Church: All bass-ackwards?

February 13, 2009

cart before horseI ran across this statement somewhere in my Twitter wanderings. I don’t know who to credit, but I have to pass it on:

Churches don’t make disciples. Disciples make churches.

This hit me. I have often toyed with the idea of planting a church, and Kay has always insisted that this was a bad idea. My attempt at starting a Jesus Dojo came off all wrong, because I tried to gather people and say, “We’re going on this mission.” It was awkward because I was setting a direction before anybody knew who the other people were or what was going on.

I think I finally get it. Kay liked this quote. We love making disciples! But we hate discipleship programs.

Let’s go back and re-read the Master’s last instructions, shall we? And I have to see if I still have my old copy of The Master Plan of Evangelism.

Jon Reid

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As an American missionary kid who grew up in Japan, I'm a child of two cultures, while not fully belonging to either. This gives me a sightly different view of the world.

4 responses to Church: All bass-ackwards?

  1. Hear hear!!!!
    We’ve been in Salem over 18 months now. We became an “official” AVC plant on 12/01/2008.
    Thursday night the 12th of Feb we had our first real meeting with one other couple — a couple who are looking to go deeper with God and explore what it looks like to have a relationship with him.
    We are not yet a 501(c)(3). We have no letterhead, or bylaws.
    Are we a church? Are we making disciples? Are we “just” having dinner with someone?
    I don’t know — but God was with us — and we’re having dinner again on the 26th!

  2. Keith, how did you manage to convince AVC to release you without the classic launch plan? Did you do the 5-year plan and all that? Did you bribe them?

  3. 😉 No bribes were involved — but it has been a lengthy process.
    Dave Jacobs is our church-planting coach (and he says hi and thinks it is a riot I knew you from worship/new-wine/uiuc days long before he met you!).
    We first began the process in May 2007 and worked closely with the regional CPC as well as the state CPC, and Dave has been a huge help. We did do a 2-year plan, and also did the assessment and application and all other “normal” things a “normal” vineyard church plant is required to submit.
    Our release paperwork came with a separate “contract” (for lack of a better term — it was something they asked us to sign) since we are such a different model. But the 3 bullet points on that contract were all no-brainers, so it was all good.
    We’re sort of an R&D lab, which I like.
    One of the original visions we had went something like this:
    You know how in the 1960s/1970s, mainstream Protestant denominationalism looked at Calvary Chapel and Vineyard and said “Wait, you want hippies and guitars and drums and you want to call that ‘church’? No way! You’re not part of us!”
    …but then 20 years later mainstream Protestant denominationalism looks at Vineyard and says “Yeah, they’re part of us…”
    …so what would it look like for us to do something so radical and different in flavor that VINEYARD would look at us and say “What? You want to do WHAT, and call that church — and call that VINEYARD?…(and then instead of saying no, they said) OK! Cool! We’ll walk along with you there!”
    …and that is exactly what happened.
    It took a lot of great conversation back and forth with various Vineyard Leadership Powers-that-Be (especially since “house church” has developed something of a bad taste in the mouth of the “institutional church” being bashed by so much of it) but we’re Vineyard through and through…yet we’re wanting to do something completely different in form and style (which is why we kept the agrarian symbology, but are using the name “The Orchard”)…so here we are!

  4. That is funny about Dave Jacobs! Glad you have a great coach. Kay & I did an initial assessment with him but never went past that.
    BTW the Vineyard we first joined in San Jose did not hold Sunday meetings for several years. Once they had enough groups, they started gathering everyone one Sunday evening a month. An astonishing 50% of their people were converts.
    By the time we showed up, they had established a weekly Sunday morning gathering. The emphasis was still on home groups, but it started a gradual dilution. Conversions decreased. After we parted ways, they left the Vineyard movement.
    All that to say: It can be done.