How did we get to this point? Read that here.
During the process of exploring whether church planting would be a next step for us, we took an assessment called the Ridley Assessment with our district office. The assessment measures the potential church planter in 13 areas. One area where we scored particularly low was “Relational Evangelism”. Essentially we were asked, “who, as a result of relationship with you, has become a follower of Jesus?” I couldn’t answer the question. Here’s how the report reads:
Alex has little experience building relationships with the unchurched and is not intentionally focused on reaching them. He has not personally led any unchurched people to make a decision for Christ, with the exception of mission’s trips, in a very long time.
Doesn’t sound like the characteristic of someone wanting to plant a church that would reach the lost. As a matter of fact, the proctor of the exam commented, “if you were to go plant a church tomorrow, you’ll plant a church for Christians.” These words were like a piercing dagger from heaven into my heart. It was one of those moments where you know you cannot go backward, there had to be a change. We were told this was not uncommon for staff pastors in my position. I have worked full-time for a church where my primary focus has been on developing Christians and executing church programs. While, there is great value in those things, I couldn’t help but feel something in my life as a disciple, and future church planter, was missing.
We are determined to change this prognosis. We want to be a church that reaches the growing number of those disenfranchised with the church or unexperienced in church altogether. Unfortunately, we recognized a need for a rewiring of sorts in our philosophy and practice of life and ministry. This isn’t just a matter of adding an effective evangelism strategy or program onto our tool belt. It’s a matter of learning how to be a disciple and a multiplier. That’s not just a role or a task we undertake, it’s an identity that begins at the core of what it means to follow Jesus. Robert Coleman writes:
Well-intended ceremonies, programs, organizations, commissions, and crusades of human ingenuity are trying valiantly to do a job that can only be done by people in the power of the Holy Spirit. This is not to depreciate these noble efforts, for without them the church could not function as she does. Nevertheless, unless the personal mission of the Master is vitally incorporated into the policy and fabric of all these plans, the church cannot function as she should.
Discipleship isn’t rocket science. There is a certain degree of simplicity here. However, we recognized the need to move from church as a program driven, “industrial complex” mentality, to church as a discipleship driven movement. We, somewhat divinely, connected with the V3 Movement. As I began to read their articles and connected with their leadership, I sensed an overwhelming like-mindedness and that our hearts were being knit together. They were putting words to what God had been forming on our hearts the last few years.
We are excited to be partnering with them this next year through their learning cohort training, which will begin next week! We will be working through the text, Church As Movement, which will cover topics such as:
- Movemental intelligence
- Being disciples
- Making disciples
- Missional theology
- Ecclesial architecture
- Community formation
- Incarnational practices
- Polycentric leadership
I’ll be posting weekly reflections that will cover these topics and explore how we are processing and practicing these values. I also highly recommend you join us in September at the Praxis Gathering in Philadelphia. Throughout this next year we’ll also be building our core team, raising funds, building relationships in our community, and preparing to launch our collective worship gathering. You can read more about that here.