I used to care A LOT about politics. I served as President of the College Young Republicans and, for a while, I even wanted to be a lobbyist. But, gradually, over the years, things have changed. My life is not demonstrably different under a Republican or Democrat President and I’m no longer registered as a Republican. Frankly, I’ve lost faith in the power of politics for any meaningful change. But me being jaded about politics is not really what I wanted to think about today.
As I’ve watched the lead-up to the Republican primaries, I’ve been struck by just how unoriginal the candidates are (with the exception of Ron Paul who is not the subject of this post). As each candidate one-ups the others and tell me why they’re the best, the main theme that seems to emerge across the board is that each of the Republican candidates is NOT President Obama. And at the end of the day, that’s all they have to do. At the end of 8 years of President Bush, all the Democrats had to do was run a candidate that WASN’T Bush. It was only to their benefit that they ran an extremely charismatic politician who iced his message with hope of change. But the truth of the matter is that he simply WASN’T Bush and the Republican candidates AREN’T Obama.
It’s disheartening when our politicians run on the fact that they aren’t like the other candidate, but that’s what it’s come to. But, in reality, it’s not all that different from the genesis of many church plants. I’ve been thinking of the idea of church planting lately, especially in Suburbia.
It is not uncommon for a church plant to basically be the result of disgruntled people leaving one church and simply NOT wanting to be like the church they left, so they plant a church. The result is that the mission of the new church is simply that they don’t have to be like the old church. That’s it. Therefore, once they quickly realize this goal, they’ve “succeeded.” The drive to reach people and become more like Jesus dwindles because they’ve already succeeded at their basic goal of not being like the church they left.
But is this really the point of the church? Shouldn’t we all be striving to become more like Jesus, making, maturing and multiplying His disciples? When this is our drive, we will make progress but we will never “arrive.” There should always be the holy discontent of wanting more Jesus, wanting to be more like Him, wanting others to know Him and know Him better.
If you’re considering church planting, please pray that it isn’t simply in reaction to a situation you want to leave. It’s not all that difficult not to be someone else. We’ve got to have more drive than this.