So many methods, models, and strategies exist in the church planting world today. I think that’s a good thing. Intentionality and strategy is certainly a necessary if not a critical element. We have a biblical mandate for order and structure in the church. I embrace the idea of diversity, I believe methodology does not determine theology (i.e. conservative theology does not necessarily translate to hymns and pipe organ) so you can have two guys having the same theology but different methods. I agree that it takes a variety of strategies depending on community and culture to effectively share the Good News. But in a season of such diverse movement, there must be some constants in our strategy. Which leads me to the question: Beyond our Doctrine and Theology, what is it that really matters in church planting? What are the foundational and constant elements for all of us? I think the answer is probably the same for any pastor, established or planting. While there are many things I’m sure… two come to mind today:
Constant #1: “Revelation”. The kind of revelation mentioned in Proverbs that is easily translated vision. “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18
While this scripture is specifically talking about the law, it’s still very relevant in understanding God’s leading as it relates to His vision. The problem is that we often think it’s okay to make this about our spin on a general vision for the church instead of God’s specific vision through personal revelation. We motivate our people with a “vision” statement that can easily be created out of our read on what we’re supposed to do, but if we were to evaluate it before God, many times we’d find it came from a head knowledge, a great idea, or something we read in a book more than a direct, no doubt about it, revelation from God.
Constant #2: “Heart”. It’s been that way from the beginning, and it’s always been more important than ability. Remember the selection of Saul? “An impressive young man without equal among the Israelites – a head taller than any of the others”. God is the consummate teacher. He is always teaching about the priorities, currency and values of His Kingdom. In 1 Samuel, the Israelites want a king so He brings a king that has the values this world reveres. Yet that king turns out to be a curse rather than a blessing to the people. Then God brings Israel a king of His own choosing. Now, rather than looking to the values the world respects, He shows the value that He respects. God was looking for a man after His own heart.
Here are some thoughts from a friend of mine on heart and leadership:
“What does it take to be a leader in the Kingdom? Rather than go to the gym and exercise, rather than soaking up all of the knowledge in the world, rather than being an expert on public policy, rather than burnishing all the skills the world respects…we must work on our heart. We must find the model of heart in God’s Kingdom, study it, search where we fall short and get to work changing our heart. The good news is that God the Father does not keep that model a secret any longer. He sent His Son so that we would know the way. What breaks Jesus’ heart? What does His heart long to see? Let us follow His heart, that is the only way we can become men after God’s owns heart.
In the words of Pema Chodron; When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it’s bottomless, that it doesn’t have any resolution, that this heart is huge, cast and limitless. You begin to discover how much warmth and gentleness is there, as well as how much space”