If I were a pastor…

Imagine the scenario.  I’m the pastor of a traditional church that’s going fairly well. We’ve been running along at 150 members for several years now. I love the church and the people, but recently I’ve been challenged to think about simple/organic church and the impact it can have on missions. As I pray about it, I realize that at heart, I’m a pioneer and that sticking with the status quo doesn’t fit with my character and gifting. I would love to have the freedom to explore simple/organic church further.

Photo credit: Ministerios Cash Luna (Creative Commons)

Here’s what I decide to do:

  • I’ll speak to my leadership team and explain that I’m getting excited about the concept of reaching into our community via simple/organic church.I’ll tell them that I’m an entrepreneur at heart and that “managing” church is very difficult for me. I”ll ask them if they will release me to follow where I sense the Lord is leading me. I’ll make sure they understand that any new groups I start need to be released unconditionally. They aren’t going to feed into the legacy church either in terms of people or finances but will remain a parallel track for the church.
  • If they give me the go ahead, I’ll find a way to transfer leadership, either to a team of people or to an individual with a pastoral heart for the people in the church. (If they don’t give me the go ahead, I have some decisions to make!)
  • I’ll look for other ways to earn income, and work with the church on a way to transition me gradually out of my full-time salary.
  • We’ll explain to the church the changes that are about to happen. This may take some time. We’ll answer their questions, and let them know that I’ll continue to be involved in the church, just not functioning in the way they’ve known in the past. I’ll get them excited and praying about the missional emphasis this will bring.
  • In the meantime, I’ll be studying everything I can on simple/organic church. I will seek the Lord about where he wants me to start. Is there a natural group I have a lot of contact with? Is he going to lead me to some specific people group?

Obviously the above is purely fictional, but I believe it is a way that anyone could go. It would also work if it was not the pastor of a church but a member of the congregation who wants to stay connected with the church while it releases them to follow the Holy Spirit.

11 thoughts on “If I were a pastor…”

  1. Sounds good, except that most of us who have transitioned from legacy churches to planting simple churches had to go through a period of letting our assumptions and natural way of acting and reacting die. That often takes some time, maybe years. Until that happens, you can’t just pluck someone from one framework and expect him or her to birth or even function in a very different framework. Until our own vision, agenda, insecurities, assumptions and even expectations first die, it is unlikely we will be able to birth something so entirely new.

    I only raise this to help folks be realistic, and not to discourage anyone. It is a wonderful journey, but it is not without it’s difficulties and struggles to get to the place where we are not just coming with a prepared plan, but as a prepared man (or woman!).

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    1. Jim, I’m with you. I don’t think there’s any way to do it quickly, which is why my personal preference would be to not try and transition a church. But most of us who are now in simple church originally came from a legacy church, and God grabbed hold of us with a vision that changed our lives. 

      So what does a pastor do when his vision of church changes?

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      1. Unfortunately, I doubt there is any uniform answer to the question “what does a pastor do when his vision of church changes”.  I wish I had an easy answer, other than learn to listen very very carefully to the Holy Spirit as he leads you forward. That’s easily said, but not so easily done.

        Be willing to make mistakes and be awkward, because that’s where you learn. Be willing to fail, because that keeps you centered on the Lord and helps kill your own agenda. Maybe link up with folks like you all who have planted fellowships and can be a sounding board and
        needed experience.

        But there is no “program” or 10 steps to simple. I thank God we did not get into any pre-canned “program” but learned to adopt and move forward based on our own circumstances.

        For me, I had to learn, by pulling the plug on a “simple” fellowship that my wife and I started after we left a legacy church, that it really wasn’t all up to me. That fellowship was seemingly very successful – we were growing and doing lots of great “ministry” within our county, but it was becoming dependent on me due to my own issues. Even so, I had enough sense to refuse to go that route, and so we pulled the plug.

        When I gave up the vision and the agenda and the belief that it was all up to me, I finally could chill out and totally trust the Lord – both in how our meetings functioned and also in knitting together a community of folk. (And the fact that I could pull the plug on the fellowship says all you need to know about the problems that arose as they sensed my anxiety over the need to make things happen and others then passively allowing me to do so). Once that anxiousness finally died in me, about six months later the Lord started pulling folks together in our area and things just took off. We now have about a dozen fellowships in just the last year and half, with more every month.

        For each of us, the things that will first need to die in us will be different. I have yet to meet anyone who has not had to die to some things, as they finally internalize a whole new set of attitudes and a whole new paradigm, before being effective simple church starters/planters. One of the things, BTW, which helped my paradigm shift was the book you co-authored on “The Rabbit and the Elephant”. It truly was pivotal for me.

        Sometimes I wish I could just bottle church planting and hand it out, because my passion is for His Body. But it doesn’t seem to work that way, does it?

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      2. Jim, there is so much wisdom in what you say. If we are trying to fulfill our own vision and agenda, God will find a way to deal with us–been there, done that and it wasn’t pleasant! Far better to recognize it early and willingly die to self.

        Would you be able to write a guest post that tells your story and these lessons you’ve learned? I think it would be hugely valuable to others.

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      3. James/Jim Wright of Crossroad Junction. Reading your narrative above raises some questions for me.

        1. You and your wife didn’t leave your last legacy fellowship. You were separated at the time. You didn’t choose to leave, you were disfellowshipped or excommunicated.

        2. Based on the witness of a man who knew you, Donovan Bates and who was part of your home fellowship for times from 2006 until 2012 when he last visited, there was no evidence of you pulling the plug on your former fellowship. Things seemed to him to be about the same and operating the same with you doing most of the leading and speaking.

        3. Your claims of numbers of networked fellowships here and compared to as recently as a week ago, radically vary from the more than a dozen and adding every month you claim here and the most recent claim of 3 of about 8 people you made most recently. You never give names or connections and they never that I have seen identify themselves or speak up when you claim to speak on their behalf.

        4. Your final comment with regard to a blog is somewhat duplicitous and tongue and cheek as you do indeed have a blog and you have been using it to attack many who are in a circle of influence and accountability with both Tony and Felicity Dale.

        Please tell the truth Jim Wright and stop with these types of misrepresentations.

        http://bartbreen.wordpress.com/2013/05/20/who-is-jim-wright-nathans-voice-fulcrum-ministries-and-crossroad-junction/

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  2. Here’s another way that might work.  Haven’t tried it yet but am looking for a traditional church that would be willing.  I wouldn’t change anything except…

    I would begin to teach that in the Jewish faith and in the NT, the home, and not the synagogue, was the center of spirituality.  The home was where Torah was taught (Dt. 6), Passover was celebrated and the Shabbat meal celebrated every Friday evening.  I would teach that this view of the home carried over into the NT and that every church mentioned in the bible met in a home and functioned like a small spiritual family.  I would begin to teach that we should see every household in our church as a small church and that it is the role of the larger church (including Sunday morning gathering) to serve these smaller churches.  I would tell them about the Apex Community in Dayton, OH.

    I would begin to watch to see which homes were beginning to take steps in this direction and I would tell their stories.  (“How do you change culture?  By telling an alternate story.”  Illich)  Stories of families listening to God together, sharing Scripture, praying, inviting others to join them (a larger house church) and stories of the family reaching out to the lost and needy in the world.  I would teach them Roger Gehring’s idea that Jesus planted church in homes which became “the base of operations” for the Kingdom of God in that neighborhood.

    I would gather together those families who wanted to move faster in this direction for special support and equipping.  I would buy and pass out resources to those where were interested.  “When the Church was a Family”  (Hellerman), “Father Abraham”  (Wilson), “House Church and Mission”  (Gehring), etc.

    Think it would work?

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    1. John, thanks for these ideas. I’d love to see this tried as an experiment, and we both know the huge power of telling an alternate story. Let me know when you find a church willing to try it!

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  3. Here’s another way that might work.  Haven’t tried it yet but am looking for a traditional church that would be willing.  I wouldn’t change anything except…

    I would begin to teach that in the Jewish faith and in the NT, the home, and not the synagogue, was the center of spirituality.  The home was where Torah was taught (Dt. 6), Passover was celebrated and the Shabbat meal celebrated every Friday evening.  I would teach that this view of the home carried over into the NT and that every church mentioned in the bible met in a home and functioned like a small spiritual family.  I would begin to teach that we should see every household in our church as a small church and that it is the role of the larger church (including Sunday morning gathering) to serve these smaller churches.  I would tell them about the Apex Community in Dayton, OH.

    I would begin to watch to see which homes were beginning to take steps in this direction and I would tell their stories.  (“How do you change culture?  By telling an alternate story.”  Illich)  Stories of families listening to God together, sharing Scripture, praying, inviting others to join them (a larger house church) and stories of the family reaching out to the lost and needy in the world.  I would teach them Roger Gehring’s idea that Jesus planted church in homes which became “the base of operations” for the Kingdom of God in that neighborhood.

    I would gather together those families who wanted to move faster in this direction for special support and equipping.  I would buy and pass out resources to those where were interested.  “When the Church was a Family”  (Hellerman), “Father Abraham”  (Wilson), “House Church and Mission”  (Gehring), etc.

    Think it would work?

    Like

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