A church can impact the culture around it in many different ways. The most commonly thought of and the way most often used to measure a church "success" is by counting the number of people who call that church "home." In fact, that was about the only way I knew how to measure a church's fruitfulness coming out of seminary.
That way of making an impact, however has not been TFC's story. Our church has taken a different path, one that's way out of the box - too far out of the box for most seasoned church-goers - but is helping break paradigms for measuring "success."
I was trained with the idea of bringing people to church in order to share the love of Jesus with them but TFC is working to bring church to people in order to share that life-changing love. Not only are we sharing Jesus' love with people who will never darken the door of a church building (or a school building in our case) but we're helping other church leaders gain a fresh perspective on the work of helping spread the reality of Jesus' Kingdom.
A good friend and colleague here in the KC area used to be on staff at one of the largest churches in our denomination. Just recently, he had a conversation with his former boss who asked him, "have you heard about this church in your area that does this ministry called Love Wins?" My friend responded, "as a matter of fact, I have heard of that church." TFC was helping change that pastor's paradigm.
A few weeks ago, a letter I wrote explaining our relationship with the clubs in our county was read by a senator on the floor of the State Senate in Topeka. The senator called me up later to say, "thanks for your ministry." So the entire legislative body of Kansas is having their church-paradigm stretched.
Pastor Andy will be at his home church in Alabama in a couple weeks to share about his work with Love Wins. The District Superintendent of Alabama is planning on being there because he's wanting to challenge the entire state to follow TFC's example in taking the love of Jesus outside the walls of the church.
Last week, Pastor Andy was going through his annual District re-licensure meeting - talking with older and ordained pastors from KC. He told me, "when they realized I was from TFC, they basically gave me a standing ovation." But when Andy began to share how he's expanded Love Wins he said their jaws almost hit the floor in amazement.
A few months ago, my DS Jeren Rowell, was having a conversation with another church leader who was asking whether any Church of the Nazarene in the US would have the guts to start a specific ministry. Jeren then told them that a church on his District (yes, it's us) was doing exactly that. I guess someone in North America has to be the first.
Small in numbers, big in scope of our impact. And I'm starting to think our small size may be on purpose. I'm not sure we'd be able to do church the way we do if we were larger, there would likely be too high of expectations that we fit into a more mainstream mold.
Nope, that's just not us. And I think it makes God smile.