In the “4 Essentials for every church planter” series, the second essential is this:
Church planters need a team that sees church differently.
Church planters often claim they want to “engage the culture.” If a new church truly desires to do that, rather than simply use the lingo, then words such as “equip” and “mission” will be used more than “being fed” and “deep.” Church planters must see the local church as the hope of their cities. They must want to see the church advance more than they want to provide a place for Christians to feel cozy and enlightened.
Team members that also believe this are more concerned by empty seats on a Sunday than whether they “connected with the sermon.” They believe the gospel is the greatest depth of the riches of Christ, and define being fed by being equipped in their confidence of the gospel, for mission. They serve, give, invest in others, and invite others to church services and small groups.
Some of the final words of Jesus were those in the Great Commission, and those recorded by Luke before Christ’s ascension. In the Ascension scene of Acts chapter one, Jesus is before his followers as the resurrected conqueror of death, going to his rightful throne in heaven, and what does he leave these people with?
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 HCSB)
Luke adds this detail in the verse immediately following:
After He had said this, He was taken up as they were watching, and a cloud took Him out of their sight. (Acts 1:9 HCSB)
Just like that! Three years of teaching and displaying the miraculous to his disciples, and then Jesus lets them know that this mission is the point of it all! The time has come for this to happen, and Jesus leaves.
Our Dangerous Subculture
When I look at the language of modern-day American Christianity, I see words like “deeper” and “maturity” being used often. Press people on what they mean by those wonderful words and you won’t hear anything about the Great Commission. I see depth practically defined by many today as being more entrenched in Christian subculture.
To be more in tune with the industry of American Christianity—aware of the resources of studies, podcasts, and conferences—is now to be also growing and maturing. Ask a Christian about having lost friends, and if you can even be heard over the celebrity pastor sermon playing in the background, you’ll find he or she won’t have an answer.
I can’t help but conclude that some bubbles need to be burst, if anyone is ever going to be able to reach the depths of the waters we are claiming to want to dive into.
The closer one is to the center of the Christian bubble, the deeper one feels about his or her faith. I can’t help but conclude that some bubbles need to be burst, if anyone is ever going to be able to reach the depths of the waters they are claiming to want to dive into. Bubble bursting is loud, however.
People become uneasy and feel threatened by the reality that their ideas of maturity and depth may not line up with the Jesus they believe in and desire to follow. We must walk across the bubble wrap with shoes on and pop every single one, in order to start seeing that mature Christians join Jesus on mission. Because that’s the deepest place a Christ follower can find oneself.
Many Christians today don’t want this. They place a white picket fence around their family and want to see church as the Christian cruise ship, with family centered activities designed to provide the best member benefits in town. If your church’s benefits aren’t good enough, they will transfer to the club across town. You need a team that thinks that the Church is about the mission of God, not the spiritual spa of the missionary. You must create a culture that believes “beautiful feet” (Romans 10:15) are made through gospel mission, rather than by pastoral pedicures.
As a planter, you must be the lead missionary in your city. That is not an effort to partake in alone. You need team members who will join the mission, because the mission has a Church, and that is what you are called to build.
Published April 21, 2015