Planting Cool Churches? Don’t Believe The Hype

I love church planting. I’ve committed much of my life to it. My passion is to see new churches planted that transform lives, serve neighborhoods and impact cities. But over the years I’ve seen a kind of church planting that I worry has the potential of doing as much damage as it does good.

This kind of church planting often begins with the best of intentions. The planter loves Jesus, wants to be his ongoing transformative work in the world, and senses a call to plant a new church.

But somewhere along the way, either because of explicit training, implicit assumptions or a combination of both, the planter decides to employ a rather popular method of planting their church. They are told it is an “effective” way to plant a church. And besides, he/she can cite numerous examples of churches like it around the country.

It all seems to make sense on paper.

However, in my opinion, this is a method that has been tried and found wanting. While it may be effective in gathering a crowd, it seems to largely fail at effectively making disciples. In fact, when you strip the particular strategies down to their core and examine the values that drive them, I worry it is a way of planting churches that may actually run counter to Jesus and his kingdom way, inevitably threatening to undermine the work altogether.

5 Pastoral Post-Election Thoughts

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Wednesday morning I woke up to learn that Donald Trump will be our next commander in chief. It seems like just yesterday he announced his intentions to run for president and the country collectively burst into laughter. “This has to be just another publicity stunt, right? Surely this smug billionaire-turned-reality-tv-star doesn’t really think he’s remotely qualified for the country’s highest office, right?” No one gave Donald Trump a chance. Shoot, Trump didn’t seem to give Trump a chance. But after a dismal voter showing at the polls, a big white working class push, and overwhelming support from the evangelical community, Donald Trump edged Hillary Clinton as the next president elect. My mind has been spinning all week. How did we get here? How did this happen? And what does it mean for the church? Now that it’s been a few days, I want to offer a few pastoral thoughts on the other side of this crazy election:

A Benediction for Election Day

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“Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save.” – Psalm 146:3

This is a truth I constantly need to be reminded of, perhaps especially during election season. I am very grateful to live in a country where I have the ability to vote, but as a Christian my hope and security does not lie in any nation or president (thank God!). It is not in any prince of this world or in the people or institutions they govern.

Living Incarnationally in an Increasingly Excarnate World

Something is wrong.

You can feel it in the air. Many of us can sense it in ourselves.  Something has shifted and it’s not for the better.

Never before has a generation existed that is more connected and isolated at the same time. We have hundreds of Facebook friends yet we do not know our neighbors. We have scores of LinkedIn contacts and Twitter followers but very few people we can call in the middle of the night when we need a friend.

Reaching A Skeptical Generation

There is a special place in my heart for skeptics. You know who they are, right? Skeptics are the ones who are always questioning things. They are always asking questions like, Is this really true? Is that really what happened? Can that leader or organization really be trusted? Are their motives really what they say? Where is the fine print? When is the bait and switch coming, really?

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While there may have been a time when skepticism was largely pushed to the cultural margins, that time has long passed. Churches and their leaders no longer get the benefit of the doubt. Instead, doubt is alive and well. Skepticism has become a staple in the increasingly post-Christian West. Sadly, however, many churches continue to go on with business as usual. And many of them continue to shrink and die as a result.

I have the privilege of leading a church that has consistently reached skeptics in the four short years of our existence. What we’ve done is not innovative, but it has been intentional. Here are five things you can do to more effectively reach skeptics:

A Short Thank You

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt…”Colossians 4:6

Hey friends, I just wanted to take a minute to say thank you.

Two weeks ago I launched this site with some real fear and trepidation. I knew my first article was a sensitive one. My greatest fear in making it public was not so much in how it would be received, but in how some of my heterosexual Christian brothers and sisters might respond. I worried that it might only provide yet another platform for the angry, condemning voices of religion to shout.

However, I also knew that maybe, just maybe a different kind of conversation could emerge; one marked first and foremost by grace and respect. In the end, I thought it was well worth the risk.