The church doesn’t need you to reinvent it. God may lead you to do ministry a little differently (though almost all of the “new, fresh, casual, relevant” churches tend to look exactly alike), but that is not a reason to plant a church. The church is not a canvas for you to express your individuality. The church is God’s idea and he’ll let you know when it needs to be reinvented.
This has been the modus operandi since the break up of Christendom. It began with the protestants telling the Catholics that they had lost justification by faith. Then the holiness/pietist churches told the established Reformer protestants they had lost the deeper sanctified life of God’s people. In N. America, we started Bible churches when the liberals took over mainline Protestantism in the 1920’s. They had lost the authority of the Bible. In the 1980’s we started seeker churches when the Bible churches became too entrenched in their own Bible speak and Bible rituals that they can no longer make sense to lapsed Baby Boomer Christians. They had lost their ability to speak the gospel in relevant ways. In the last fifteen years, we started progressive “Emergent” churches when the seeker churches become consumeristic and distanced from challenging injustice in the world. They had lost their ability to engage the world for God’s justice. And on and on it goes. We organize ourselves against what the other people aren’t.
One of the points of The End of Evangelicalism? is that we’ve reached the end of this long history. We can no longer expect to successfully cannibalize on ourselves in the planting of new churches. We’re running out of Christians/churches to reform to some truer, purer more relevant form of Christianity. As I said here, lets stop funding church plants (has anyone noticed it ain’t working?) and fund missionaries here in North America. We need to seed fresh expressions of the gospel that engage those outside the faith with the gospel and create the space for God work to bring people to Himself.
With this in mind, I’ve been working on a framework to fund and nurture missionary church planting in North America. I am doing this in partnership with Ecclesia Network and Fresh Expressions here in the United States. What I sketch below is a starting point for this effort. I put this framework out there as a starting point to invite people to let me know how they would change it/develop it (in the comments). If you’re candidate to participate in the program, either through funding it, partnering with it (say if you are a denomination), or being an actual missionary in the program, let me know through e-mail and I’ll keep you up to date on opportunities, and set up meetings when we can.
So here goes! My first shot at laying out a structure for the Luke 10 Project!
Luke 10 Project
We seek to plant missionary communities/new expressions of the gospel in North America. We desire to plant missionary communities. Over against the patterns of the post WW2 years of franchise church planting where churches were either competitive, ordered towards extending a particular brand/denomination of church, or revising the church for relevancy, ALL OF WHICH CATERS TO ALREADY EXISTING CHRISTIANS, we propose to embed missionaries to plant churches that will reach people outside of Christ with the gospel of the Kingdom. We believe all people are ultimately lost until they are reconciled to God and living their lives as life with God and His mission.
WHAT WE DO
Plant three leaders/leader couples in a context. These leaders will know each other (their respective gifts/callings and how they work in complementarity). They will know how to submit to Christ through submitting to each other as a model for discerning life with God in His Kingdom. These leaders will understand the basics of ecclesiology, gathering a people into the Kingdom as a witness to the context.
Give them two years – of housing stipend and health insurance. They will be coached to get a job that can sustain them within this context for the long haul. Yet, with this aid, they can afford to go into a lower paying status where they can learn a skill, grow with the job and become indispensible with their skill. In two years they will be viable, sustainable without any further support. The goal is not to have a financially self-sustaining church organization in 3 years. The goal is to have 3 financially sustainable missionaries/missionary couples inhabiting a context in 2 years.
These leaders will then do the following:
- Exegete/get to know relationally the nooks and crannies of this context. Listen. Get to know people. Get to know where the third places are. Get to know where the hurts are. They will be immersed in a context as a rhythm of everyday life.
- Begin Rhythms of Inhabiting – strategies of living life with intentional inhabiting of third places, places of ministry (like hospitals, food sites. Etc.)
- Begin Rhythms of Mission: Having located places of hurt, or third places, we will join in. We shall be prepared to proclaim the gospel when the Spirit leads. This could take years.
- Begin a Rhythm of discipleship: We will cultivate a discipleship practice among us. We will work with, contextualize the discipleship shapes of Mike Breen and the missional practices of David Fitch, as well as other sources and means of developing a discipleship culture.
- Begin Rhythms Together: of prayer, gathering for worship/eucharist/ sending, discipleship pods, acts of mission engagement all as part of a way of life.
- Start to Gather and Relate: These three leaders will be getting to know other church leaders in the contexts so as to work in concert with them. We seek a renewal of the church as a whole. There will be those who have left church because of its hollow shell. We shall call them back into the Kingdom. There will be people who go to other churches. We refuse, SIMPLY REFUSE, to take them from their church home. But we will invite them to join in with us in Kingdom living in the neighborhood. There will be many outside the gospel who we will invite to join in with various mission engagements we are doing.
I firmly believe that all of the above is to be carried out as a sustainable way of life, not as an excessive work of human effort that consumes and destroys people’s lives. Each leader is to order his/her life so that he/she can work a job of 35 hours a week, and give 15 hours of labor to the cultivation of the Kingdom as everyday life in the context (see my post on the 15 hour rule)
Commit to This Place for Ten Years I firmly believe, if we put three leaders/leader couples in one place, committed to a context for ten years, there will be a fresh expression of the gospel in this locale until the Kingdom is consummated in Christ’s return.
1.) We Work With All Denominations For the Renewal of the Church of Jesus Christ in North America
We will work with all Christian denominations for “evangelical renewal.” By evangelical we do not mean traditional mainline evangelicalism. We mean a vital commitment to the gospel, the whole gospel of the Kingdom of God in Christ. This of course includes personal conversion, and the forgiveness received oin and through Christ’s sacrificial work on the cross. Yet this conversion is also a turning into what God is doing to make the whole world right, not only one’s individual relationship with God. By “evangelical” we also mean a renewal of submitting to Christ by His Spirit for a fresh expression of God’s Kingdom via planting communities in each unreached context in N America.
We seek a commitment to a.) creedal orthodoxy, b.) the inbreaking and coming reign of Christ to renew the world as made manifest among us by the Holy Spirit c.) the fresh expressions of the gospel that result. We uphold a high view of Scripture, the commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ as Lord, the commitment to transformational salvation available to all by invitation into God’s Kingdom in Christ via reconciliation with God and all relationships through the person and work of Christ in the cross and the resurrection, d.) the commitment to the church as God’s means to bear witness to the world of God’s work to reconcile the whole worl to Himself.
2.) There must be at least Three Leaders/LeaderCouples
We seek to embed (at least) three leaders and/or leader couples in places that have need for a renewed witness to the gospel or have been previously resistant to gospel. Our belief is that if we can locate three such leaders in a context, have them committed to the context for ten years, so that they learn it, love it, engage relationally with it and begin a rhythm/way of life out of the gospel, if these same leaders cultivate/discern the Kingdom andsubmit to the Spirit and what he is doing, there will be a fresh expression of the gospel in this context in ten years.
We believe that contraints such as building a self-sustaining ministry that pays a single pastor’s entire salary plus all costs contrains true missionary work. The planting of churches via these means most often devolves into competition for other church members, competition for best religious goods and services to already existing Christians, depletes and exhausts most church planters within three years because such a model is not sustainable (in post Christendom contexts). One person cannot meet the needs that engendered from such a calling of gathered people in.
These three leaders must have a solid foundation theologically in order to stand and plant and discern God’s work in a context. Yet so often, the seminary education that gets a person to this level, trains them to go get an established position in church or try to make their entire living via the church which counteracts mission. Instead, we need to find a way to fund these leaders long term, less stress financially, as well as train them to understand bi-vocationality as a way of life that has flexibility and capability to resist the demissionalizing structures of the church.
To start such projects, we need funding for three plus leader/couples for
a.) housing stipend/health insurance for two years.
b.) part time theological education.
c.) Coaching/assessment for each team
d.) Theological education provided within a context for each leader/couple according to need.
Lees HIER meer oor David Fitch.
Die begin van nuwe geloofsgemeenskappe
1. In watter mate en hoe moet die vorming van nuwe geloofsgemeenskappe geskied met die kennisname en goedkeuring van die plaaslike gemeente en breër kerklike verband?
Vrae in die verband is minder wanneer ’n plaaslike gemeente ’n doelbewuste poging aanwend om nuwe geloofsgemeenskappe te vorm. Die vrae word egter meer wanneer gelowiges aangemoedig word om geloofsgemeenskappe te probeer vestig deur hulle kontak met ongelowiges waar hulle hul ook ontmoet. In so ’n geval kan ’n nuwe
geloofsgemeenskap tot stand kom uit werksverhoudinge, sportaktiwiteite of betrokkenheid by ’n skool ens. Die plek van samekoms is dan dikwels heeltemal buite die geografiese grense van die plaaslike gemeente en diegene wat tuis kom in die nuwe geloofsgemeenskap kom ook uit verskillende gebiede. Nuwe geloofsgemeenskappe groei dikwels primêr deur familie en vriende van verskillende streke wat hulle tuis voel in die nuwe geloofsgemeenskap. Is dit bv. noodsaaklik dat die plaaslike NG Gemeente in die geografiese gebied waar so ’n ’n geloofsgemeenskap bymekaarkom, die projek moet goedkeur of moet dit net geskied met die kennisname/goedkeuring van die gemeente vanwaar die stigter/leier van die nuwe geloofsgemeenskap kom?
Die funksionering van ’n nuwe geloofsgemeenskap
1. Watter vorme van lidmaatskap geld in ’n nuwe geloofsgemeenskap?
By die vorming van nuwe geloofsgemeenskappe gebeur dit dikwels dat mense met ’n ander kerklike agtergrond aktief inskakel by die nuwe geloofsgemeenskap. Alhoewel hulle
vrymoedigheid het om in te skakel by ’n geloofsgemeenskap wat deur die NG Kerk begin en bedryf word, is baie om verskillende redes nie geneë om volle lidmate van die NG Kerk te word nie. Watter kerkregtelike opsies bestaan daar om enersyds aan die lidmate ’n geleentheid te gee om hulle op ’n amptelike wyse as lidmaat/deelnemer van die nuwe geloofsgemeenskap te registreer en andersyds om aan hulle die nodige vryheid te gee om deel van die geloofsgemeenskap te wees sonder om volle lidmaat van die NG Kerk te word. Is daar verskillende vlakke van lidmaatskap moontlik?
2. Aan watter vereistes moet gelowiges voldoen om in die leierskorps van ’n nuwe geloofsgemeenskap opgeneem te word?
Leierskap in nuwe geloofsgemeenskappe is gewoonlik ’n baie groot uitdaging. Is dit moontlik om in die leierskapspan van ’n nuwe geloofsgemeenskap te dien sonder om ’n lidmaat van die NG Kerk te wees? Baie nuwe geloofsgemeenskappe funksioneer sonder
die direkte teenwoordigheid of betrokkenheid van ’n predikant omdat die geloofsgemeenskap deur die bediening van nie-predikante tot stand gekom het en/of daar ook nie ’n predikant beskikbaar is wat direk en dikwels by die geloofsgemeenskap betrokke kan wees nie. Gelowiges neem in die proses funksies oor wat normaalweg met ’n predikant geassosieer word en in die Kerkorde as sy/haar taak omskryf word, soos bv. prediking en die bediening van die sakramente. Tans verleen die Kerkorde slegs aan predikante bedieningsbevoegdheid oor verskeie aspekte van die bediening wat ook in nuwe geloofsgemeenskappe kernfunksies is, maar waarvoor predikante nie beskikbaar is nie.
3 Watter amptelike dokumente is in ander tale as Afrikaans beskikbaar vir gebruik in nuwe geloofsgemeenskappe?
Nuwe geloofsgemeenskappe sluit dikwels mense van verskillende taal- en
kultuuragtergronde in. Watter amptelike dokumente (Kerkorde, Reglemente, liturgieë,
sangbundels, formuliere en belydenisskrifte) is in ander tale beskikbaar?
Die verband tussen nuwe geloofsgemeenskappe en die NG Kerk
1. Watter vorm van verband kan met die NG Kerk aangegaan word waar ’n nuwe
geloofsgemeenskap tot stand gekom het deur die bediening van ’n NG lidmaat (e)
maar die nuwe geloofsgemeenskap wil nie ’n volwaardige gemeente van die NG Kerk
Tans maak die Kerkorde ruimte daarvoor dat nuwe geloofsgemeenskappe kan ontwikkel tot volwaardige gemeentes van die NG Kerk. Voor die status van volle
gemeente, bly die nuwe geloofsgemeenskappe projekte of bedieningspunte van ’n
bepaalde gemeente, of kan as ’n wyksgemeente funksioneer.
Dit is nie ongehoord dat inisiatiewe om nuwe geloofsgemeenskappe te vorm, dikwels daartoe lei dat gelowiges wat om die een of ander rede kerklos geraak het, by so ’n geloofsgemeenskap inskakel. Sodanige mense kom uit ’n bepaalde kerklike tradisie en spiritualiteit en voel om verskeie redes ongemaklik om te ontwikkel tot ’n volwaardige gemeente van die NG Kerk. Tog verwelkom die geloofsgemeenskap die betrokkenheid en ’n verband met die NG Kerk.
2. Op watter stadium kan die nuwe geloofsgemeenskap amptelik in verband tree met ander nuwe geloofsgemeenskappe, gemeentes, ringe en sinodes?
Die Kerkorde maak net voorsiening vir volwaardige gemeentes om in verband te tree met ringe en sinodes. Die vereistes vir volwaardige gemeentes sluit o.a. in geboue,
betaalde predikante en finansiële sekerheid ens.
Voorstanders vir die vorming van nuwe geloofsgemeenskappe verstaan ’n volwaardige
gemeente/kerk primêr organies en nie institusioneel nie. Kerk/gemeente is daar waar diegene wat in Jesus Christus glo, om Jesus as die opgestane Here versamel om God te aanbid en onder sy leiding na die wêreld in woord en daad uit te reik. In die proses word die Woord verkondig, die sakramente bedien en vind onderlinge bemoediging en vermaning plaas. Al hierdie dinge kan met ’n klein groepie in ’n huis of sel plaasvind. Dit is volwaardige kerk alhoewel nie ’n volwasse of volgroeide kerk nie. Gemeentewees word nie deur geboue of predikante bepaal nie. Kan daar vorme van direkte en amptelike verband tussen “huiskerke” en ander gemeentes en ringe wees behalwe via wyksgemeentes of bedieninge van bestaande gevestigde gemeentes?
3. Is dit moontlik dat ’n netwerk van nuwe geloofsgemeenskappe in ’n bepaalde streek as netwerk in verband kan tree met die NG Kerk in breër verband sodat die nuwe
geloofsgemeenskappe direk verteenwoordig kan word by ringe en sinodes?
Sommige leiers betrokke by die vorming van nuwe geloofsgemeenskappe het die ervaring dat alhoewel hulle plaaslike gemeentes vir hulle die ruimte geskep het om nuwe
geloofsgemeenskappe te vorm, hierdie gemeentes nie altyd werklik daarin slaag om hulle eiesoortige uitdagings en behoeftes by die ringe en sinodes te kommunikeer of hulle effektief in te skakel by besinning of bedieninge deur die groter kerkverband nie. Hulle gemeentes verteenwoordig net die nuwe geloofsgemeenskappe, maar daar is nie direkte verteenwoordiging van die nuwe geloofsgemeenskappe in die groter verband nie.
4. Watter vereistes, voorregte en verantwoordelikhede is ter sprake wanneer ’n nuwe
geloofsgemeenskap amptelik in verband met die NG Kerk wil tree?
Tans kom nuwe geloofsgemeenskappe tot stand wat geen amptelike verband met enige ander gevestigde kerk het nie. Sommige van hierdie geloofsgemeenskappe sal ’n nouer verband met ’n gevestigde gemeente hoog op prys stel. So is daar bv. Franssprekende geloofsgemeenskappe in die Skiereiland wat ’n openheid het om in nouer verband met die NG Kerk te tree.
Tchividjian’s church plant, New City, merged with the larger Coral Ridge, but the honeymoon was short-lived. Seven months later a group of church members, headed by Kennedy’s daughter, circulated a petition calling for his removal. On September 20, 2009, Tchividjian survived a vote to remove him from leadership.
Today Coral Ridge has largely moved past the conflict and is thriving. Tchividjian’s energy and enthusiasm (some Coral Ridge staffers call him “the tornado”) belie the recent ordeal. Drew Dyck sat down with Tchividjian to discuss how he endured those dark days, what he learned, and how he found light on the other side.
How did you respond when you received the invitation to come to Coral Ridge?
I was humbled. I was honored. But I wasn’t interested, for a variety of reasons. First of all New City, the church I had planted and pastored for five years, was going strong. God was doing great things in and through that church and I was very happy there. I also wasn’t naïve. I knew that whoever comes in after a founder is probably going to be gone in a year or two. The success rate of guys who follow a founding pastor isn’t great.
Second, Coral Ridge had been in pretty serious decline for 10 or 15 years. While everybody outside the church knew it was declining, most people inside the church thought everything was just fine. There were some people who realized things needed to change, but for the most part people in charge thought everything was okay. So I said “no.” They came back to me two months later and asked if I would reconsider. Again I said, “I’m humbled. I’m honored. But no thank you.”
What finally changed your mind?
They came back five months later, in December of 2008, and asked me to reconsider. And at that time we started talking about merging the two churches. So my ears perked up a little. We were having multiple services in a high school auditorium, so we were looking for property.
We’d set aside some money, and were actively pursuing properties. And so it was initially intriguing to me because I thought, This could be God’s remarkable way of giving us the property that we need. They need a leader; we need a building. But that was really secondary. I started to envision how a merger could potentially serve as a model for other churches. But I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy transition, taking on an established church that had only ever had one pastor and preacher. It wasn’t like wow, we get the big building! We knew that it was going to be hell on earth. We couldn’t predict the specifics of what we were going to face, but we knew it was coming.
Some of the reasons you were opposed seem trivial. You didn’t wear a robe, like Dr. Kennedy did. You weren’t political enough from the pulpit. Was there something beneath those objections?
Not preaching politics was a big one. But yes, I’m sure there was something underlying those complaints. Part of it may have been an old-fashioned power struggle. There were people who had been in places of power under Kennedy who felt that this was their church, and they should be in charge of running it. I think some of them probably saw in me a young guy who would be wide-eyed by coming here and would basically do whatever they said. What they underestimated was that we had prayed and thought hard about what God wanted this church to be, and we were very determined to get there.
What was your initial reaction to the resistance?
Well, we expected it. But it’s one thing to talk about war and another to be a soldier on the ground when the bullets are flying. It was hard. It was the first time in my life where I was leading a church where I knew many people didn’t like me.
Things started blowing up pretty quickly because there were things that had to change immediately. There were issues on staff that had to be addressed immediately, dangerous things. Yet if you’re not in the know, all you see are these changes taking place. To some it looked like we were just being disrespectful, that we were bulls in a china shop. We were coming in as the guest and taking over. So there were a lot of those kinds of accusations. They weren’t accurate, but we couldn’t disclose all the reasons we had to make the changes.
It was tremendously uncomfortable coming to worship every Sunday morning during that time not knowing who liked you and who hated you. There were people in the choir who, when I would stand up to preach, would get up and walk out. People would sit in the front row and just stare me down as I preached. It was extremely uncomfortable. People would grab me in the hallway between services and say, “You’re ruining this church, and I’m going to do everything I can to stop you.” I would come out to my car and it would be keyed. Some people would stop at nothing to intimidate.
They put petitions on car windows during the worship service. They started an anonymous blog, which was very painful. Here we were trying to build consensus and there’s this anonymous blog fueling rumors and lies. The blog almost ruined my wife’s life. Anonymous letters were sent out to the entire congregation with accusations and character assassinations. It was absolutely terrible.
Did you ever question yourself and think, Was I really called here?
Oh, definitely. The shelling got so bad I thought to myself this was a huge mistake. Two churches are ruined now. I could hardly eat, had trouble sleeping, and was continually battling nausea. I felt at the absolute end of myself. In the summer of 2009 when we were in the midst of this, my family and I left to go on vacation. On the first day of vacation, I went out on the balcony of a cabin we rent, looking over the Gulf of Mexico. And I finally just unleashed all of my fury on God. What have you done? I’ve been trying to keep a stiff upper lip and play the role of martyr for truth. But bottom line is, I’m mad. I’ve done everything you asked me to do. I put my baby, the church that I planted, on the altar. I didn’t want to do this in the first place but I submitted and did it. And this is the payment I get from you?
But then I started thinking, why does this bother me so much? Yes, I have people writing nasty things about me, lying about me, spreading rumors about my team. They’re after power. And they’re not getting it, and these are the tactics they’re using. But why does that bother me so much? I remember saying to God in that moment, “Just give me my old life back.” And he said, “It’s not your old life you want back. It’s your old idols you want back. And I love you too much to give them to you.”
I opened up my Bible. In the reading plan I was following, it so happened that the day’s passages included the first chapter of Colossians. As I read those verses, my eyes were opened. My true situation came into focus. I’d never realized how dependent I’d become on human approval and acceptance until so much of it was taken away in the roiling controversy at Coral Ridge.
In every church I’d been a part of, I was widely accepted and approved and appreciated. I’d always felt loved in church. Now, for the first time, I found myself in the uncomfortable position of being deeply disliked and distrusted, and by more than a few people. Now I realized just how much I’d been relying on something other than the approval and acceptance and love that were already mine in Jesus.
I was realizing in a fresh way the now-power of the gospel—that the gospel doesn’t simply rescue us from the past and rescue us for the future; it also rescues us in the present from being enslaved to things like fear, insecurity, anger, self-reliance, bitterness, entitlement, and insignificance. Through my pain, I was being convinced all over again that the power of the gospel is just as necessary and relevant after you become a Christian as it is before.
When that biblical reality gripped my heart, I was free like I had never felt before in my life. It gives you the backbone to walk into a room full of church leaders and say “this is what we’re going to do and this is why we’re going to do it, even if it gets me thrown into the street.”
There is a fresh I-don’t-care-ness that accompanies belief in the gospel. Whether you like me or not doesn’t matter, because my worth and my dignity and my identity are anchored in God’s approval. Christ won all of the approval and acceptance I need.
Your crisis awakened you to your idols. What about the pastor who goes through a crisis and just feels like he can’t even pick his head up off the pillow in the morning?
Oh, that was me. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. Initially I was sad, afraid, and angry. In other words, it’s not like I had this remarkably spiritually mature response. I was just as messed up as the next guy who initially faces a shelling. It’s like, I don’t deserve this. What’s wrong with you?! What’s wrong with me?! That was me. I was frustrated, scared, and mad.
I really needed comfort and encouragement, and thankfully, it poured in from many places. But I didn’t need encouraging words about my self-worth. I didn’t need to find the hero within. No, my problem was stemming from the fact that I’d dug deep trying to find the hero within when what I needed to do was to die. I didn’t need to pull myself up by my bootstraps. I needed to let go. I could only find the greatest sense of comfort and encouragement by looking up instead of in. It’s very counterintuitive. But like Jesus said, “If you want to find life, you have to lose it.”
How did you rebuild and restore unity?
There were a couple of things we did to rebuild. From Easter of 2009 to the end of September 2009, it was war. After the vote to remove me from leadership in September till December, it just felt like everyone was still in shock. It was aftershock. There was this big mess. The attitude was let’s just everybody grab a broom and start sweeping. There was a lot of pastoral care and counsel happening at that time. We were cleaning up the mess and it was hard. It was very painful. We were trying to reassure people, even those who stayed but were still skeptical. For many the jury was still out. They were sticking it out, but had heard so many bad things that they were watching and waiting to see what would happen.
Something changed at Christmas. We felt like the ship turned, and in January I started preaching through Colossians. The series was called “Jesus plus nothing equals everything.” And that was a foundation-laying series of 22 sermons. Basically it was me saying the answer is the gospel. The answer to everything we’ve been through as a church, the answer to everything you will go through as an individual, the answer to the brokenness of your marriage and the brokenness of your family, the answer is the gospel. It’s Jesus plus nothing. It’s not Jesus plus a particular style of music. It’s not Jesus plus a certain agenda. That was foundation-laying. There was real rebuilding happening through the winter and spring of 2010.
Then we made a big decision in June 2010. One of the things I inherited when I came to Coral Ridge was a contemporary / traditional worship service split. We decided to combine the services. This was monumental in terms of rebuilding unity. I knew we had to get rid of the two-service format. I had known all along it had to go away, but I didn’t address it immediately because there were so many other things I needed to address. But after I preached the “Jesus plus nothing equals everything” series, I went to the elders and said it’s time. It’s time to pull the trigger and eliminate these separate services. And so we made the decision and announced it to our congregation. We were all going to be coming together. It’s been incredible to see the energy and unity that has come out of that decision.
There’s been a lot of talk about how the gospel is for Christians. Have we forgotten that the gospel is for pastors too?
Yes! I mean it has to be for pastors first. There’s absolutely no way that our people will experience the liberating now-power of the gospel if the pastor doesn’t even know what the liberating now-power of the gospel looks like. When I speak to pastors I say, “There is only one thing that will enable you to survive, and that’s the gospel. It’s not whether your church grows or not. It’s not having the right leadership principle. All of those things might be helpful, but the gospel is the only thing that will save you in ministry.” You inevitably face crises, slander, unfair criticism, pressure to perform in your professional and personal life. You have to have a model marriage. You’ve got to have the model children. You’ve got to be the one logging hours of private prayer every day. I mean there is heavy-duty pressure on pastors to be spiritual giants. What I love about the freeing, liberating power of the gospel is I can stand up on a Sunday morning without fear or reservation and be able to identify my own idols in front of my people. I’ll say things like, “I hate to admit this, but part of my motivation for preparing the sermon that I am preaching today is because I want you to think I’m a good preacher. It accentuates my sense of worth.” Is that embarrassing to admit? Absolutely! But it’s incredibly liberating. I don’t have to feel like I have to always be on, that I always have to be performing well, that every sermon’s got to be a homerun, that I’ve got to be modeling perfect piety before all of our people. The pressure’s off. Jesus measured up so I wouldn’t have to live under the enslaving pressure of measuring up for others. And that’s good news.
- Missionaal– om mense buite die kerk te dien;
- Kontekstueel– om na mense te luister en hulle kultuur te betree;
- Opvoedkundig– om dissipelskap ‘n prioriteit te maak;
- Ekklesiologies– om kerk te vorm.
‘n Uitdrukking “vars uitdrukkings van die kerk” kan vaag en onduidelik wees. Die etiket word soms gebruik om enigiets te bedek – selfs ‘n nuwe kennisgewingbord! Dit kan tot ‘n sekere soort sinisme lei.
Sou hierdie vier punte ons kon help om nuwe betekenis te gee aan die terminologie? Sou ‘n gemeente of ring byvoorbeeld ‘n beleid het om vars uitdrukkings te bevorder, wat het dit in gedagte om aan hierdie kriteria te voldoen?
As ‘n plaaslike gemeente ‘n spesifieke inisiatief beskryf as ‘n vars uitdrukking, voldoen dit eweneens ook aan hierdie kriteria? En selfs al voldoen dit nie hieraan nie, kan die onderneming selfs ‘n lofwaardige saak wees. Maar ten minste skep die gemeente nie meer die verkeerde verwagtinge nie.
As dit wat jy doen dus meestal gerig is op kerkgangers of dis ‘n ouer-kleuter-groep sonder enige planne om ‘n volwaardige gemeente te word (dalk ‘n selkerk van ouers en kleuters), is beide waardevolle projekte, maar dit pas nie in die omskrywing van ‘n vars uitdrukking in nie.
Ander terme wat ook dieselfde sê as vars uitdrukkings, is: ontluikende kerk, nuwe vorme van kerk, kerkplanting.
In die sentrum van vars uitdrukkings staan ‘n ander manier om oor kerk te dink. Die meeste bestaande kerke funksioneer met ‘n “julle kom na ons toe” gedagtelyn.
‘Wil jy by ons aansluit?’ is ‘n uitnodiging om na ‘ons’ kerk toe te kom, ingerig soos ons is, op ‘n tyd wat ons pas, in ‘n styl wat ons selfs vooraf opgestel het. Die vloei van mense is van buite na binne: van die wêreld af na die gemeente toe.
Vars uitdrukkings het in plaas daarvan ‘n ‘ons sal na jou toe kom’ denkrigting. Dit begin nie met ‘n uitnodiging (‘Kom na ons toe op ons terme’), maar ‘n aanbod (‘Ons is bereid om na jou toe te kom, jou tye dien en by jou te bly – in jou styl en nie ons s’n nie’).
Die oogmerk is nie om ‘n intreevlak toit ‘n bestaande kerk te skep nie, maar om volwaardige gemeentes in eie reg te ontwikkel. Die vloei van mense is van die gemeente af na mense aan die buitekant – nie na binne nie, maar na buite.
Vars uitdrukkings is ‘n nuwe paradigma, en nie ‘n nuwe model van kerk-wees wat nageboots word nie. Dis ‘n paradigma wat nie met kerk begin nie, maar met mense wat nie aan die kerk behoort nie.
‘n Spektrum van vars uitdrukkings bestaan
- Die vernuwing van ‘n bestaande gemeente deur sending, en veral deur noukeurig te luister na die nie-kerkgangers wie die gemeente geroep is om te dien.
Dit sou kon insluit ‘n radikale transformasie van die alle-ouderdomme aanbiddingstyl, byvoorbeeld, of die herbedinking van ‘n midweek erediens.
- Die heruitvinding van ‘n bestaande ‘randgroep,’ sendingprojek of gemeenskapsdiens sodat dit nie meer ‘n intreevlak is tot die erediens op ‘n Sondag nie, maar sodat dit kerk in eie reg kan word.
‘n Jeuggroep kan byvoorbeeld groei tot ‘n jeuggemeente, ‘n middageteklub vir oumense kan ‘n erediens verskaf na die ete.
- Die ontwikkeling van ‘n nuwe geloofsgemeenskap binne ‘n ring as ’n gesamentlike sending-inisiatief. Dikwels word dit gelei deur nie-predikante en beskik oor ‘n relatief klein begroting.
‘n Informele erediens in ‘n plaaslike ontspanningsentrum en ‘n mid-week naskool ontmoeting vir ete en aanbidding is twee voorbeelde.
- ‘n Groot sendinginisiatief wat etlike gemeentes of ringe betrek. So projek sal dikwels oor ‘n voltydse pos beskik en ‘n meer substansiële begroting hê.
Dit kan ‘n netwerkgemeente vir Generasie X in ‘n middestad wees, of ‘n dorpwye tienergemeente of ‘n huiskerk in ‘n nuwe woonbuurt.
Is ‘vars uitdrukkings’ dieselfde as ‘emerging church?’
Emerging church het veral in die Verenigde State van Amerika ‘n populêre term geword om allerhande nuwe maniere van kerk-wees te beskryf. Daar is egter aanduidings dat hierdie term in onbruik begin verval.
Daar is ten minste drie groeperings in die ’emerging church’ familie:
- Diegene wat oor die Christendom en ons veranderende kultuur nadink en skryf. Hulle worstel met die uitdagings wat voor die deur van die Christelike geloof beland het deur ‘postmoderne’ denke en gedrag: Hoe kan die evangelie in kontak kom met vandag se wêreld? Wat sou die implikasies vir die kerk wees?
- Diegene wat nuwe vorme van kerk wees ondersoek vir mense wat nog steeds kerk toe gaan (maar dikwels op die punt staan om te loop). Dis tipies diegene wat met alternatiewe aanbiddingstyle en outentieke gemeenskap eksperimenteer. Baie van hierdie mense het ‘n missionale hart, maar hulle wegspringpunt is om met gelowiges te werk wat ongelukkig is met die bestaande kerk.
- Diegene wat nuwe vorme van kerk wees ondersoek vir en met mense wat nie kerk toe gaan nie. Sommige van hierdie innoverende vorme van kerk het ‘n vrugbare rekord, maar ander is jonk, klein en kwesbaar. Alhoerwel almal nie die term sal gebruik nie, sou hierdie gemeenskappe beskryf kon word as ‘vars uitdrukkings van kerk wees.’
Al drie hierdie groepe erken dat die samelewing verander het en dat die kerk ook moet verander. Die uitdaging is om te sien dat God aan die werk is in elkeen en aan te moedig wat God besig is om te doen.
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