Thursday, January 27, 2011


For church planters to be effective there needs to be something about them that is radically different from the rest of the world.  Their values, ambitions, and goals need to be peculiarly odd to the rest of the world.  This kind of difference only comes from the time spent hanging out with one who embodies those particular peculiarities.  Values are more caught than taught!  People become like the people they spend the bulk of their time with.  If you hangout with people who value money more than anything else you are more likely to become a person who values money more than anything else.  If the majority of your time is spent with people who are bigots and prejudice then there is a pretty good chance that you will become a prejudiced bigot.  So for a church planter to be spiritually peculiarly odd to the world around them they need to have spent a significant amount of time hanging out with someone who is spiritually peculiarly odd!  So where does a church planter find such an association?  We find the answer again with the Apostle Peter and John as they are standing in front of the Jewish leaders being ordered not preach or teach in the name of Jesus.

"When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

One of the characteristics of Peter and John that caught the eye and attention of the Jewish leaders was that they had spent time with Jesus.  Now the most probable interpretation of this passage was that they recognized them as ones who had been with Jesus because they had seen them with Jesus teaching at the Temple or at one of the many parties that they had attended with Jesus.  It's probably not the best interpretation to say that this passage is referring to some lifestyle that the disciples were exhibiting that was intrinsically Christ-like that caught the attention of the Jewish leaders though that was probably true about them.  Instead, it is more accurate to say that the Jewish leaders were amazed that these disciples were not trying to hide themselves or deny the fact that they were followers of Christ.  Their conduct and speech were blatantly unapologetic that they were Christ's followers inspite of the fact that Jesus not much earlier had been executed.  The question that these Jewish leaders must have been asking themselves was, "Why would anyone wish to be associated with a convicted and executed criminal?"  Peter and John made no attempt to hide their association with Christ. It was an easy conclusion for the Jewish leaders to arrive at.  Anyone listening to them teach would quickly recognize that association.

The church planters that God is raising up today make no apologies for the fact that they are fully devoted followers of Jesus.  It's not hard for the people who come into contact with them to quickly discover that they are Christians and that they follow the way of Jesus.  It's not because these church planters dress differently from other people or that they speak with some special vocabulary that reveals it.  No, the fact is that most of these new church planters look very much like everyone else and their vocabulary is pretty ordinary as well.  It's not the choice of words that makes the distinction but it's content of their message.  The message of these new church planters is strictly Christ centered.  These church planters make no attempts to hide the fact that they follow Jesus.  It is clear to all who get to know them that Jesus Christ is their highest value.

These new church planters aren't trying to sneak in the name of Jesus or covertly  attract the unchurched by promising them special worldly things.  That might work well for a marketing campaign for secular businesses but that is not the message from this new breed of church planters.  No, these church planters understand that their mission is not to build a crowd but to make disciples of Jesus and how one chooses to pursue that mission will greatly affect the outcome.  These church planters understand that just because you can build a crowd doesn't mean you have made disciples who love Jesus more than anyone or anything else.  They know that just because you have people flocking to your church facility doesn't mean that these people are willing to sacrifice their lives in obedient service to Christ.  So instead of thinking up gimmicks that will attract a larger crowd or even satisfy the insatiable carnal appetite for a religious high this new breed of church planter preaches Jesus Christ crucified, raised from the dead and coming again to judge both the living and the dead.  They preach that the way to find your life is to first lose your life for Christ.  They are teaching that in order to experience true freedom from sin you must first offer yourself as a slave to Christ.  When this new breed of church planters speak there is no doubt that they have been with Christ, they love Christ and they have forsaken everything to follow Christ!  And because of this clear and close association with Christ the world looks at them as being peculiarly odd.

But it is the peculiar oddness that seems to be attractive to some who wish to know the truth.  It is both the sense of these church planters being in the world but yet in many ways not of the world that intrigue many lost people.  It is the fact that these church planters might look like everyone else, sound like everyone else and in many ways enjoy the same things as everyone else but yet have a totally different value system that causes the unchurched to stand up and take notice.  The world looks at the church planters sees the difference and also clearly, powerfully and unapologetically hears that the difference is JESUS. For many this verbal and lifestyle message of Jesus is like honey to a bee.  For this rising breed of new church planters making sure the message of Jesus Christ is clearly heard in all that is said and done is of paramount importance. This new breed of church planter instinctively knows that the world will have nothing to do with the church if the church is no different from the world.  These church planters also know that the world's first contact with Christ quite possibly is  through them.