whew!

Yesterday was the first ever worship gathering of browns mill church. What a day! It was so exciting to see months of preparation and planning pay off with the birth of a brand new work of God in Coweta County. We had 47 adults and 28 children who attended for a total of 75 on our first Sunday. In addition, we were blessed with an absolutely astounding amount of giving without even passing the offering basket (our offering basket is on a back table). However, the most exciting part about the day was the fact that this church is returning to the original mission that Jesus gave His Church–to make disciples.

Tim did not sugar coat the truth in his message. It was a clear call to surrender from Luke 9:23. The Church in America has a love affair with “victory.” We teach on having victory in our finances, our marriage, our thought life, our parenting. The list could go on and on. But what Jesus values most is surrender. He wants all of us. The truth is that following Jesus is difficult. It is sometimes painful. It can be lonely. But there is nothing that compares to living a life of total surrender to the will and ways of Jesus. It is a life of abandonment, risk and adventure! Although it is not a “seeker-sensitive” message in the traditional sense, we believe that there is nothing that would speak to the heart of the seeker than this.

After we packed everything into the trailer and sloshed home through the rain, Suzanne and I crashed on the couch for an hour or so. It had been a long couple of weeks with nights filled with projects–building a projection screen out of PVC and a king-sized bed sheet, ironing a dozen bed sheets for the preschool pipe & drape walls, and many other miscellaneous tasks. It was both exhausting and exhilarating at the same time!

bubbling up

Today, I had the privilege of attending the second day of the churchplanter.com conference held at Mountain Lake Church in Cumming, GA. A big shout out of thanks to fellow Coweta County church planter Scott McInnis at Wellspring Church in Senoia, GA, for hooking Tim and I up with a spare ticket to the conference and a hotel room! What a treat!

Here is my big take away from the conference: affirmation. For the past 18+ months, God has been stirring some things in my heart. If you’ve read my blog, you know what I’m talking about (if you haven’t read my blog, feel free to peruse the archives). These things revolve around my discontent with the lack of discipleship occurring in the Church in the West and the consumeristic mentality of the Church. As a “worship pastor” for the past nearly 14 years, I awoke to the realization that I was helping produce a product that was begin consumed, but, with the absence of discipleship, had little value beyond entertainment.

Faced with this new reality, I began a desperate search for what I would spend the balance of my ministry career doing. I asked myself, “Should I become an adult ministry guy? an executive pastor? what?” I new I could no longer continue in what I was doing. God had put a “holy discontent” in my heart and I could no longer continue on the same path. Fast forward a few months and the new path for me was to help start a brand new church that attempted to address the issues that God had begun stirring in my heart. No church is perfect because it is made up of human beings. While we are excited and optimistic about the future of browns mill church, we know that we don’t have all the answers and that we will almost certainly screw some things up royally!

As we began to gather resources–books, primarily–about the church and church planting, we quickly began to find that there were certain topics and authors who had the same concerns about the Church as we had and those who were more in the “business as usual” camp. We found that the books, resources and authors that most closely matched the deep promptings in our hearts came from the missional/ incarnational model of church and church planting. Authors such as Hugh Halter, Matt Smay, Alan Hirsch, and Ed Stetzer, to name a few. We found that, for us, the attractional church model seemed to represent more of the “business as usual” approach to church and church planting that God had begun to stir the “holy discontent” in our hearts about. I’m not going to name authors of this approach because they are good men and women whom God is using. It just wasn’t the right model for us.

The amazing thing about days like today–and I’ve had many–is that God just keeps affirming what He has spoken into my heart. At the conference today (which still leans a little bit more to the attractional model of church planting), there were a number of times where the missional/incarnational approach surfaced. Almost every plenary session (with one notable exception) decried the state of the church today and that a return to the original mission of the church (making disciples) was desperately needed. A couple of breakout sessions I attended were almost entirely regarding the missional/incarnational approach.

The coolest part of the day was talking with several folks who recounted almost the exact circumstances I am currently in–that God had spoken a “holy discontent” into their hearts about the status of the Church in America and were stepping out to plant a church that returned to the Church’s missional roots. Even our purpose statement “To live like Jesus and to lead others to do the same” surfaced in one form or another. Now, Tim and I aren’t smart enough to come up with this stuff (Suzanne and Nicole will tell you that!). The only answer is that it has to be God! It is so cool to see that He is speaking directly into the hearts of leaders and it has began to bubble up everywhere we turn. As we read books and interact with other people, we are not finding “good ideas.” We are finding affirmation that what God has spoken into our hearts, He is currently speaking into the hearts of many, many people. God is up to something really, really big! It is just beginning to bubble up to the surface, but I believe that in these last days, He is going to pour out His Spirit upon all men and there is going to be revival in the land!