Saturday, January 26, 2008

Can a church planter be "All of the Above?"

I was thinking recently about the above question that was asked of me. A friend of mine, who recently became the pastor of a well established, independent Baptist church, is endeavoring to learn more about some of the new buzz words in the realm of church planting. He had shared with me that he would like to lead his congregation out of the twentieth century, into our current, twenty-first century. He had been hearing a lot about the emerging church movement and some of the terms that have come out of this movement. We have met several times over the past year or so to discuss what all of this is and means.

I had to be frank with him, I am still on a learning curve myself. I have spent a considerable amount of time over the past three to four years attending conferences and reading many books, gleaning as much as I can from some of the leading thinkers in this emerging movement; guys like Alan Hirsch, Ed Stetzer, Dave Ferguson, Marc Driscoll, John Burke, etc.

As my friend and I discussed what it means to be missional, incarnational, relational, organic, indigenous, and emerging, he asked me a simple question that left me sitting speechless in my chair. He asked, "can't we be all of these things simultaneously, as we obey Christ's commands to love God and our neighbors, and then go and make disciples?"

Here was a man who admitted to knowing little to nothing about all of this stuff, yet he really got it.

There are so many discussions going on around the world today; at conferences, on blogs and you-tube, in seminaries and Bible colleges. Many of the conversations I have been engaged in seem to be so complex, with so many church planters trying to define who they are and what their new church will look like. Scores of books (some good, some not so good) have been and are being written on this emerging church movement.

Many church planters (myself included) are endeavoring to get a handle on this movement and how it applies to them as they plant missional, incarnational, relational, organic, indigenous churches that are culturally relevant and Christ honoring. Do we have to pick and choose what we will be as church planters, or will we simply be doing all of the above as we focus on the One who called us to His great commission and trust Him to guide and shape us into the leaders He wants us to become?

So, I think I will apply that simple question my pastor friend asked, as well as the obvious answer of to my own church planting endeavors. Instead of focusing on becoming missional, incarnational, relational, organic, indigenous and culturally relevant, I will streamline my focus and simply follow Jesus commands to love God and my neighbor, and go therefore and make disciples...excuse me...Christ followers