the “inner church planter”

Quick note: There have been a few good comments on the “questions for Christians” post below, including the great question, “Who/what is God?” Chime in if you’d like to (this has been a great conversation!)

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A few days ago, on the Greater Boston Church Planting Collaborative blog, leader and director Ralph Kee posted the following question:

Question: If the “inner church planter” were awakened this year in hundreds of ordinary earnest Christians in Greater Boston, how would that enthusiasm, that extraordinary resource, be effectively put to work in Greater Boston and beyond?

Here is my response … I’d like to hear your thoughts:

First off, we must acknowledge the fact that church planting is not the end-all of the kingdom of God. No where in the Bible are we commanded to “go, ye, and plant churches.” We are, however, told to “make disciples,” teaching them to follow Jesus’ example and instructions closely. This is an important distinction to make, because unfortunately, our church planting often doesn’t automatically yield radical disciples of Jesus.

I see “the point” of our relationship with Jesus as being centering our lives around the Creator as we emulate and imitate the way of Jesus in this world. This is what I want to be about, for myself and in encouraging those around me — both Christian and non-Christian. This, to me, is higher priority than “planting a church.” When people begin to center their lives on God and follow the way of Christ, they will be drawn into community with others who are doing the same thing.

Also, it begs mentioning that not every “ordinary Christian” will feel a call to “plant churches.” Many will feel a call to impact, in small but significant ways, those around them, but fewer are called to facilitate the planting of a new community of faith. Neither is more or less important than the other — they are both crucial to the kingdom of God.

I know these are often perceived as being differences in symantics, but I maintain that these are crucial differences. For instances, what impact could a phrase like, “Going to church” have on a Christian person? I think it has the potential to lead us to believe that church is somewhere we go, something we do — rather than who we are.

That said, I think I understand the crux of your question, Ralph, and I am a firm believer that all Christians are gifted in specific ways, but few truly live completely into their giftings (to the edification of the community of faith). I believe that more “ordinary Christians” (I’d count myself in that category…) need to read Ephesians 4 and think and pray about their giftings, along with seeking community discernment on the subject.

More than finding the “inner church planter,” however, I would like to see more Christians begin to listen to the Lord and truly — maybe for the first time — be completely led by Him. This is difficult, in our world of day planners, slick presentations, 5-year goals, etc. Much of our church planting has been done this same way — all laid out well before reaching the mission field. What if we began to listen to God throughout the process, seeking His will for a particular area over our own? Do we believe that God loves the people of Boston more than we do?

I am convinced that when people begin to make God the center of their lives, their practices will continually repeat around that center. They will do the basics of the Christ-life: listen and do. Listen to God, and do what He says.

When this happens throughout a city, watch out…

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