Breaking Church Planting Rules--Part 4We will focus on BUILDING LITTLE CHURCHES more than BUILDING THE BIG CHURCH.
This is going to be one of my favorite rules to break. At my first church plant we had a "ton of people" for a small town in 4 campuses. But one thing we fought from day 1 [contrary to popular opinion] is the SPIRITUAL GROWTH PROCESS. The hard thing that hinders this is that "big church" came with regularity every 5 days [we had Sat. night services]. And people EXPECT to be "fed" and "engaged" and well, "entertained" in their public worship.
We never quite formulated that "killer plan" for growth. We tried a ton of things, with varied "success." From classes to retreats to seminars to plans to small groups. Why is it that creative arts/worship/programming people are a dime a dozen these days, but the equippers, the thinkers, the spiritual developers are as scarce as a Bengals playoff victory [just wait :].
I was at Kensington Community Church when I was introduced to Alan Hirsch, an amazing "thinker" and "provoker". It was for a "small groups conference." He said 1 line that set off a nuclear explosion in my mind. He said we must look at small groups as "little churches." Those 2 words were all that I needed.
And when they operate that way TOWARD EACH OTHER [love, care, prayer, giving, growing, outreach, serving, etc.] the church will explode as she did in Acts 2.
Equipping our leaders to be "pastors" of their "little churches" will forever change what I am called to do [Ephesians 4]. Why have a "meals ministry" and a pastoral "care team" and a big church "serving day". Why are PEOPLE not caring, praying, serving and taking meals to EACH OTHER? Because we are used to professionally doing this through the TRAINED CLERGY PROGRAM.
Explosive growth happened at the GRASS ROOTS LEVEL. With the COMMON MAN and WOMAN. The gospel has spread for centuries and even in communist China through EQUIPPING LITTLE CHURCHES. Equipping the saints. Each one of us becoming a united FORCE in OUR SPHERE OF INFLUENCE and not just for an hour on Sunday.
That is what we are going to do as we kick off this thing in Utah. Starting with ALPHA GROUPS, they will morph into "mission communities" or "little churches." Instead of planting "A" church, we are going to plant hundreds hopefully. From pubs to cafes to libraries to parks to wherever we can find a crowd of people who are hungry to seek the truth...we will engage with a "little church."
And don't worry...we have not forgotten how well people can worship and learn about Jesus in "BIG CHURCH." You can't have one without the other...but that's a different post and I don't want to tick off all the house church people that I got really excited with the first 75% of this post.
"BIG CHURCH" just can't be our every focus or one day you will look back and see Christians that are tossed and blown by every wave that comes as James tells us. The hard work of equipping must begin from the top down. We must model it and live it. [We held our first group this past Sunday night...it was amazing...true friends who actually love and care for one another in community.]
So next time you ask me about light boards, stage trussing and marketing...don't be surprised if I ask you about "little churches" and truly structuring everything we do around them and letting BIG CHURCH flow out of LITTLE CHURCH. That's mobilization...that's power...that's Christ-followership that will STAND THE TEST OF TIME.
And stop being a HATER. I know what some of you are thinking...I'VE BEEN SAYING THIS FOR YEARS! Well, the moment we are dominated by a mentality of spiritual growth is the path to CHANGE THE WORLD, we stop caring about those around us who are going to HELL and we are right back to SQUARE 1.
I could find many pastors and elder's and seminary prof's and some very deep people who have probably led no one to Jesus in YEARS. Where's the love? Where's the balance? There is NO SUBSTITUTE for the GREAT COMMISSION that includes both: REACHING and TEACHING!
"We can only live changes: we cannot think our way to humanity. Every one of us, every group, must become the model of that which we desire to create." --Ivan Illich in The Forgotten Ways