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So let’s get this party started. Looks like I’ve upset some folks. I’ve been accused of not liking my current location in Austin and I’ve been told I should focus on the HELP because I do not have a “pastors” heart. Man-o-man…Relax everyone…I love you all. Just not as much as the call of God on my life and the passion I have for the Kingdom and those who are far far far from it. 

Let me continue my thoughts on “If I Church Planted Again…” You can read  Part One & Part Two to catch up if need be. 

Also…I’m not saying I’m an expert or that I’m right. Please feel free to disagree and give some push-back. I need to learn. But don’t get hurt or prideful. That’s a waste of time. 

So let’s clear the air…

My last two post have nothing to do with my current church. I get plenty of current church planters and future church planters asking me questions and I’m answering them via the blog. My hope is encourage other church planters and or Christians who may help launch a new church or struggling with a current church. 

Just because I would avoid allowing a Christian to plant with the church does not mean Christians don’t love God or do good works. Church Planting is a calling and takes certain gifts and passions. It’s my job (whomever is planting) to discern and protect the vision as the Elder and pioneer of the plant. I can’t afford to get caught-up in religious meanderings as I try to launch the church. 

So let’s move forward. If I was planting a church and other Christians wanted to help start the church that would excite me and scare me at the same time. Here are some guidelines that I think are important and helpful. Remember: It’s much easier to say no in the beginning 🙂 

1. Are they missional. Not do they “say” they are missional. But are they already doing Kingdom work? Do they bleed Kingdom-minded ministry? Are they already leading people to the cross? Are they deeply serving in the local church?

2. Do they understand the vision and mission of the church? This is vital folks…I’m not asking if they agree with “statements.” Do they really get what the church wants to look like and feel like in the next 2-3 years? Do they understand the church is not trying to “feed” them (the Christian) but reach people far from God?  (I’m talking mature Christians here-not a newbie) 

Soapbox: If I hear another “mature” Christian talk about getting “fed” I may throw-up in my mouth.  If you need a pastor to “feed” you then something is wrong. It’s hard to reach people far from God if I have to hold a milk-bottle for “mature” Christians because that Christian does not want to start being responsible-its time to eat the meat. I can’t be the voice-of-God for you. We all have the same access to God. But I digress…

3. Do they work hard? Church Planting is a lot of work. Many people will have to do various activities to help support the plant. A Church Planter is not looking for Sunday Christians. Those folks usually take a lot of the planters time and energy. Which becomes a distraction and keep the planter focused inward. 

4. Are they learners? Church Planting is HARD people…This is why so many (like mine) could not make it. Planters don’t have time, staff or resources in the beginning. A planter is not really a pastor. (i can feel the tension) I think a planter should focus on pioneering, taking the gospel into the highways and bi-ways. When the planter gets more established then they can serve Christ-followers better. They can set up a proper ecclesiology with deacons and elders who can minister to the flock and still reach their city. 

5. Go with the flow: This is super vital. By it’s very nature, church planting changes a lot. Roles change, needs change, locations change etc. If a Christian is looking for a stable environment where they can be served and fed then church planting is not it. Sometimes it takes a church 2-3 years to find it’s true calling and identity in the local community. Usually the planter is just trying to find the best way to “reach” the city the first few years. 

6. Understanding Culture: I need people who understand the culture. They know they lay-of-the-land and they want to join forces and teach me the culture (if I’m new to the city) without changing the DNA of the church. (Unless the DNA  can’t reach the local culture-then it needs to be changed) If you allow a Christian to plant a church, they have to connect the local church to the local culture. If they don’t they will become  a negative to the plant. *gasp* Because tension will be created and the local culture will not connect to that church because of the Christian who does not connect to the local culture.

7. Give: Are they willing to sacrifice deeply? Are they willing to sell a house or things they don’t need to cause the vision to move forward. Will they change their “lifestyle” habits to give more? And do this with a “no-strings-attached” philosophy?

8. Are they men and women of prayer. I will talk about this in a another post. But at the end of the day I need to know that these Christian are praying for God to move in the city. Do they weep…? Are they broken…? Does their heart bleed for those who are far from God? If they do then they will do whatever it takes to make it happen. Usually when a church is started, that church will walk through hell-and-back. The Devil will prowl around trying to destroy anyone and everyone. And usually he will use other Chritians to do that work. Gossip, complaining, control, etc. This destroys the church plant and creates a DNA that is anti-gospel. 

9. Are they willing to live in tension? Again church planting is hard. The planter won’t always make good decisions, exhaustion will come, conflict will come. When things get “hairy” I don’t need Christians to start leaving because they can’t love and forgive each other. Try teaching a non-Christian about love while Christians fight with each other, thats kinda of hard. 

So let me try and do a better job of communicating. It’s not that I would not accept Christians or ever want them. The Church is the hope for the whole world-I’m proud to be a Christian and to serve with other Christians. If Christians act like “Christ” then they could be a huge benefit to a church plant. If Christians act “religious” then they can become a distraction.

Again-this is the CORE phase of the team-the first 20-40 people. In a perfect world once I got to 40 people, I would love to look around and see 15-20 testimonies of unchurched or de-churched people experiencing the Kingdom.  If you don’t start reaching those far from God in the beginning, their is a chance you never will.

So yes I may offend some Christians-but you know what; my passion for the unchurched broken-person goes much deeper then I can imagine. And I know that I need to do a better job myself. And If I was going to church plant again…I would do everything in my power to create a church that reaches people who are far from God and I would expect all Christians who join the church to do the same.

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2 Comments

  1. Hey Chris,

    Long time, no talk. Take care of Chandler down there in TX.

    I thought I’d throw something into the mix here that complicates your discussion. I find myself agreeing and disagreeing with you in your thoughts on Christians in your Core Group. I think some of your expressions might simply be a philosophical difference for people – and that’s fine. We need all types of church plants – they will reach different people.

    However, the catch I find in your discussion comes from my experience where we dropped a parachute into Seattle, knowing nobody, and started from scratch. It takes time, struggle and working through disagreement to develop trust. It has taken time to discover people’s commitment level and how people respond to differing leadership situations. Some people have surprised me for the better, some for the worse. I guess I would just encourage you not to count people out. Sometimes there pursuit of your church is God leading them, sometimes it is them looking for greener pastures. (Maybe that is where I would focus).

    I love your heart, brother. Wish we had had more time up in the Great Northwest together – but God was leading you south. Probably better to follow that path. 🙂

  2. Dean,

    Good to hear from you bro. We are trying to take of the Chandlers 🙂

    I agree with you. That is the thing about cp. It’s so complex. Strange mixture of art & science.

    Can’t wait to come to Seattle and hang.


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