wish someone had told me to plant out of an overflow of God’s work in my own life and community rather than just understanding (rightly and wrongly) where others were wrong.

  • Read Church Planting Things I Wish They’d Told Me (1): Start With Discipleship
  • Read Church Planting Things I Wish They’d Told Me (2): Define Yourself Quickly And Stick To It
  • Read Church Planting Things I Wish They’d Told Me (3): You’ll Probably Never Be A Mega-Church And It’s OK To Grow Slowly
  • Read Church Planting Things I Wish They’d Told Me (5): Don’t Plant To Prove Yourself

Church Planting Things I Wish They’d Told Me (3): You’ll Probably Never Be A Mega-Church And It’s OK To Grow Slowly

April 23, 2012 at 6:47 am

So, nearly four years ago, we planted Church of the Cross. During that time, I’ve had lots of time to reflect, considering what we’ve learned and what we might have done differently. I’ve also considered several things I wish people had told me when we were setting out to plant. First, we considered the need to start with discipleship, then we looked at the need to define yourself quickly and stick to it.

Church planting is an interesting culture, full of interesting paradoxes and sometimes even contradictions and far too often, not unlike other entrepreneurial crowds. Though we all know that succes in God’s kingdom is not measured the same as in the world of business, we insist on measuring success in the church by business models. We embrace the notion that bigger is always better and we find ourselves entwined in the false expectation that we will naturally grow as large as possible as quickly as possible.

Not only does this false pressure come from within, it is often reinforced from without. Introduce any group of pastors to one another and guess what one of the first questions invariably seems to be: how large is your church? Not only that, if you’re involved in a denomination or church planting network, you are bound to have the internal pressure compounded by outside people asking for regular reports on your numbers.

And nearly every church planter believes in themselves. Otherwise they wouldn’t have set out to plant a church. But, the truth is that most of us will never be mega-church pastors and most of our churches will grow pretty slowly. We need to be told that it’s simply not realistic. Michael Bell has discussed the reality of America’s church numbers:

Imagine you are looking down a very, very long street, and all the churches of U.S. are lined up along the left side of the street from smallest to largest. In behind each church are all their Sunday morning attenders.

If you counted the grand total of everyone standing behind each church and then divided this number by the total number of churches that you see on this very long street, you would come up with a “mean” or “average” size of 184. “Mean” is usually what we mean of when we think of “average”. But this number of 184 is a very misleading number.

Lets say you start walking down the street, passing the churches with 5 people on a Sunday morning, 10 people, 15 people, 20 people. You continue walking until you have passed half of all the churches in America. Half of the churches in the U.S. are now behind you, half are still in front. The “average” church that you are standing in front of is called the “median” church. You look to see how many people are lined up behind it, and you see 75 people. That is right, half the churches in the United States have less than 75 people.

Bell continues:

So, you continue walking, past the churches of 80, 90, 100, 110. You walk until you have passed 90% of all the churches. You look to your left and you see 350 people lined up behind this church. Much to your surprise, although you have passed 90% of all the churches, over half of the churchgoers are still in front of you!

Bell goes on to dissect some of these numbers, noting that: “half of all those who attend church are in less that 10% of the churches” in the United States. The “numbers = success” and “celebrity” cultures that we have built in church planting are not only unhelpful, they are unhealthy and instill false expectations in countless church planters. We need a culture that celebrates the pastor who faithfully serves day in and day out instead of the guy who can simply pack out a room.

Most of us will never be mega-church pastors. This is normal and it’s OK. Most of our churches will not have explosive growth. This is normal and it’s actually probably more healthy in the longrun. We need to establish a culture of church planting that measures in more than the 3Bs (Buildings, Butts and Budgets). We need to celebrate faithfulness more than celebrity and we need to instill realistic goals and timelines before we set up another set of church planters up for undue stress and unrealistic expectations.

  • Read Church Planting Things I Wish They’d Told Me (1): Start With Discipleship
  • Read Church Planting Things I Wish They’d Told Me (2): Define Yourself Quickly And Stick To It
  • Read Church Planting Things I Wish They’d Told Me (4): Don’t Plant Out Of Opposition
  • Read Church Planting Things I Wish They’d Told Me (5): Don’t Plant To Prove Yourself

Church Planting Things I Wish They’d Told Me (2): Define Yourself Quickly And Stick To It

April 19, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Yesterday, I started a new series about things I wish someone had told me when we set out to plant Church of the Cross nearly four years ago. These are things I’ve been thinking about for some time now, partly because I get the opportunity to talk with a lot of pastors and church planters and partly because I spend more time than I probably should in reflection/introspection. Hopefully, some of these things will be helpful to those who are at some stage of planting a church now, or even possibly anyone thinking/praying through what it may look to transition an existing church to more of a GCM approach.

Yesterday, we talked about the necessity of starting with discipleship because , if discipleship is not at the center of our churches, something else will be. If we don’t start with discipleship, it can be very difficult to find a way to get it in the backdoor once we’ve established a church identity or culture.

And it’s that idea of church identity/culture that I want to think about now. Everyone has a distinct personality. That’s not only OK, it’s beautiful. It’s what makes us unique; the little quirks, the things we like or don’t, the way we inflect words or the funny little expression. After having served in some form of “paid ministry” for nearly 10 years now, I’ve come to realize that, just as everyone has a distinct personality, so every local church has, for lack of a better term, a personality and that’s not only OK, it’s beautiful.

Every church has (or should have) its own personality. This includes big things like doctrinal stances but also smaller (or seemingly smaller, even though everything a church “does” should be driven by theology) things like the way we gather, or sing or organize ourselves. This, of course, isn’t grounds to say that every local church has the right to define for themselves everything completely, there are certain non-negotiables to being a “Christian, Evangelical” church but I’m not going to hit on those today. Instead, I want to think about the “personality” of each local church.

It all too often seems to me that the machine in which we operate “church planting” tries to reduce everything down to a formula, down to “do these steps and you will grow a large church quickly.” It’s not wrong to want to reach people but it’s not right that the formula we tend to give church planters means that there is a shocking sterility and sameness to many of our churches. Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost tell of traveling to do research for their book The Shaping of Things To Come, saying that one of their “lasting impressions” of the many, many churches they visited all over the world was that:

“by and large, in spite of language differences, they tended to be invariably dull and rather predictable. They had a disturbing propensity to look, feel, and act in basically the same way. They sang the same basic songs and followed the same basic order of service in their corporate worship. The sheer predictability of it all was quite shocking and deeply disturbing. It sometimes seems as if there is some form of “template” at work in evangelical churches all over the world, regardless of language and some culture.”

I suspect that at least part of the reason Frost and Hirsch felt this is that, to a large degree, there is a certain template. We clear expectations of what church should “look like” and these expectations are largely institutional and pragmatic. And, as a church planter, if I’m led to believe that I need to grow as big as I can as fast as I can, then of course I’m going to go with the template. After all, “it works,” right?

But, practically, when this becomes the case, much of the passion, zeal, and specific vision that led someone to plant a church in the first place simply gets squashed. If the goal is to grow as big and fast as possible, then our mentality will invariably be that we need to hold on to people as tightly and as long as possible. The unavoidable result is that something in that initial vision gets sacrificed as soon as someone who doesn’t like “that piece” threatens to leave, whatever their particular pet peeve might be. The result will nearly always be to come as close as possible to the lowest common denominator on everything because that will keep the most people for as long as possible.

I wish that someone had told me to be as clear on Church of the Cross’ particular vision as soon as possible and to humbly but boldly stick to that. Stick to it. Be open to biblical criticism. Be humble enough to receive critique and search it and maybe apply it, but stick to your vision because if you don’t define it, someone else most certainly will. This has tremendous implications. It means that, for the long-term health of the church plant, we must be willing to let people go. It even means that there may be times when we recommend people leave. Not because we’ve got it all figured out, not to be exclusionary but because every church has a particular “personality,” not every local church is meant for every person and that’s not only OK, it’s beautiful.

This means that you must be clear on your theological convictions and how those inform what and why you do things. It also means that you must be willing and patient enough to explain (over and over again) why you do things the way you do. If you don’t know why or can’t explain it, you probably shouldn’t be doing it.

This means that we will most likely grow slower (more on that in coming days) but, Lord willing, healthier. I wish someone had told me to have the humble confidence to define who Church of the Cross would become, not in terms of what we were against but what we were for and to love people enough to realize that, not every person will “get it” or even “fit in,” and that’s OK. We should not intentionally exclude people, even if they do things differently, but if the goal is to grow as fast as possible, then sooner or later, part of what makes a local church unique is going to be lost in the pursuit of numbers.

When we ask people to change aspects of their personality to suit us, we call it emotional abuse. When we ask church planters and church planters to change aspects of a local church’s personality, we call it “church growth.”

  • Read Church Planting Things I Wish They’d Told Me (1): Start With Discipleship.
  • Read Church Planting Things I Wish They’d Told Me (3): You’ll Probably Never Be A Mega-Church And It’s OK To Grow Slowly
  • Read Church Planting Things I Wish They’d Told Me (4): Don’t Plant Out Of Opposition
  • Church Planting Things I Wish They’d Told Me (5): Don’t Plant To Prove Yourself