Friday, June 20, 2008

Lunch with our denomination's church planting coordinator

Yesterday, I had the privilege of having lunch with Jim Dorsey, the head of church planting for the Church of the Nazarene. Although the CON doesn't actually call it "church planting," they call it Newstart. I've heard the theological/missional reasons for that name, but I think it's just so we can be distinct from all the church planting baptists.
We had a great conversation! As we were leaving, Jim told me that I charged his batteries. I felt the same way. Jim was really interested in our Love Wins ministry but we did talk about a lot of other stuff, too. Although I can't remember our entire conversation, here are some of the highlights.
  • Jim knows of no other church in our denomination doing a ministry like Love Wins.
  • He challenged us to continue to keep this ministry "grace-filled" and "no strings attached." If anyone in the club ever starts to think we have an agenda, the relationships will be shot.
  • I shared with him my journey of having my pride broken through this process of starting a church. I explained how last spring (07) my approach began to change from "bringing people in" to "sending people out." Love Wins was born out of that change in focus. Jim told me that's what it's all about, not focusing on growth but focusing on service. He told me something great I want to hold onto, "People can sniff out your motives. Are you doing a ministry for the sake of growth or for the sake of service."
  • I also got to share how over the past 10 months, we have been steadily growing and reaching one unchurched family after another. Jim believes our growth is the natural outflow of this change in perspecitive. When we began shifting our focus from growing our local congregation (I'm speaking mostly of myself) to equipping our congregation to serve the community (our 1st and 2nd birthday parties being a great example) God began to entrust new families to our church.
  • Jim is interested in having GROW magazine do an article on our TFC. Now here's the great and ironic twist. In the beginning of our church, I'd hoped GROW would do an article on us. But my assumption was that the article would be focused on our church's explosive growth facilitated through my powerful leadership. Nope, Jim wants to do an article on how God has used this process of starting a church to break my pride and change my perspective on church. And to illustrate how when our focus changed from growth to service, God started sending us new families. Just one more step in God teaching me that it's not about me!
  • And as a wonderful side note, Jim told me the leadership of our denomination is becoming more and more intentional about distancing themselves from the religious right. We talked specifically about James Dobson and Focus on the Family. Now, don't read too much into what I'm saying here. Focus on the Family does a lot of good for the health and spiritual development of familes, but they (in my opinion) get way off track when joining with the rest of the religous right movement's focus on legislating morality. Our denomination is intentionally distancing themselves from any Christian organization that is working to bring moral/spiritual change through politics. Leadership within Focus on the Family is not happy with the CON. But I feel that if we're making the political elements of Focus on the Family mad, then we're probably following the way of Jesus. Of course, all of this came within the context of our philosophy for Love Wins.
  • The CON needs to continue to model themselves after our founder, Phineas F. Bresee. Bresee was (to borrow a term from Vince Antonucci) a "Grace Wholesaler."

No comments: