For a church to be decentralized and not held up as a “pastoral church” (where the leaders “do” everything), there must be a radical discipleship that sees the necessity to live in/for/through community. There is no other way to get past Jesus telling his disciples to love one another and in so doing, others will see the love of Jesus enacted.
But this requires a regular rhythm of mutual submission, one to another. A submission of time, energy, talents, grace, compassion, and fellowship. The more we focus on intentional discipleship as a means to birth a church and see the kingdom of God enacted, the more I’m convinced that it will be a decentralized church that is not waiting for its leader to do something. It sees itself as a priesthood of all believers.
But it requires time spent with one another in prayer and fellowship. This is a hard thing in our culture, but a worthy truth to live into.
To have a gathering of a people who love Jesus and proclaim Him as Lord means that we have given our lives over to Father/Son/Spirit and to one another is service to the King. To see a church formed out of nothing requires a number of people to say YES to a vision of mutual submission of love, generosity, and hospitality.
A new church community is birthed because the Spirit of God is prompting a group of people to enact God’s mission in their sphere of life and influence. The Gospel needs to be proclaimed to a people who may not know the God of liberation, healing, and wholeness. This happens in and through a people called by God to be a witness and sent out into their neighbhorhoods, workplaces, areas of interest, and community.
The miracle of community is Jesus shaping and forming a people who are equipped and empowered by the Holy Spirit. It takes the triune God to make such a thing happen.
In the few months that I’ve started planting (the time I’m setting aside from this is focused on building relationships), I’ve tried to stay focused on listening to what some of the needs are in the community. One main theme I continue to hear is mentoring young male latinos (middle school, high school).
I met with an executive director, principal, program director (boys and girls club), and a few people of peace from the city. Each one shared a need to reach young male latinos.
One executive director asked me point blank: “where are the male latino leaders in Oceanside? Who is pushing back and speaking out for latinos to succeed?” I felt chills go down my spine.
I’m not sure where they are. If they’re not outspoken or visible, my hope is that we’re busy taking care of our families, going to school, and working hard.
I have been praying and asking God to help me figure out how this startup church plant can get involved, how I can serve and help be a mentor to young latinos.
I’ve been invited to participate in a leadership forum to discuss best practices and opportunities to mentor. I was not expecting this when I said yes to planting. But this part of listening to the pain and needs of a city.
Church planting is stretching me in good ways. Mostly, I feel like my commitment to Jesus is deepening.
Why am I planting?! I really love Oceanside! I think Jesus loves it way more than me! I want to see a church that mirrors this multi-ethnic and diverse area. My hope is that people who have never experienced the Gospel have this “AHA-MOMENT” where they realize there’s hope!
Lesson 1 that I’ve learned: this is going to take a while. Building relationships of trust and safety don’t happen overnight. But I’ve enjoyed this process.
Lesson 2: learn from others who have planted and are great leaders/pastors. I’m trying to reach out to all the people in my network for tips, support, and prayer.
Lesson 3: pray a lot!!! Christ is the chief cornerstone of His church. It’s the church of Christ, nothing else.
I’d love to hang with you in Oceanside! Let’s get some coffee at Banana Dang! 🙂 Please keep praying! 🙂
“It is impossible to stress too strongly that the beginning of mission is not an action of ours, but the presence of a new reality, the presence of the Spirit in power.”
– Lesslie Newbigin
Goheen, Michael W.. The Church and Its Vocation: Lesslie Newbigin’s Missionary Ecclesiology (p. 58). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
God’s mission in Oceanside is not my idea. God’s redemptive and reconciling efforts purpose in Oceanside is not my idea. God’s desire to heal, restore, and liberate is not my idea.
I mean, of course I long for these things. But they didn’t originate with me.
Rather, as we yield to and trust the Holy Spirit, we are joining the Triune God in His redemptive purposes.
Planting in Oceanside is about listening to the Spirit and joining in on what Jesus has ushered in through His death/burial/resurrection/ascension/pentecost (lots of slashes…I’m influenced by Brooklyn 99…if you don’t get it, watch the show!). 🙂
As a church, we are bearing witness to how the Spirit is giving new life. The Church is bearing witness to what where this story is headed: all of creation renewed and restored. The Spirit is at work, through the church, in enacting this new reality.
So we pray:
May we be filled by your Spirit to be a witness of this new reality: the Good News that you are healing, redeeming, and renewing creation for your purposes. May we bear witness to your love for the City of Oceanside.