Q. What do you call an
aging old “experienced” youth pastor at a church planting conference?
A. A target?
Last week, LuAnn and I got to go to Orlando to attend Exponential, “the largest gathering of church planters on the planet.” I think there were about 5000 of us there to learn and discuss how the church can best make the shifts necessary to make disciples today. Despite feeling torn in several directions at times (like when I had to choose 1 out of a couple dozen workshops all taking place at the same time with great speakers I really like to learn from), it was a great week of getting out of the routine, meeting some great new people from all over the place, and connecting with ministry friends we don’t get to see as often as we’d like. Plus, it was in Orlando, where there actually is something called ‘spring’!
Even though the church I work in was planted a long time ago (hey, every church is a church plant), I was excited to go to the conference because church planting has always held interest for me, probably ever since watching some of the church struggles I saw as a kid. I noticed that it was really tempting for good, and well-intentioned people to become so enamored with their way of doing church things that they’d forget why they started to do them that way in the first place. Someone else would come along with a different way, and disagreements often blossomed into something less than what either of them would be proud of. I remember thinking occasionally that it would be easier to just start over.
The church planting tribe puts it this way, “It’s easier to give birth, than to resurrect the dead.”
While I agree with the sentiment, I’d caution that easier isn’t always better, and add a reminder that we serve a Creator who breathes life into lumps of clay, piles of dead bones, and bodies entombed in graves. He can certainly BOTH give birth to new churches AND resurrect the dead ones. And yes, we need to acknowledge that some of what we call churches are little more than spiritually flatlined country clubs that have lost all but a tenuous connection to the mission of Christ and are in desperate need of His resuscitative work.
After spending some time reflecting, and sorting out a lot of internal conflict that has basically kept me from writing much of anything here lately, I’m going to start a series of posts today that digs into some of the shifts suggested at Exponential that can help us do better at making disciples. Whether you’re planting a brand new church or serving in one that someone else worked to plant long ago, I agree that each of these 5 shifts is critical to your church’s success at actually doing what it’s supposed to be doing – making disciples.
I’ve outlined each of the shifts presented at Exponential 2013 in the following posts, but if you want to get a firsthand look for yourself, check out the very first Exponential West in October in southern CA or look into some of the free ebooks available on Exponential’s site.
“Exponential Shifts Toward Discipleship” Series