Archives For church planting

This Headline Caught My Eye

Erik Cooper —  January 27, 2011 — 8 Comments

As a church planter, this headline caught my eye. As in a right hook. I may need stitches.

Read the full article here.

I suppose in the economic scheme of things, this is nothing but a logical progression. But it’s definitely got my co-pastor Nathan LaGrange and I talking at City Community Church. Is owning a building something we ever want to mess with?

We’ve become hesitant to ever say never, especially since a majority of the things we thought we knew about leading a church have completely shifted in the 22 months since CityCom’s launch. Crisis can force emotional responses (even when it’s a crisis you’re watching others face), but it can also squeeze out some brutal honesty.

So I’m curious. For those of you who are part of a church with no owned facility, do you still aspire to have one? And for those of you who do own a facility, do you ever wish you didn’t?

For any of you out there contemplating the start of a new church, I have a bit of advice.  Listen to me now.  This is important.  Tuck it away somewhere where you can look back on it regularly.  This isn’t shared in any of the church planting books or boot camps, but I’m telling you, this little nugget will save you a massive migraine.

Building a church with people who really want to follow Jesus is a bad idea.

I know.  Sounds crazy.  But it’s true.

Jesus followers are bad church builders.  Well, at least the kind of “church” a lot of us immediately sketch in our minds when we hear the familiar word.

As a church leader, prefer those who are just looking for some friends.  Those longing for relational connections with a few God overtones.  Those who want to build their social hierarchy around a church culture.  They’re so much easier to deal with.

Look for people who are settled. In control.  Those who have painted a vivid, stable picture of their futures – their destinies, what they want for their lives – and then just want to sprinkle a little God into the sauce like oregano or thyme (seriously, isn’t thyme is such an under-appreciated seasoning?).

Passion is good.  Passion for you. For your sermons and preferred style of worship.  For your kids program or the layout of your building. This kind of passion stays put. On course.  And barring an unforeseen transfer or poorly calculated misstep on your part (i.e. changing the color of the carpet in the lobby), stays solidly attached to your congregation.

Stay far away from Jesus followers.

They’re the ones connected directly to Christ, not just your church organization. The ones that quit serving their own egos.  That derive life from Jesus as their internal source, and begin listening and responding to His leading.

They start dreaming.  Creating.  Taking action.  Following.  Jesus.

And that’s dangerous, because sometimes He will ask them to do things that don’t benefit you. That destabilize your organization.  That may throw off your church growth game plan.  For instance…

They might invest $18,000 to bring an Ethiopian orphan into their home instead of donating to the capital campaign fund.

They may spend an evening helping a single mom clean out her garage instead of attending the church prayer meeting.

Sometimes they’ll even do things like move to other cities or countries because Jesus tells them their presence is required there. Crazy!

Yep, Jesus followers are terrible church builders.  I suggest you stay away from them.  They’re just too unstable. Too radical.  Too Kingdom minded.  Too dead to their own agendas.  Too busy building The Church to always help you focus on building your church.  They’re far too enamored with following Jesus.

I find myself somewhat reflective today.  CityCom is one (as in years old).  This “grand experiment,” this “adventure in Indy” we call City Community Church officially came to life one year ago today: March 1, 2009.  It’s still so surreal in such a beautiful sort of way.

But today there is no cake, no gifts, no party. Some birthday, huh?

Maybe we’re overly-sensitive, but we’re cautious of celebrating existence. Existence, just being here, really doesn’t mean much in God’s Kingdom.  In fact, God doesn’t really look too kindly on just existing.

Check out Jesus’ words from Luke 13 (emphasis mine):

6-7Then he told them a story: “A man had an apple tree planted in his front yard. He came to it expecting to find apples, but there weren’t any. He said to his gardener, ‘What’s going on here? For three years now I’ve come to this tree expecting apples and not one apple have I found. Chop it down! Why waste good ground with it any longer?

8-9“The gardener said, ‘Let’s give it another year. I’ll dig around it and fertilize, and maybe it will produce next year; if it doesn’t, then chop it down.‘”

To put CityCom’s birthday in Jesus’ terms: we don’t want to celebrate that the tree is still standing, we only want to celebrate if it’s actually producing good fruit.

So, no church growth statistics today (although a few of them might impress you). Just people. Beautiful people. That’s what I want to celebrate.

People taking “one step closer to becoming fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

People accepted for who they are, but challenged to become all God created them to be.

People embracing a journey of risk, adventure, and transformation.

People longing to know what it means to be The Church, not just go to church.

This is the fruit. The fruit we long for.  The fruit that we celebrate.  The fruit we desperately hope is pleasing to God.  And we’re seeing signs of it.  Beginnings.  “Buds.”

I’m so grateful to all of you who, in one way or another, have made City Community Church come to life.  May we bear much fruit. One year down, and the adventure is just beginning.

I Would Never Hire a Me

Erik Cooper —  February 10, 2010 — 4 Comments

In a culture where Starbucks serves me coffee, Apple serves up iPhones, and Walmart seems to fill in all possible remaining gaps, it’s easy (even for me…maybe especially for me) to view the church as another faceless institution that provides “spiritual consumables.” Want proof?

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We have an undeniable propensity to see the church as an entity instead of a people, an institution instead of a movement. So almost involuntarily over time, our focus turns toward acquiring and keeping resources that sustain the organization. Efforts which may or may not lead to the expansion of the Kingdom of God.

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