Here is a letter I sent to a close friend after our discussion during a break time at a conference.
Thanks so much for listening to me share about our new assignment we have received from the Father. (I had shared how Pandora and I are called to plant a network of “micro-churches” starting in Market Common at Myrtle Beach. “Micro-churches” are churches of 12-20 people meeting in home, businesses and public places. They gather periodically into one gathering for praise and celebration. See a two page summary on the strategy by CLICKING HERE.)
As always your strength as a networker shone through and you began to look up some good contacts to share with me on your phone who you know would be keen on working and sharing with us.
I appreciated you also sharing how God was leading you to be part of leading a large church. I celebrate with you in God’s assignment! It is such a great gift of God’s grace and mercy to let us play a role in the great work he is doing.
Then you went on to describe being in a gathering of church leaders and how the missional community/house church guys were beating up on the large church leader in the room. You mentioned how they used the “rabbit” and “elephant” illustration found in the missional community literature as a stick to beat up on the large church leader. My heart joins you in grieving this needless fighting.
When will ministry leaders wake up and see that God’s Spirit is creative and loves to use many different ways to reach and make disciples of those far from God. He uses large churches, micro-churches, churches led by men and churches led by women, churches with loud music and churches with very quiet music, churches that use one language and churches with many languages. God loves those who remember the history of the church and those running into the future and building bridges for where they see the culture going.
Jeff, I believe those who engage in defending their format of practicing church are often feeling defensive and threatened deep inside. They lack a certainty they are simply servants carrying out the next assignment the Father has given them. They tear down or devalue the works of others in order to gain an assurance they are okay.
I want to cry out, “Look around — go visit the church in Egypt, Iran or China. Visit the urban poor and the affluent new neighborhood. Go to the islands and then go walk a mountain trail to an isolated village. Visit a refugee camp where new people are arriving daily and families living there are living out a cultural family pattern of a new child every year.” In this kind of world we should celebrate that God can organize disciples of Jesus to work like salt and light in any setting.
There are lost people who the Spirit will convict and draw as they sit among thousands. There will be lost people who will need a friend who comes and eats in their home, respectfully absorbs their life story, and helps them connect God’s good news to the bad news going on in their life.
Comparing, competing or tearing down the work of another of Christ’s servants is not new. See Paul’s attacks described in 2 Corinthians and Philippians to remember there is nothing new in Satan’s deceptive strategy of turning the church to devour one another.
Instead of using our energy and creativity to attack how someone else is doing church let us spend time in giving thanks for them and interceding for their fruitfulness.
Let us practice Roman 14 and 15.
“Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. . . . Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.”
I look forward to taking a walk on the beach together and praying for one another!
A fellow servant, Roy