What are some defaults of church planting? Here are a few: renting a facility, direct mail marketing, singing, preaching, children's ministry, etc. None of these things are wrong, and I should also point out that we would do most of these things again if presented with the opportunity. I just think that we perhaps rushed certain things. Doing what we're doing, in the city where we're doing it, takes time. It's human nature to do whatever it takes to speed up the process. The problem, though, is that speeding up the process is often detrimental to the process.
Two years ago we moved into our neighborhood with the intent of being incarnational missionaries bearing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Little by little others with a hope of seeing God accomplish his purposes in our neighborhood joined with us, and before we knew it we had a little church. How exciting, yet it was at this place that some of the default buttons began to be pushed. As I listened to Alan Hirsch, I finally began to understand. Hirsch presented the following diagram:
Christology --> Missiology --> EcclesiologyHirsch said that Christology comes first. Jesus is at the center of everything that we do. We then begin to understand and follow Him into His mission. Finally, we become church with one another.
Christology (Jesus as Founder sets the primary template)
Missiology (our present function in the world)
Ecclesiology (the church comes out of missionary engagement)
Another ways of saying it is that we started functioning (and organizing) together as a church without fully understanding the mission. When the mission is not understood, we're not really sure of the purposes of everything that we're doing and creating. What is the goal of our Sunday night gathering? Why are we going through this daily Bible reading plan? Why are we working with Peabody Elementary School?
I'm still processing this, but I hope it doesn't sound like I'm depressed. I'm actually so thankful that Jason and I are asking these questions. During one of Hirsch's sessions, Jason turned to me and said, "We have a lot of work to do!" We just laughed. I am thankful, however, that we've at least stepped out and made some mistakes. I'm glad it's not all up in our heads.
In the next post I'll give some thoughts on where we're talking we should go from here.