Recently, the Pacific Conference hired Mitch Lee as our part-time Director of Church Planting. I’ve asked him to write this week’s blog. He shares a great perspective on how we should be leading in today’s church. Here is Mitch’s challenge.
He is risen, indeed! Sharing the story of God come to earth, showing us the better way, being killed, buried and resurrected is a great reminder of our new life in Christ. “He is the head of the body, the Church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead.” His resurrection from the dead was just the beginning. He was the first of many to have new life after death. This IS good news. Christ conquered sin and death and has offered each of us a way back into direct relationship with the Father.
I am so excited about what God is doing is His Church these days. Leaders across the Western world are recognizing the ways in which the Church in the ⅔ world, the global South, is growing like wildfire. And we now begin to make corrective adjustments to our hearts, our practices, and our gatherings.
Francis Chan talks about an exercise he uses when speaking to church leaders in his book, Letters to the Church. Let’s walk through it here:
First – list all the things that your people expect from you as a leader and from your church.
Perhaps you listed things like a good weekly gathering on Sunday AM, great Bible classes for the kids, a clean building, good coffee, comfortable seats, style of music, length of sermon…
Now – list the commands God gave the Church in Scripture.
We have commands like “love one another as I have loved you” (Jn. 15:12), “visit orphans & widows in their affliction” (James 1:27), “make disciples of all nations” (Mt. 28:19), “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2) and more…
Finally – Consider what would upset the people in your local church more – if the church didn’t provide the things from the first list or if the church didn’t obey the commands in the second…
AS THE BOARD OF CHURCH PLANTING we are wrestling through what we desire as characteristics of any new churches, and have looked at “12 Hallmarks of the Maturing Church” from the forward of Dr. Dan Steigerwald’s book, Grow Where You are Planted. Here they are with two added at the end…
(This list assumes the community has the value of the Acts 2 pattern of maintaining health through the habits of praying, worshipping, fellowshipping, serving, and reaching out toward expansion – what Rick Warren cslls the “five biblical purposes of the church.”)
- ROBUSTLY PROCLAIMS THE GOSPEL and sees NEW FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST emerge
- ROOTS ITSELF IN SCRIPTURE and in its connection with the historical & existing Church
- EMBODIES THE GOSPEL as a communal sign, foretaste and agent of God’s Kingdom
- MULTIPLIES DISCIPLES, leaders, missional initiatives and (hopefully) CHURCHES
- ACTIVATES PEOPLE INTO GOD’S MISSION by infusing and cultivating missional DNA
- OFFERS PATHWAYS FOR PEOPLE TO JOIN THE CHURCH – to own its vision, values & way of life
- PRACTICES A CLEAR, ACCESSIBLE PATTERN OF DISCIPLESHIP that helps people grow in Christ
- PURSUES A GROWING AWARENESS OF ITS UNIQUE IDENTITY and CALLING
- EMPOWERS A STABLE LEADERSHIP structure that is healthy, diverse, and sustainable
- EQUIPS & COORDINATES MEMBERS TO SERVE in their giftedness
- Operates as a SUSTAINABLE and GENEROUS, FINANCIALLY STABLE community
- PRIORITIZES GRACE & BIBLICAL WISDOM when handling conflict and growth issues.
Perhaps we would add:
- PRIORITIZES THE PRESENCE OF GOD by being DEEPLY PRAYERFUL in personal and corporate SPIRITUAL FORMATION practices modeled by the leadership of the church
- PARTICIPATES as a partner with the CHURCH of the CITY for KINGDOM UNITY and SHARED INITIATIVES
BEFORE YOU GO:
- Take time to prayerfully consider the exercise Chan uses with church leaders. What does your church value? Would you be willing to submit this exercise to your counsel at your next meeting for discussion?
- Which of the 14 hallmarks above is your local church good at? Which ones do you need to grow into?
- Spend some time in prayerful reflection with the leadership of your church. What is the Spirit speaking to you today? What is He calling you to in this season?
Lord, may it be that we are your Church, holy and set apart to you, committed to obey all that you have commanded out of a heart of love and not compulsion. May we walk as that proclamation and foretase of Your Kingdom that is both now and not yet. May our lives be a pleasing aroma to you, and may many come to proclaim You as King in their lives and experience the freedom we have in CHRIST, walking in the fullness of our new life, our resurrection from spiritual death to life everlasting!
Mitch Lee is a planting a church in Eugene, Oregon called “Spacious Grace.” He also is the Director of Church Planting for the Pacific Conference.
(If you’d like to see a digital copy of “Hallmarks of Maturing Church” which includes descriptions and Scripture verses for each hallmark, please contact Mitch Lee.)