Every time I share with someone about what we have been learning in the residency, I have this weird feeling like what I’m telling them is so basic. On one level, it seems like these are things I should have been able to figure out without going into a residency. I also feel like these are things that I have felt for a long time, but didn’t have the words or experience to put with them and the residency has helped to draw them out and address them. On another level, I think some of the things we have been learning are basic in a profound and foundational way that will radically impact the kind of church God wants us to start in Holly Springs.
Here is the first of 3 huge paradigm shifts that have completely rocked my world:
Shift 1: Don’t be so focused on DOING church that you never actually BECOME the Church.
Something I have learned through this experience is that planting a church is hard. That’s a no-brainer right? We are starting a church from scratch. Identifying needs, serving and loving people, building a Launch Team, and developing systems, structures, and strategies are just some of what is involved in started a new church. These things are incredibly important and foundational to starting a healthy and reproducing church. If we aren’t careful though, we can become so focused on doing church that we never actually become the church.
Making and multiplying disciples is our mission. We can have amazing systems and run programs and services all day every day but still never actually make a single disciple and thereby fail the mission Jesus commanded us to accomplish. Our focus must be on loving God and our neighbors well (Matthew 22:37-40) as we strive to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the places where we live, work, and play. Doing church can easily get in the way of being the church. We must be very intentional not to let our “doing” get in the way of our “being”.
If we are going to get serious about loving our neighbors, we have to create margin in our lives to invest the time needed to cultivate relationships with them. That’s really hard to do in our super busy, hyper-scheduled culture because it probably won’t just happen on it’s own. We will most likely have to be proactive and take the first steps. It might mean that we will have to say no to some things we (or our kids) enjoy so we can be home some evenings and on weekends. I feel that the church has to set a healthy pace and intentionally help create margin by taking a “less is more” mentality. Less church programs (doing) = more time to invest in relationships (being). Let’s start talking about what THAT could look like! (Seriously – post a comment and share your thoughts!)
Part 2 will be coming soon, so stay tuned!
Note: A great book on this subject is “The Art of Neighboring” by Jay Pathak & Dave Runyan. Our Launch Team is going to be reading through this book together and I’m excited to see what God will do through it!