The Cost of Apostleship

Chris —  July 16, 2014 — 2 Comments

“I don’t know how you just talk to people like that, Chris.”

This subtly offensive statement was one I have heard a lot. For a little while, I hosted a weekly dinner where I invited some non-Christian friends from a nearby Starbucks to eat with a few from my church.

It didn’t go very smoothly. For these church friends, talking to people outside our church community was pretty hard. Some saw it as a challenge to grow. Others saw it as an unattainable “gift” I had.

“I just can’t imagine taking the risk of starting something.”

This one I hear all the time from pastors and teachers, searching through an ever shrinking pool for the perfect church job. These statements depict the reality of today’s church for so many. We are constituents and employees of the institution.

Many churches seem to have forgotten the two most basic impulses of an organism: reproduce and adapt.

Or to use more Biblical language:

We have forgotten how to be an Apostolic movement.

THE COST OF

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In his album “Hillarious,” Comedian Louis C.K. rails against the over stimulation of children. He laments that television and video games have made it impossible for children to enjoy everything from the taste of an apple to the pleasures of a sunny day.

(Warning: Explicit)

 

We know that we will never “out-entertain” the world. Fewer of us will have the finances to try.

An increasing number of people today are arguing for a “slow church” or a hyper-localized church. Both of those are helpful, but I would suggest going one step further.

How about a really, really boring church?

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I’ve made the hyperbolic claim that in ten years, only church plants will be left. Don’t hear me celebrating.

I love the church. Even with their shortcomings, I love the fellowship of churches I grew up in.

The little church in Denver I grew up in was a relic when I arrived. It had been formed by dust bowl refugees of the Bible Belt and practiced an anachronistic approach to faith.

Yet, despite (or perhaps, because of) that, many of us have held on to faith. How we practice looks different today. That doesn’t mean we’re ungrateful.

Some churches won’t change. They’ll eventually die. Others will change and become something that has little to do with the body and bride of Christ presented in the New Testament. New churches will be planted.

Along the way, I hope we can hold on to these ten priceless heirlooms of the previous generation.

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Believe me: In ten years, only church plants will be left.

Okay, that’s a bit of hyperbole, but here’s where I am coming from:

Recently, I was discussing with someone from an older church in an established denomination an incredibly difficult situation that her home church was experiencing. One party in the church had made a decision. This led to a lot of hurt feelings. A bunch of people left the church.

The person went on to visit a new church. The people there did not seem interested in welcoming outsiders or building community.

Not surprisingly, both churches were immersed in internal politics and  jargon, making hospitality nearly impossible.

These are difficult issues that all communities face. However, it is hard to imagine either of the situations she described taking place in a missionally focused church plant.

Many established Churches are fighting to maintain their definition of orthodoxy, enforce their traditions and finance structures and staff. The number of people who understand or care about those things are burning out or dying of old age.

It’s only a matter of time before Church plants are all that is left. Continue Reading…

From 1892 until 1954 millions of “tired, huddled masses” made the same stop on their way into the United States, Ellis Island. No matter who you were or where you were from, if you were going to be an American, you would have to stop here.

Across the United States, there are approximately 1,300 churches who top out over 2,000, the unofficial definition of a megachurch. For untold thousands, these are the homes where many come to faith. They are the places where everyone in the family can learn the way of Jesus in a format that speaks to their age, race or taste.

They also serve as a sort of “Ellis Island” for many Christians.

Some are raised there. Some come to faith there. Many land at a megachurch because they are new in town. Megachurches have a lot of people and a lot of tasks to do, so it’s easy to jump right in.

For the better part of a decade, I’ve been involved in church planting, and I’ve noticed a trend: Entire groups of people migrating together from one of the local Megachurches to other communities.

My first response to this was cynical and heartless, assuming that they were just religious consumers looking for the next cool thing. That might be true for some of them. I also found that many of them are deeply wounded by their religious experience.

They aren’t “churched,” “unchurched,” “dechurched” or even “church-hoppers.” They are desperately trying to hold on to faith after getting the crap kicked out of them by church.

Megachurches are the first stop for many of today’s Christians. When they leave that church, it is often with wounds that must be treated at their next church.

Seven Church Systems that Chew People Up and Spit them Out

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