by David Fitch
Having planted a missional church from 10 people, and having gone through much pain and joy, I have wondered – what if you could warn people up front what this all would mean for their lives and expectations before they started gathering together. What expectations would you warn those first gathering people against? And if you did deliver such a warning list , would there be anyone left to gather? It’s kind of like marriage, or doing a Ph.D, if you truly knew the cost going in would you still do it? But looking back after going through it, you wouldn’t give up the experience and joy for anything. So perhaps it is best for people NOT to know all of what they (and you) are going to have to go through in a missional church plant.
Of course, I couldn’t have written such a warning because I did not even know all of what I was getting into and what God was calling us to.
Neverthless, looking back, here’s what my warning list would like like to all those who would join a missional church gathering. As Life on the Vine looks to plant another gathering in the future, maybe such a warning list would ease the way for them. Would you give such a list to people as you begin a church gathering? What expectations would you warn against?
TEN THINGS ANYONE WHO JOINS IN A TWENTY FIRST CENTURY MISSIONAL CHURCH PLANT SHOULD NOT EXPECT
1.) Should not expect to regularly come to church for just one hour, get what you need for your own personal growth and development, and your kid’s needs, and then leave til next Sunday. Expect mission to change your life. Expect however a richer life than you could have ever imagined.
2.) Should not expect that Jesus will fit in with every consumerist capitalist assumption, lifestyle, schedule or accoutrement you may have adopted before coming here. Expect to be freed from a lot of crap you will find out you never needed.
3.) Should not expect to be anonymous, unknown or be able to disappear in this church Body. Expect to be known and loved, supported in a glorious journey.
4.) Should not expect production style excellence all the time on Sunday worship gatherings. Expect organic, simple and authentic beauty.
5.) Should not expect a raucous “light out” youth program that entertains the teenagers, puts on a show that gets the kids “pumped up,” all without parental involvement. Instead as the years go by, with our children as part of our life, worship and mission (and when the light shows dim and the cool youth pastor with the spiked hair burns out) expect our youth to have an authentic relationship with God thru Christ that carries them through a lifetime of journey with God.
6.) Should not expect to always “feel good,”or ecstatic on Sunday mornings. Expect that there will ALSO be times of confession, lament, self-examination and just plain silence.
7.) Should not expect a lot of sermons that promise you God will prosper you with “the life you’ve always wanted” if you’ll just believe Him and step out on faith and give some more money for a bigger sanctuary. Expect sustenance for the journey.
8.) Should not expect rapid growth whereby we grow this church from 10 to a thousand in three years. Expect slower organic inefficient growth that engages people’s lives where they are at and sees troubled people who would have nothing to do with the gospel marvelously saved.
9.) Should not expect all the meetings to happen in a church building. Expect a lot of the gatherings will be in homes, or sites of mission.
10.) Should not expect arguments over style of music, color of carpet, or even doctrinal outlier issues like dispensationalism. Expect mission to drive the conversation.
O AND BY THE WAY – Should not expect that community comes to you. I am sorry but true community in Christ will take some “effort”and a reshuffling of priorities for both you and your kids. Yes I know you want people to come to you and reach out to you and you’re hurting and busy. But assuming you are a follower of Christ (this message is not for strangers to the gospel) you must learn that the answer to all those things is to enter into the practices of “being the Body” in Christ, including sitting, eating, sharing and praying together.
If anyone out there is interested in this kind of place – join us or another missional church gathering somewhere.