I mentioned that I would be posting something about the 3-4 focused seasons during my church planting residency in my last post. At this point I plan to spend about 3 months at a time intentionally reading, practicing, and reflecting on various church planting (Christian) practices. I’d love to hear your thoughts about the ordering of these seasons, books that have been especially meaningful for your own formation, or practices that have been helpful to you. If you have other any comments or constructive feedback, I’m listening. So, here we go.
Season 1 – Prayer
I’ve recently been challenged by my friend, Charles, to dive deeper into a life that depends heavily on prayer. At a recent conference on church planting he was reminded that the most effective church planters are the ones who spend the most time praying, seeking God to facilitate the planting of churches. I hope that regardless of my next steps in ministry that I will learn to develop deeper rhythms of prayer and dependence on God in my life.
Season 2 – Justice
One of the projects I have been working on with Storyline Christian Community over the past few months pertains to justice. Justice to us means serving the poor, marginalized, vulnerable, etc. and doing what we can to make sure they don’t get taken advantage of. Currently, I have been setting up and participating in meetings with social service organizations around the city to see how we might be able to partner with them. Where many churches try to start their own ministries, Storyline hopes to tap into the vast opportunities to serve people that already exist in Dallas and most likely serve people much better than we could by ourselves. This has been a whole new world for me. I want to dive deeper to understand justice theologically and to consider ways that justice can be built into the DNA of a church.
Season 3 – Evangelism
If there is one thing that is church planting (and there is not) it is evangelism. This is the thing that got me interested in church planting and has consumed much of my thinking since practicing. How do we connect with unchurched people? How do play a part in their getting connected to God? How can we practice evangelism in a better, more holistic way than just getting people to the waters of baptism? How can we help people connect their salvation with a lifestyle of following Jesus? I am often convicted of my evangelistic incompetencies. But after a season focused on evangelism….I will still probably be convicted by my evangelistic incompetencies. However, I’ll hopefully be better for it and increasingly available for God to use to connect with lost people.
Season 4 – Children’s Spiritual Formation
Spiritual formation is a hot, trendy topic in certain church circles. Frankly, I buy into the necessity of being formed into the image of Christ, rather than just being informed of him. However, most of what I have heard talked about is spiritual formation in adults. A large component of church life is ministry to children and I think we need to give more attention to how children can be formed into the image of Christ, rather than entertained or distracted or even simply taught about Jesus. I’m not trying to take any cheap shots at children’s or youth ministers, but the system that has been handed to us for adults and children is largely teaching and classroom based. I hope this season might help bust open the traditional boundaries of children’s ministry and see our kids develop intentionally into committed followers of Jesus who are joining God is his mission.
By having broken this up into seasons does not mean that I won’t be continuously practicing all of them together. I am simply taking time to be intentional about each. I’m also open to other areas as well (none of this is quite yet in stone).