2Cor. 5.16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
1. A Kingdom View (16-17)
a. See www.LifewaResearch.com for this study (it’s free): What do un-churched think of the church. 72% agreed that the church is full of hypocrites. We could spiritualize this and say, “Well, we’re all hypocrites.” But we must confess that there is something wrong with how we are viewed in the world. 44% confessed that Christians get on my nerves. (Wow, only 44%!). Would 44% say that other religious affiliations get on their nerves. Probably not. The reason is due to our rally cries, we have made many other things our hills rather than Calvary.
b. We do not know anyone in a purely human way. We must see people with a different lens. How do we get there? If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. We are in Christ and are able to see people in a fresh way. In the HCSB the verse reads: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation.” There is a new person and a new community because of the reconciliation Jesus brings. The kingdom expression is not merely the kingdom of God within me, but there is a new order that has been instituted by the re-birth of individuals. The old nature and the old order has been swept aside by the New Creation and New Order (1Cor 7:31).
c. We can justify our sin with our “defense mechanisms.” We have realize that the Kingdom of God does not show up when your church plant shows up. It already showed up when Christ came. A church planter can be prone to this given the initiation.
i. We need to co-operate as much as we can on a local level. We don’t need to diminish our differences, but affirm
ii. We need to be careful not denigrate other churches as we talk about the
1. Biblically faithful
2. Culturally relevant
3. Counter-cultural communities
2. A Mission of Reconciliation (18-19)
a. Jesus’ mission is our mission
i. To serve: Luke 4:18-19
ii. To save: Luke 19:10
b. The Kingdom of Christ (Russell Moore) – book recommendation, which places emphasis on the already-not-yet tension we live in reaching our
c. Mark 12:29-34
d. The Kingdom of God and missio Dei theology were the theologies that weakened the main-line churches mission and evangelism. But they were poorly defined. The Kingdom cannot be separated from the Gospel. Three words: (1) Be; (2) Do; and (3) Tell the Gospel. “You cannot dwell if you will not tell.” Luke 24:46-49; Col. 1:20.
e. Bring Jesus and bring justice. Please don’t think you have brought justice and believe [that by so doing] you have brought Jesus. The would will praise you when you bring justice, but they will condemn you when you bring Jesus.
3. A Kingdom Mission (20)
a. Matt. 10:7-10 – our vision for our ministires must be to minister the
b. Matt. 6:33
c. Urban church planting is harder than church planting in general
i. You will have to multiply before you think you are ready.
ii. Your agenda must be submitted to the Kingdom
4. A Cross-Centered Mission for the Kingdom (21)
a. 2 Cor 5:21
b. Mark 1:14-15 – the method by which the Kingdom of God was spread
c. Acts 8:12 – the reaction of the people to the proclamation. People believed the message and their lives were changed.
d. The world doesn’t “good people standing around good people telling them how to be good people” (Mark Twain). We plant churches because Jesus became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God. He wasn’t just acquainted with sin, he became sin.
We are instructed to come to a consensus for one question we would like to ask Ed. (1) Regarding 2Cor 5, doesn’t contextualization require that we recognize people in a human way. That is, we are ministering to people who are white, black, poor, rich, etc. There is no way to not contextualize the Gospel. (2) How do we utilize the resources around us when the reason for our having planted a church is due to our seeing a void in churches and people reaching the community? Additionally, How do you not come across as a threat to other churches in the area? My table decides to ask question #1.
- How does a Kingdom focus practically work itself out in our church planting? In other words, “How should we plant if the church is the sign and instrument of the Kingdom of God?
We should work hard at developing good community. We don’t want to bring in a completely different culture. We want to contribute to the community that is already there. Citing Jer. 29 we want to unpack our bags, live among the people, build houses, and take wives so that the culture is sanctified. We want to have the perspective that we are here to serve the city, not merely to take from the city.
Q & A
1. How do you choose with whom you will cooperate?
We live in a landscape of great compromise. When you begin to plant churches in a city, there will be people/churches that will attach to you who are fuzzy in their theology. We need to have a robust statement of faith and doctrine at the outset.
Level 1: Christ crucified and essentials of the Gospel
Level 2: Convictional issues (paedo or credo-baptism)
Level 3: Preferential issues. The problem with fundamentalism is that every preference is an essential (music, dress, entertainment, etc).
We can work with people as long as they hold on to the essentials. If they www.peoplegroups.info (resource for finding others who are engaged with different
Schaeffer spoke of co-belligerence with those we disagree with on the essentials (i.e. human trafficking, poverty, etc).
2. Multiply before you’re ready? How and what criteria?
You will never think that you arte ready – similar to how we cannot wait until you are ready to have another child. What you celebrate you become. Thus, if you celebrate multi0plication, it will be part of your DNA.
3. What are the most common mistakes among urban church planters
Naivete: Part of the problem is that you go to a conference and you hear from the speakers. It is an unrealistic picture of what you will never experience. Most of those who will plant churches will have a long, arduous road. [Aside: Stetzer provocatively asks why so many church plants are planted in fast-growing, affluent areas.] We need to be careful not to think that
Superman syndrome: There are people who are broken. There is a reality that we are going into church-planting with baggage.
One-size fits all. Much of our method will be dictated by time, place, and person. There are no magic models. You ought not plant a Redeemer somewhere other than Manhattan. We ought not plant a Mars Hill somewhere other than Seattle.
4. How do you know where God is working?
Eph 3:10 helps us to think through this. We should go to the church and see what the church is doing. In other words, we need to take the time to talk to churches in the area and find out what God has been doing in their community, Humility should replace pride in thinking you are here to save the day.
Are there other places to look outside the church?
Yes, but not savingly. He is working in areas of justice. We need to be careful not to say that the church is so ugly and broken that he is not working through her (the issue that came to the fore during the mainline change in theology. They realized the missio Dei was larger than the mission of the church).
4. How would you counsel someone who does not have affirmation by his denomination?
If your denomination turns you down, you should ask “Why?” Don’t go plant a church because the church won’t let you plant a church. If you are allergic to structures, then you need to ask why you do not want to be contained by a structure. It may be a sin issue.
Too many church planters want money without strings attached. A denomination will have strings attached (theologically especially). If you are only going to plant a church if the resources are there, then you have built upon the wrong foundation.
5. How do you balance Spirit-led and demographically-led?
You go with Spirit-led. But you also need to be informed by the demographics. If you are planting because of a report, then you have built poorly. You need to plant in light of demographics and desire, but not because of it. Church plants fail because planters quit. You will quit when it gets difficult. First, you need to ask where the name of Christ has not been named and go. If you are adamant against going to a certain place, you need to place yourself under the lordship of Christ.
You need to remember that you don’t leave something, you go to something. You need to do the hard work of balancing in faithfulness and fruitfulness. You need an exit strategy for those who decide to leave the church plant that will not be embarrassing. We need to affirm the dynamic nature of God’s working throughout the world.
6. What’s the best piece of advice you received as a church planter?
“One day you’re going to leave this church and there is one group of people that will go with you – your wife and your family.”