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Seven Things I Would do Differently as a Planter - Part Two

Seven Things I Would do Differently if I was Planting a Church Today - Part Two

 

By Pastor Scott Thomas
Acts 29 Director and Mars Hill Church Executive Elder

 

Read Part One

 

After planting, replanting, coaching church planters and directing a network, I have gained some valuable insight that I would apply if I was planting a church today. I am as committed to my role as director, but I reflected on ways I could have made my church plant better.

Here are my thoughts:

1.    I would expose the gospel to the fullest extent as possible in every context, relationship, conflict and teaching.

 

See part one


2.    I would connect with God as I connected culture.


See part one

 


3.    I would focus on developing missional communities as expressions of the gospel in as many contexts as possible.


A missional community is a committed core of believers who live out the mission together in a specific area or to a particular people group by demonstrating the gospel in tangible forms and declaring the gospel to others—both those who believe it and those who are being exposed to it. This community is led by a team to shepherd, equip and organize a community on mission.
This group is the church throughout the week. They identify, equip and send out new men to lead missional communities. Missional Communities operate unlike a Bible study and more like a family, a missionary team, a band of servants and eager learners.


I was attending a small group years ago and one of the participants mentioned that she was struggling with honoring her father the way the commandments stated because her father had raped her as a child. This was a real issue, a hurdle for her to clear. She felt dirty still after years of abuse and she refused to honor her Dad who abused her as a child. The group leader said, “Okay, we better get through this lesson.” He completely missed the point of the community. He thought it was an academic process and not a family issue. No man would just ignore that statement made by his daughter or wife so he could continue his conversation.


These missional communities may come together to form a church. For instance, one group meets that replicates and those two groups replicate into four groups. A leader is identified among the communities and this person builds into the formation of the leaders. These groups may come together to grow into a church in the future.


As a normal method, these groups come together, they enjoy food together, they pray together, and they learn together. They discuss their mission and the ways they are serving the community.

 


4.    I would focus on developing young men for the mission of Jesus.


Emasculated men are the norm. Most young men have brokenness with their fathers. Macho men are typically posers. They are hiding behind their toughness so others will not see their frailty. They hide behind their academia, their success, their busy-ness, their sexual prowess, etc. Emasculated men are not necessarily effeminate, but they are hiding from their own weaknesses.


The problem is that only men can build men and too many pastors are broken as well and have their own father issues. That’s usually why some go into ministry—to get validated.


Anthony Bradley said at an Acts 29 event,  “Your church will suck if you do not have strong men.”
The typical church is made up of 39% men and 61% of women. Most boys raised in church will abandon it as a young man. If a mother comes to faith, the rest of her family follows 17% of the time. 93% of the time it is true with the father coming to faith. (Barna Research).


We prefer the men in our church to be mules. A mule does not act like a jackass and they are able to carry larger loads and endure longer than a horse. They are tamer than a jackass but do not seem to want to run like a stallion. I think many pastors prefer a mule to a stallion. Stallions are designed to run and not be penned up in a stable. We are generally afraid of stallions because we are afraid of our own masculinity, our leadership, and our “importance” to the Christian community.  We are afraid that the stallion will steal our oats and our affirmation by “our” people. Since our own fathers did not affirm us, this is seen as a threat. We value Steady Eddie instead of Daring Dan. Christianity is a radical following of Jesus. The problem with being a mule is that it is almost always sterile.


The Heavenly Father delights in us as His sons and expressing this fact advances the gospel. We are accepted in spite of our sin through the person of Jesus and thus, we are reconciled to our Father. Jesus came to men and called them to follow; to leave their nets and to follow Him. Men are looking for others to lead them into a radical adventure of the gospel. They are attracted to the crazy ideas, not the boring. Most churches invite men to pass out bulletins and mow the grass as the great adventure. That’s why they prefer staying home on Sundays watching masculine sports on TV or doing masculine things at home.

Look for Part Three tomorrow...final installment.

 

Three upcoming boot camps:

Raleigh - February 2009

Seattle - March 2009

San Diego - May 2009

 

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Scott Thomas has served as the President of Acts 29 Network and a Pastor at Mars Hill Church. Scott has been a pastor for 30 years—first as a youth pastor and then as a lead pastor and church planter/church replanter for 16 years.