Category: church planting


My friend Tom Smith posted the following, and I found it so helpful (yet succinct – Tom how do you do that?) I am re-posting here…

When the church question misleads us

This morning I am thinking about the Church worldwide and particularly in South Africa. During the last decade I have spent many hours thinking, praying, talking and working in terms of the church. I believe the church is crucial. That she is the bride of Jesus. That the church is owned by Jesus. Any talk of “my church”, especially out of the mouth of pastors and leaders is drivel. We don’t own the church.

Because the church is owned by Jesus it is paramount that we don’t make an idol out of the church. The church is not the hope of the world. Jesus is the hope of the world. Alan Hirsch is fond of noting that your Christology will lead to your Missiology which will lead to your Ecclesiology. Jesus, mission and then church. When we move church to the front we are in the murky waters of idolatry.

It is surprising that Jesus didn’t talk about church all that much. In one of His most pronounced statements on the church he reminds us that He will build his church. One can’t build the church with any great idea,plan or management. The church is built by Someone else. When we follow that Someone our collective rhythms of love, life and obedience becomes the church. Jesus makes it happen.

When we try to build it ourselves we will find ourselves tangled in a terrible mess. I know. I have been there many times. I believe more than ever that the most important question is not, “what is church?” but “who is Jesus?”. When communities grapple with the question of Jesus’s identity and live into the answers and the questions something beautiful happens. The people become lovers. They love Jesus, one another and the people around them. Jesus leads us into a rhythm of love that becomes the mission that results in a church.

When we start with the church we don’t lock into the Energy that creates the necessary movement to change the world. The church then becomes a superstructure of our own Egos.

I don’t like it when that happens. But Jesus excites me. He intoxicates me, even scares me a bit. I am haunted by the echo of His invitation, “Follow me!” That is the invitation. What does it mean to follow Jesus here in South Africa or wherever you are? I think this is a question worthy of exploration.

originally posted here

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I am just about to send an email asking people to pray specifically about the planting of a new church here in Cape Town. Having been involved in beginning some different faith communities and pretty much thinking about this all the time, one of the things I am quite sure of is that prayer is THE essential piece of any and every type of new church. Period.

Want people to experience God’s love in new ways? Pray. Want to grow in being a disciple of Jesus? Pray. Want to see God’s Kingdom come and people be healed? Pray. Pray, listen, do what God says. That is my suggestion for starting a church.

I can’t stand to see another church squeeze every last cent from its members to buy a new piece of land or add yet another mega-meeting hall. I don’t want to see the same old cookie cutter vision/mission/strategy statement anymore. I won’t even read that strategic marketing that is meant to be innovative in drawing someone to church. Not because buildings, visions, or advertisements are bad per se. Rather, THEY ARE TOO OFTEN DONE IN PLACE OF PRAYER.

Prayer allows God to work in the ways God knows best. God, the creator of the universe. The one who loved each and every one of us. That God. I know we all believe Jesus is the head of his Church. But are we letting him run things? Or just using his name for what WE want? Seems to me that the way to keep him in charge is through prayer.

Prayer before you make decisions
Prayer before you gather to worship
Prayer when there is someone in need
Prayer when making plans

Not “bless us as we do what we want.” Rather, prayer that puts our hearts out there and asks God for His. Dangerous prayer that just might mean changing directions or doing difficult things in response. Prayer that requires God to actually be God for it to work. Prayer that asks big. That’s the kind of prayer I want my church to be about.

If your church isn’t praying enough, add some more. One prayer gathering, regardless of size or frequency, is spiritually significant. Putting yourself into God’s hands together will do what nothing else can in making into the church God wants you to be. And if you are starting a church, start with prayer. Let God have His way from the get-go and keep listening all the time. God loves the Church and wants to see us live out our destiny.

If God is birthing a new church here in Cape Town, may it come from prayer. I pray that regardless of where it leads.

 

What role have you seen prayer play (or not) in churches you have been involved with? What is God stirring in your heart around prayer?

Would love to hear from you!