There is a competitive characteristic in our DNA that seems to have been injected with Adam & Eve at the fall. We all pick our sides and fight for them in some area of life. Maybe for you it is politics. You have taken your stance and YOU know all the right answers. Maybe it is about how babies must be fed organic baby food. I’m serious, there are people who seem to be willing to die over these issues. Suburbia is a breeding ground for this mine vs. yours mentality. It could be my cable company vs. yours or it could by my sons tae kwon do studio vs. yours. In the end it is all the same root spirit of I am right and you’re not. I practice a given activity correctly and you don’t. I support the best organization and yours is not only inferior but wrong.
It is no surprise that we often approach church the same way. Now, this is far from a plea for universalism. Jesus is the only way to have a relationship with God and the Bible is the only inerrant and infallible word of truth. When I talk about church here, I’m referring to the big church, small church, traditional church, contemporary church, missional church, seeker church, emerging church, emergent church, my church, your church players on the field. Then, there seems to be smaller nuances of each of those larger categories.
My fellow church planters are plagued with this mentality. It seems that in order to pioneer a new church you have to be against all of the other churches. It really hurts and angers me when I hear this sort of language from other pastors, of all people.
One of the biggest riffs I’ve seen in recent years in my sphere is the big church (or mega church) vs. small church inflamed positions. To be involved in one or the other often necessitates a stance against the other option. Here in suburbia that has created churches which are isolated and disconnected from each other. Churches are so concerned with their own turf or methods and programs that they often have no idea what is going on in the larger community of faith.
I have a unique view point. I have been employed and deeply involved in huge churches and smaller churches. For the first time, just over the past year, I have been connected slightly to what is happening in some of the other churches in our community. I’m not casting blame on others in this respect but accept full responsibility. But, through this God has given me some pretty counter-cultural thoughts and questions.
The church I now pastor is a small missional community nestled inside the suburban sprawl we call Katy, Tx. Katy is a suburban community of about 300,000 people. Our church, by God’s grace, has impacted a lot of homes in this community. By his continued grace, I believe we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of what He will do through us. We can do ministry in a way that other churches cannot. We are a small community – where everyone will know your name – moving forward on mission. You walk in and you quickly feel the family atmosphere of what God is doing in and through our church.
Within our Katy community there are huge churches, tiny churches, and everything in between. Each one of those churches is uniquely equipped to impact this local community in a way that the others will not be able to duplicate. This is formed by the story of the church, the pastor, and the people – the unique fingerprint of each church gathering. The resources which are available to each church vary widely – financial resources, people resources, gift and ability resources. Sit down, take a deep breath, and think this through with me…
What if all of these bible-believing, gospel-teaching churches leveraged the ability they would have together as a unified movement? What if the resources of small, medium, and large churches overlapped like the job descriptions of each member playing on a baseball diamond? I believe it would be monumental. What if it wasn’t about my church vs. your church? What if all of our energy was put behind leveraging my church AND your church for the sake of gospel transformation within this grand community?
I don’t have the answers yet but I’m praying for a day that we are all, as leaders and followers of Jesus, are wrestling with these questions. Thanks to Mitch Maher at Redeemer Community Church and the effort he has put into getting the local gospel leaders together… I’m at least asking the questions.
Would you be willing to pray and ask God what your role in all of this might be? It doesn’t matter if you are a local church attender or one of the pastors of any of these churches… God wants to use you. How do you fit into this movement? Your story and gifts have a role to play. What are the baby steps you can take in hopes of seeing greater gospel impact?