A Bad Thing?

Over the past few months I have become increasingly aware that there are many (Mostly “Big Christian Leader Men” in the Evangelical world) who seem to think that making disciples, and seeing new communities of faith birthed is a “Bad Thing…?”

Interesting.

I know what you are thinking: “Aaron, what do you mean they think it is a bad thing!? It has become VERY popular, and many pastors are starting to pursue planting churches out of their churches!?”

This is true. Pastors ARE realizing that if they are to be kingdom churches they must be starting new ones. However, I have noticed that “they” love church planting so long as it is either:

1) Planted directly out of their church

2) They can SOMEHOW take credit for the fruit produced

3) BOTH

In other words: If it continues to grow “their thing”, benefit them in some way, and DOES NOT challenge/get in the way of what they are pursuing then “yes of course we are a church planting church!”

The “question”, “A Bad Thing…?”, resulted after I became aware of several different situations taking place all over the country. The students, and young people we train to start lay-led simple churches have shared that they are constantly getting flack from institutional church pastors/Christian leaders.

For some reason the FIRST response from the pastors to these students after the students share what God has been doing is to: “Burst their bubble, reign on their parade, question God’s activity, doubt what is going on, oppose what they are doing, WARN them AGAINST it, and challenge them to the point of COMPLETELY delegitimizing what is taking place.” (Usually based upon extra-Biblical, Cultural American church concerns.)

This breaks my heart, and leaves me in awe. Picture it: young people all over the country being equipped/empowered/released to go onto their campuses and into their neighborhoods to plant Gospel seeds. In the process new decisions for Christ are made, and new disciples Baptized. Then, new communities of faith are being birthed as a result. Students are Baptizing students, who are then going and Baptizing OTHER students. Churches are birthing, and birthing OTHER new churches! This is bad? Dangerous?

It saddens me that these Christian leaders, for whatever reason, HINDER the movement of the Spirit by abusing their “authority” and influence in the lives of younger Christians. Instead, my prayer is that today’s Christian leaders would rise up to Spiritually Father these young people by affirming and encouraging them to keep moving forward; yes, even if it means their churches have one less member.

Thoughts?

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19 thoughts on “A Bad Thing?

  1. I think your post is drop-dead on target.

    There’s a church whose leadership says they want to support us (not sure what that means yet) when we move to NC, but the rub is going to come when they find out exactly what we’ll be doing. Then we’ll see if they’re serious.

    It is disheartening to see that, at the present time, what guys like you and I are doing isn’t seen as “legit” church. But our hope and focus isn’t on what folks like that think. It’s on Jesus. I think that, down the road, when what we do becomes more… visible (for lack of a better term), some may come around. In the meantime, I’m praying for unity, and am going to be working toward it.

  2. That last comment was serendipitously ripped from Frank Viola. It was his latest Twitter update. I used it as a sarcastic and ironic attempt at a jovial jab. I do not actually agree with the second half of the quote. It’s a bit too general.

    I do think, however, as we have talked about before that one should be careful not to judge the motives of others. Especially church leaders.

    Stick with the

    • It’s good stuff Matt. I may not have made it clear in the post, but there is no judging the motives of anyone going on here. All I have done is shared an experience. The “Christian Leaders” I have mentioned are not being judged by me. I have made NO judgment about anything. They have reacted, and I have shared their reaction. Though they may be reacting out of “good intentions” that does not make it any more “ok”. I can refuse to condone something without judging it. ya know? I’m not upset, just heartbroken and confused that we are at a time in the American Church where Christian leaders would be opposing the very thing that they have been trying to pursue for years, and NOT EVEN realize it….I do not question the motives, or heart. I have no reason to believe that there is any EVIL going on, or hidden agenda. It’s the things that are happening that are not realized that concern me, which is the very reason I share things like this. If these leaders realized what they were doing they might stop. =) They might realize that Students making disciples & planting churches isnt….a….Bad Thing? Ya know?

      • Haha. Ok so i went back and re-read the post, and see exactly where you’re coming from. My wife also pointed out that it DOES come across a bit RUDE, PRIDEFUL, ARROGANT, JUDGMENTAL. (Ouch. Thank you lovely wife, seriously=) In the post I questioned the reason some pastors are planting churches….It wouldn’t have hurt to leave that part out, and only discuss how they have challenged and deligitimized what the Lord is doing with young people. I don’t know why I felt the reason to question the motives of these men who are planting churches out of their churches. I’ll have to go in a do some *disclaimers* and edits later. Thanks for always staying on top of me, and challenging me to stay humble and not slip into some traps. Love ya.

  3. I do, however, completely agree with this twitter by Frank:

    “To impute evil to another person’s motives is among the greatest of all sins, and it grieves the Lord Jesus Christ.”

    Food for thought.

  4. I am so excited to see lay-led simple churches springing up! I believe this is how the early church spread like wild fire. I have been a church planter for many years (lay member) and have dreamed of the small group doing the same thing; however, there always seemed to be a dichotomy present. There was an emphasis on the small group being the Acts 2:42-47 church but a requirement to grow, multiply, turn in reports, perform. It became a task and the enjoyment of loving Jesus and loving people became conflicted. What was I doing? Building God’s kingdom or building man’s kingdom? Of course, throw in a little pride, people pleasing, and all the things that success oriented people desire and you have a recipe for failure: both personally and for the American church (sorry to offend anyone if I have).

    I have continued to embrace community and the church (though conflicted at times) and have found God faithful. I now see that I can pursue God 100%, build community without a man’s name or church’s name, and disciple young believers with the fervor in which I was once discipled. I have found a pastor who releases his flock to run after God in whatever way He has called one to run and to do so with abandon.

    My prayer is that as each of us journeys through this transition to the way, I believe, church planting was intended to be, is that we would be patient in waiting for God to work in the hearts of leaders. At the same time, I believe that we should run with fervor in obedience to what God has called us to do: reach the lost with gospel of Jesus Christ, baptize those newly saved, and disciple them in their new faith by living life with them in community. Who can argue with that?

    I am reminded of what Gamaliel told the counsel of Pharisee’s in Acts 5:38 “..for if this plan or action is if of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them…”

    Walk in boldness and courage with respect and humility and let the Lord prepare the way before you. He is faithful and He will grow His church!

    • Thanks so much Marsha for the encouragement, fresh perspective, and reminder to stay humble…something that I may have lost touch with while writing this post…You guys are such a blessing to the Ft. Worth crew, and I am thankful to God for you. Love.

  5. Aaron – I think you’re really seeing the outworking of the underlying differences between those who ultimately believe that the Holy Spirit is trustworthy in building HIS church, and those who think there must be a regulated system of human oversight to make sure no one “goes off course”. You are witnessing firsthand the shortcomings of depending on a hierarchy to protect the Gospel. When we do see that, we are actually pushing the Holy Spirit aside, feeling more comfortable being in control ourselves, and as such, we actually hinder and discourage those who experiencing new life in the Spirit for the first time.

    You already summed it up perfectly though, if it is from God, then nothing will be able to stand in it’s way…. Amen.. We all need to walk boldy and with courage, and also with respect and humility. Wise words. Stay strong. – Daniel

    • Thanks Daniel. Good word. I struggle with walking boldly in courage, but staying respectful and humble…My post may have accidentally fallen on the NOT HUMBLE?RESPECTFUL side…so….some amending may be in order….=)

  6. Whoa, whoa Aaron! Hold on before you start the process of putting your foot in your mouth. I do not for a second hear you questioning the motives of other church leaders. You are only responding to the reactions that you have seen yourself and had reported to you by others. Nowhere do I see you questioning the motives behind these reactions… So before you try and reign yourself in because your observations make others uncomfortable, remember that people hardly ever respond to a prophetic word by saying “really, we’re hindering the Spirit? Oh thank you so much for pointing that out!” I suppose sometimes that’s the case, but typically, people are less than interested in being shown that their little personally-stamped ministries are actually not the whole picture…

    Only God sees the whole picture, He is the One planting the seed in people’s hearts, watering it, making it grow. We only get to be used in that process as God orchestrates things. The disconnect happens when certain individuals have their livelihoods depending on a “flock” that looks to them for everything. Having a professional clergy, along with all the other stuff that we think makes a church “legit”, only serves to perpetuate this desire to control the work of God, to keep things within human-scale boundaries that we can monitor and maintain. That is why what you and so many others are doing is viewed as “dangerous”, because it cannot be controlled by men, nor is trying to be… Such thinking is diametrically opposed to the conventional pyramid-structured approach, it threatens everything. It is the holy Spirit’s fire, which theatens to burn through our feeble houses made of sticks…

    If you were attacking certain individuals, and questioning their salvation or something, that would be one thing. But to simply hold up the tangible actions of others who profess the name of Christ, and compare it with the Word, this is no sin. It is what we see the men and women of Faith doing from cover to cover in the bible. Truth always has it’s critics. Truth always shakes the foundations of those who are comfortable with the way things are… But it is the Truth that matters….

    • Hey man, thanks so much for the encouragement, and perspective. I do agree with you about prophetic voices, and TRUTH burning away things that don’t belong, etc. I just realized that I lumped so great guys into a category they didn’t belong by making a general statement, and accused them wrongly…Either way, I figured i’d better err on the side of humility on this one…thanks again. Can’t wait to meet you guys!

  7. Pingback: Amendment…Ouch. « A Holy Discontent’s Weblog

  8. Aaron,

    As a fellow radical, and a reluctant one, let me say that being a radical sucks. It does. Because there’s no nice way to say, “Away with the noise of your songs” or “You brood of vipers”, etc.

    The religious elite of the day hated and opposed Jeremiah, Isaiah, and of course, our Lord, Jesus to the point of death.

    Of course, I’m also like you in that I find myself speaking passionately, even truthfully about something without always taking the time necessary to check my tone and correct my language so that, if at all possible, my words might be seasoned with the love of Christ.

    I also praise God for my wife, Wendy, who has often proof-read my articles and blogs and saved me a lot of grief with her insight.

    I want to encourage you, Aaron, to continue to speak the truth- whenever possible, in the love of Christ, but don’t be surprised whenever people oppose you for pointing out the painful truth to them.

    You cannot control how people respond to what you write, but you can control how you respond to them. As you say, err on the side of humility and you’ll be alright.

    As for me, I’m still learning how to lovingly call the Bride to wake up and to respond to the voice of the Good Shepherd without offending or insulting them in the process.

    I think you’re doing a better job at this than I am, so please keep going.

    Blessings, my brother!

    Peace,
    Keith

  9. Hi Aaron! I’m the guy you talked to about my question to Frank Viola regarding “likeminded” people at the Recalibrating Church session.
    I really like what you guys are doing, I perused your blog and website. I am getting closer to the answers I have been seeking, it was an interesting week for me. Lots of dialog. Yesterday a pastor told me denominations were a GOOD thing. I was really surprised by that. We discussed a small independent group fellowship using the same building as his church on sunday evenings when his church does not meet. He was not going to really announce anything about them, saying basically that the Baptists were his flock…. it would be like recommending another fellowship up the street over this one he said. Anyway, I think it may not be abuse of authority or anything devious, but a typical response to “guarding” the flock… ie. doctrinal or cultural misconduct may occur perhaps a fear of a wandering flock.
    Anyway I wanted to say hello, and best wishes brother!
    Larry Baker,
    Bandon, Oregon
    larry@101computers.tv

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