Exponential 2011 Day 2
Day 2 of Exponential got started with some great messages by Neil Cole, Darren Patrick and Rob Wegner.
I was particularly inspired by Rob’s words. He is on staff at Granger Community Church (a United Methodist Church in Indiana) that has done an exceptional job of growing an attractive, inviting and engaging seeker sensitive church over the past couple of decades. Rob talked about how Granger has begun expanding their vision to include “incarnational mission” and “multiplication church planting” in an effort to engage more people locally and globally. True Mission, he said, is found in the overlap between the three “lenses” through which the Granger community looks. Instead of either/or – which oftentimes becomes the stance taken by proponents of both “attractional” and “missional/incarnational” camps, Wegner offered us a healthy union and a promising both/and approach to doing church.
My workshop this morning was “Launching Out: Getting Ready to Plant,” and was taught by David Putnam. Apparently there were a number of other folks interested in this breakout as well because we were packed into a classroom like cattle with many people sitting on the floor and in the hallway. Putnam did a good job of providing us with some nuts and bolts as we prepare to launch. I particularly appreciated his emphasis upon Spiritual Preparation over and above pragmatic preparation. He reminded us that we pastors often overemphasize practicality to the detriment of our spirituality. He talked about viewing church planting through a “theological lens” and reminded us that Christ must be at the heart of all that we do. Our Christology informs our missiology and our missiology informs our ecclesiology. Often we turn this equation around and begin by dreaming up a vision for what we want our church to look like, then working on a plan to engage the community, and then asking Christ to bless our efforts.
I spent lunch with some great friends from Cornerstone UMC in Auburn, Alabama which was a church plant 12 years ago.
After lunch we were treated to a fantastic main session talk given by Michael Frost. Frost began by telling the story of the wedding between Prince Charles and Lady Diana. The ceremony was beautiful with all the pomp and circumstance that a royal wedding would have, but, as Frost pointed out, there didn’t seem to be any affection shown by the Prince to his soon-to-be bride. When asked by a reporter if he loved Diana, Charles said, “I suppose so.” Using that story as a platform Frost shared with us about how planting a church in a particular context is a lot like a marriage. He said that we could go through all of the motions of moving into the community and making a big deal out of the “ceremony,” but forget to love the people first if we’re not careful.
He said that we need to “romance the city.” I love that statement.
He reminded us that the term missional has always had the term incarnational attached to it, but that we tend to forget what it means to be incarnated people; we get excited about being sent, but intentionally or not, forget to become one with the people.
How do we fall in love with the people of our community?
We adopt a listening posture.
We don’t come in with our prepackaged ideas about what they want or need, we ask them what they need, and we really listen, and we work towards meeting those needs.
He quoted the man who invented the stethoscope who said, “if you use my tool, listen to your patients, they are telling you how to heal them.” Powerful. We need to listen to the people.
Frost challenged us to really be a part of the community. A marriage is strengthened by spending time together; we will strengthen our relationship to the community by eating in local restaurants, shopping at local shops, meeting in local places, and saying “yes” to everything that is asked of us by our community.
He shared about a prophecy that was given to him by a woman in the community in Sydney when he began planting his church there. She told him, “there will come a time when if your church was taken away from the city, they would grieve the loss.”
I want the same to be said of The Journey UMC.
I am more committed than ever to be the kind church where serving the needs of the people of Crestview, FL. and being Christ to those “out there” is more important than building a big building and hoping that the people will “come to us.”
I want to romance the city, and see what happens.
More to come.