Do You Really Love People?

There is no way that Christians can be salt and light apart from love. We are to obey the command to love God first and allow that same unconditional love to flow from our lives onto others. We have to love people in order for them to believe in the God we say we believe in. It is very crucial today.

We are not the Holy Spirit. We cannot be the Holy Spirt. We are to not supposed to pretend we are the Holy Spirit. Our commitment to Christ is one out of self-sacrifice allowing the Holy Spirit to be Himself through us. We aren’t the ones to fix it, He is the One to fix it!

Here is an article posted today by Jim Denison. Please read all the way through before you become the Holy Spirit!

Teacher fired for not using transgender student’s preferred pronoun

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Peter Vlaming teaches French at West Point High School in West Point, Virginia. He was fired by the school board last Thursday for refusing to use a transgender student’s preferred pronoun. (The student was born as a biological female but wishes to use the pronouns “he” and “him.”)

The school’s administration claims that Vlaming was told multiple times to refer to the student using male pronouns. “By failing to follow the directive, he was therefore discriminating and creating a hostile environment,” the superintendent told the board.

The next day, students at the school coordinated a walkout in support of Vlaming. Several held signs that read “Men are men and women are women and that is a fact!” and “You can’t impose delusion on us.”

Vlaming told the school board that his Christian faith was the reason for his refusal. “We are here today because a specific worldview is being imposed on me,” he said. “Even higher than my family ranks my faith.” Asked whether the debate was worth losing his job over, he told reporters, “There are some hills that are worth dying on.”

God “made them male and female”

My purpose today is not to focus on the transgender issue itself. (For an in-depth discussion of this subject, please see my chapter on the transgender debate in my book, 7 Crucial Questions.) Nor do I want to limit our discussion to the West Point controversy.

Rather, I want to ask: Are there “hills that are worth dying on” for Christians today?

Imagine yourself in Peter Vlaming’s position. Your Christian worldview affirms the biblical statement that God creates humans as “male and female” (Genesis 1:27). You agree with Jesus: “He who created them from the beginning made them male and female” (Matthew 19:4).

What should you do?

This is not an abstract question. A recent survey found that nearly 3 percent of ninth- and eleventh-grade students say they are transgender or gender nonconforming, meaning they don’t always identify as the sex they were assigned at birth. Of America’s 15.1 million high school students, 3 percent equates to 453,000 transgender students.

In addition, according to one adoption website, there are 594,000 same-sex couple households in the US; 115,000 of them have children. As these children become students, Christian teachers who affirm biblical marriage may be faced with a dilemma similar to the one confronting Peter Vlaming.

These questions pertain to more than high school teachers. Parents who affirm biblical morality must address these issues with their children. Pastors face similar issues with their congregations. So do those who work alongside transgender or LGBTQ persons.

Let’s survey our options.

One wrong approach: Change your theology to match the culture.

As our society embraces “gender fluidity,” same-sex marriage, or other unbiblical morality, we could adapt our beliefs accordingly. This might enable us to appear relevant to our post-Christian world.

Of course, interpreting the Bible through the lens of our fallen culture is a never-ending process of adjusting God’s unchanging word to our changing world. If the Bible is wrong on “gender fluidity,” is it also wrong on same-gender sexual relations? Polygamy? Premarital sex? Pornography? Abortion? Euthanasia?

Scripture is clear: “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it” (Deuteronomy 12:32). Unpopular truth is still truth. A doctor who tells her unwilling patient that he needs medical help is exercising courageous compassion.

A second wrong approach: Condemn those with whom you disagree.

We could see the school board members as attacking our faith. It is more likely, however, that they are acting out of their worldview. They apparently believe that gender is fluid and the gender identity of this student should therefore be affirmed. And they are convinced that to believe otherwise is bigoted and discriminatory.

For every enemy of our faith who uses moral issues to attack us, there are many who think we are simply wrong and intolerant. The root of their problem is spiritual: “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Like Paul, we are sent “to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light” (Acts 26:18). We are called not to reject those with whom we disagree but to minister to them.

The biblical mandate: Obey your highest authority.

Peter taught us, “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution” (1 Peter 2:13). Yet when he was ordered by the authorities to cease preaching the gospel, he and the apostles responded: “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

We should do all we can to obey and respect those in authority over us: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21). We should look for ways to resolve conflict, remembering Jesus’ beatitude: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).

But if we are forced to choose between Caesar and God, we must choose God.

(MY WORDS HERE: One of the mandates so easily forgotten is to LOVE PEOPLE. When we love people, we chose God!)

Chinese pastors and believers who will not submit to the control of the government are being imprisoned and their churches closed. According to Open Doors, 215 million Christians experience high levels of persecution for their faith today.

American churches are not being closed by our government; American Christians are not being imprisoned or martyred for following Jesus. But we are increasingly being forced to choose between what is popular and what is biblical.

For a follower of Jesus, this is no choice at all.

The next time you must pay a price to obey God’s word, consider the cost of your salvation. And remember: The first “hill to die on” was called Calvary.

Stay in the Light, 1 John 1:7,

Pastor Larry

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Be The Church Or Make Way For Something Else

Great read for those of us in leadership positions of churches. Enjoy!
Be The Church Or Make Way For Something Else

Christ is not found in our institutions, he is found in the church. In people who love Jesus, love each other and gather together regularly.

Why does the church exist?

It’s not to get people together for meetings. Or to keep our theology pure. Or to defend our traditions. Or to look cool and appealing to the unchurched.

But it’s easy to fall into one or more of those traps if we’re not constantly reminding ourselves what we actually do exist for.

Why The Church Is Supposed To Exist

As defined clearly by Jesus himself in both the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, the church exists to love God and share his love with others.

We’re not about meetings, denominations or creeds – although all of those have had and will continue to have a place. We’re about relationships.

It is our calling and our mandate to introduce people to Jesus, connect those people with each other, then prepare them to help others meet Jesus, too.

Being The Church

Through the command to make disciples, Jesus created a self-perpetuating system to keep the church alive, vibrant and adaptable.

Through the command to make disciples, Jesus created a self-perpetuating system to keep the church alive, vibrant and adaptable.

For 2,000 years and counting the church Jesus started has been the most relentlessly growing, most adaptable, most life-changing, most liberating organism in the history of the world.

Despite all the cries of alarm and concern, the church is not in trouble. It’s not dying. Its best days are not behind us.

The church is alive and well, with far greater days ahead than any we’ve seen come and go so far.

But the formats we’re currently using to accomplish those ends? Those are in trouble. Big trouble.

What We’re Doing Instead Of Being The Church

The way we format the church experience, the expectations we have of people when they gather as the church, the top-down hierarchical structures that are so commonplace we barely see them any more – those are going, going and soon will be gone.

And that’s okay.

Because we’re not supposed to be in the business of preserving those formats. And, in fact, to the degree that we try to preserve them we will continue to sap precious resources away from doing what we should be doing – helping people find, love and serve Jesus.

Being the church.

Why Does The Church Exist?

We need to rediscover and re-commit ourselves to being the church Jesus called us to be. Or, while we’re off chasing other ideas, someone else will offer a knock-off version that feels better than what we’re currently doing.

Actually, that’s already happening. It’s been happening for 2,000 years.

There’s always some version of “almost church” that’s ready to give people an “almost” version of Jesus.

There’s always some version of “almost church” that’s ready to give people an “almost” version of Jesus, wrapped up in a greater sense of community than what many churches have.

The church doesn’t own a monopoly on friendship, mission or caring. We have a monopoly on only one thing. Jesus.

Christ Is In His Church

Christ is not found in our institutions, he is found in the church. In people who love Jesus, love each other and gather together regularly. That is de facto the only place to find, know and grow in Christ.

  • Not in a building
  • Not in a creed
  • Not in a specific format
  • And not alone

People loving Jesus and loving each other is how Jesus said the world would be won to him.

That’s the church.

That’s the Jesus way.

That’s who we need to be.

Stay In The Light, 1 John 1:7,

Pastor Larry

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THE GOSPEL OF JUSTIFICATION

The sermon for Sunday, Oct 21, was not recorded, so I am sharing my sermon notes for everyone who missed seeing the sermon. Enjoy!

The Justified Gospel

Sunday, October 21, 2018

City Church Del Rio 

Galatians Sermon Series—No Other Gospel, The Justified Gospel, 3:23-29

Introduction—Justification. A big Biblical word found throughout the Bible. A complicated word. A essential word. Today, we are going to step into the them of the Justified Gospel. The good news of Jesus and His awestruck love for all people on His planet. 

Now, as most of you know I am not a big wordsmith. I like simplicity. I try and connect with the masses. So, if you can please lean in today and pay close attention because I want to assure that if you can begin this process of living in a justified lifestyle, where you don’t hold grudges, you don’t assume the worst, and you don’t allow other people’s sin to knock you off your path. 

All the doctrines of the Bible are important, but none is more vital to the peace and rest of a child of God, than the Biblical truth of Justification. The follower of Christ does not get to the peak of Christian joy, until we appreciate and appropriate this grand aspect of grace. 

Forgiveness is amazing; pardon is wonderful; cleansing is powerful; but Justification is the greatest experience in my theological opinion. In Paul’s day, and during the reformation period of the 1500’s-1600’s, and even in our day, it would be difficult to find a more central truth to our historic Christian faith than the doctrine of justification. 

So, let’s get started. 

Stand & Read—Galatians 3:23-29

Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.

26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Pray

I want to remind you that Paul is still answering the question the he asked in verse 2

Galatians 3:2I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard?

  1. Justified by “The Faith”—verses 23-25
    1. Verse 23Before the coming of the “the faith”
      1. Notice with me, that Paul distinctly uses a participle for you English gurus. He doest just say faith, he says the faith. 
      2. You may have a translation that doesn’t use a participle until the second part of the verse. It may say this faith or the coming faith.
      3. It is the same meaning behind the language Paul purposely id using here. He is really talking about the time before our Christian Faith came to be.
      4. Before the coming of the faith. What about it.
    2. Verse 23We were held in custody under the law
      1. We were prisoners under the law. Why? Wasn’t the law given to Moses by God to give to the people? Yes, but I remind you; the law was given to in order for people to know what sins were so we could know how to live. The law never intended to save people, but point people to their need for God.
      2. Paul says, while we wait for a Savior, we are under the law, as if we are in a prison cell. When you think of a prison cell, you think of an awful place, with no freedom.
      3. But what you don’t realize, in jail, you are protected from yourself. You can no longer be free to create havoc in society. 
      4. So Paul compares our time under the law like being in jail. Protected, out of trouble, until you could be trusted to go free. Not actually a bad thing.
      5. The 10 commandments are a good thing, keeping us in line with the requirements given by God so that we could ask for forgiveness when we sinned against Him. 
      6. If you are here today, and you have never trusted Jesus as your own personal Savior, then you are still in custody of the law. You have rules and regulations to follow in order for you to have a relationship with God. 
      7. But Paul reminds us that we no longer have to live like that.
    3. Verse 23Until the Faith was to come and be revealed. 
      1. The faith is Jesus the Christ. Once He came to offer freedom from the law. 
      2. Without Jesus in your heart and life, you are being held in custody. 
      3. Jesus has come and Jesus has reveled Himself to the world. 
      4. Jesus is the most loved, hated, and controversial person to ever walk the planet. 
    4. Verse 24So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith.
    5. Here is the million dollar word—Justified. We are under the law no longer because Jesus has justified us if we have faith in Him.
    6. If you are here are you claim you have faith, yet your actions speak otherwise, how does one balance those 2 things?
    7. Listen to me this morning. You will always let others down. You will always be in a sinful temporary body while you are here. So at times, we won’t appear to be related to Jesus. We do things that are against God. We are still sinners saved by grace.
    8. The great thing about justification is in how it relates to our relationship with Christ. This is so important for us to know.
    9. The word justified means “pronounced or treated as righteous.” For a Christian, justification is the act of God not only forgiving the believer’s sins but imputing to him the righteousness of Christ. The Bible states in several places that justification only comes through faith. Justification is not earned through our own works; rather, we are covered by the righteousness of Jesus Christ. The Christian, being declared righteous, is thus freed from the guilt of sin. Justification is a completed work of God, and it is instantaneous.
    10. Once a person is justified, there is nothing else he or she needs in order to gain entrance into heaven. Since justification comes by faith in Christ, based on His work on our behalf, our own works are disqualified as a means of salvation. There exist vast religious systems with complex theologies that teach the false doctrine of justification by works. But they are teaching “a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all”.
    11. Aren’t you thankful for justification today? Are you thankful?
    12. All you need is faith in Jesus to be justified by God.
    13. Verse 25—Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
    14. Paul reiterates verse 23-24.
    15. You too can live under the doctrine of justification. 

 

Illustration—Here is how the system works in religion: 

You love God by following the law. Then, when you break the law, you go to jail for sinners. You wait there until you have asked for forgiveness so that you can have your freedom for a short time again. You break the law again, and you become a prisoner over and over again and again, in and out of jail. Then one day you realize that you can no longer continue to do this cycle of in and out of jail, so you decide it is easier to stay in jail, apart from God, since you seem to never please Him.

Church is no longer important, praying no longer exists, and the Bible is out of the question because no one can measure up to that. 

Then, one day a crisis of belief come into your universe, and you find yourself searching for answers, only you tried the God thing already, so you look to human wisdom, and then you try other options. Trying harder. Talking to people. Researching the internet. Working more. Investing in support groups. You see where I am going.

The Faith has come to set everyone free, including you, from the curse of this wheel of circling that never ends. It is time to let Jesus be in control. Not the religious Jesus you were taught about in your past, but the real Jesus. The real justified Gospel. 

Application—How about you? Have you been justified? Are still trying to set yourself free with acts of good will? Are you still in custody of the law? Jesus is the only freedom that can change your destiny. Give Him your life today!

  1. Justified by “The Promise”—verses 26-29

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

    1. Verse 26—Those famous words repeated over and over throughout Paul’s writings—IN CHRIST. 
    2. When a repeat theme is continuous in the Bible, it is so we won’t try and figure out some other Gospel. The true gospel is “in Christ.” In a relationship with Jesus.
    3. When we come to faith “in Christ” we now become a child of God through our faith “in Him.” 
    4. Not everyone in the world is a child of God, although many have sold us this false doctrine. If that were the case, then there would have been no need for Jesus to die for our sins. We would not need to be “in Christ”
    5. Verse 27—A picture of how you are to live “in Christ.” Baptism.
    6. When a person is baptized in Christ, they identify a transformation that has taken place on the inside. 
    7. Paul say when we are baptized we are clothed with Christ. We put on our new clothing. We identify with Jesus. 
    8. Baptism is not salvation but a symbol of it. Salvation is what happens when a person opens up their heart and asks Jesus to be the Lord of their life. Baptism is an act of humble obedience of identifying with Jesus. We put on our new wardrobe. 
    9. To be clothed with Christ means to be like Christ.
    10. Verse 28—This verse is one that unifies all believers in Christ. 
    11. We will still be Anglo, Hispanic, Black, Asian, other differences that make us Unique, but they are no longer significant in our new identity in Christ. 
    12. The Christian is now brother and sister with any and all who also claim Jesus as their Lord. You now assimilate based on the Jesus identity, and not so much as a Mexican, Black, or White person. 
    13. Look at City Church Del Rio. The make up we have here is representative of this verse. We identify with each other as followers of Christ, not follows of what our culture tells us. 
    14. So, if Paul were writing to the American church today, which is but the way still very segregated by ethnicity, he would say: there is no longer Hispanic, Black, White, or Asian, your now brothers and sisters in Christ first!
    15. We must not get caught up in that non-sense. We will exalt the name of Jesus here, in order to win all, no matter ethnic background, color of skin, social-social-economical status, etc., etc. Jesus wins out at City Church.
    16. Men will not be elevated above women, and women will not be elevated above men. Jesus will be elevated above all. 
    17. Oneness in Christ is the call of us that want to see the Justified Gospel proclaimed.
    18. Verse 29—Paul reminds us once again. We are the people of promise. We are in the lineage of Abraham. We are heirs to the throne of Jesus.

Illustration—1 Corinthians 12:12-20

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

We are on body in Christ, made to unite in a higher calling in order to fulfill God’s purpose through His church.

Application—Do you have the assurance that you are part of the promise? Today is the day that God has called you into His Kingdom inheritance. All you need is faith to believe it.

Stay In The Light, 1 John 1:7,

Pastor Larry

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“You know who pays the bills at the church.”

As I catching up on emails this morning, Thom Rainer had this to say this morning. Please, as a church member that gives financially to your church, be very cautious about saying something like this statement. Please, don’t say it because it truly is a way of saying this is my church, and not so much God’s church.

“You know who pays the bills at the church.”

The statement is one of the most insidious, destructive, and ungodly statements a member can make. It says much about the attitude of the member and the group he or she represents. There is nothing good that can come from this statement. Just look at some of the implications of this attitude:

  1. It is an attitude of selfishness. The giver with this attitude looks at his or her gifts to the church with a closed fist instead of an open hand. Money is given conditionally, not sacrificially or unconditionally: “It’s my money, not God’s money.”
  2. It is an attitude of entitlement. Gifts to the church are more like country club dues. “Since I pay my money, I get my perks and benefits. I get things my way. And if I don’t get things my way, you just watch me stop paying my dues.”
  3. It is an attitude of divisiveness. Those who express such statements are already creating schisms in the church. The big givers are in one group, and the lesser givers are in another. It’s us versus them. “Those other people don’t deserve an opinion, because we pay more than they do.”
  4. It is an attitude of bullying. The statement is always a threat. It is usually directed at the pastor or some other leader in the church. “You do things my way or just watch what I’ll do to you.” It’s intimidation and bullying at its worst.
  5. It is an attitude of superiority. The person who makes this statement is the Pharisee who lets the world know how “godly” he or she is. “Look at how much I give. I must be blessed by God. And this church is blessed by me. You wouldn’t want me to withhold my blessings, would you?”
  6. It is an attitude of ungodliness. The Enemy loves to hear such statements. When he hears church members say they pay the bills, he knows they are focused on themselves and not Christ. He knows they are divisive instead of instruments of unity. The Enemy knows he’s winning when these contemptible words flow from the mouths of church members.

Yes, I know churches can expend funds in imperfect ways. Yes, I know all churches need systems of accountability and checks and balances with their finances. Yes, I know some churches need greater transparency with their budgets and spending.

But there is absolutely no excuse for making threats with the money you and others have given to the church. Such an attitude gives no glory to God.

It is one of the most destructive statements a church member can make. It is spoken too often in too many churches. And, if the attitude is allowed to continue, it becomes a cancer that will kill and destroy.

Stay in the Light, 1 John 1:7

Pastor Larry

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No Other Gospel

Well, well, when it comes to Jesus as the only way, the world comes unglued. Everyone protests and says there couldn’t be just one way to God. What about those devout ________ over there? How can they be wrong, if they truly believe it? Facts are facts. The real fact of the matter is the resurrection of Jesus. No one can prove otherwise, though many have tried. No other religion, sect, cult, people group, or anything has a risen Savior. Therefore, we rest in the fact that there is No Other Gospel.

Beginning September the 9th, City Church Del Rio will embark on a 14 week journey through the book of Galatians. Here is the line-up. Looking for a way to connect to City Church Del Rio? Check us out online at www.citychurchdelrio.com or like our page on FaceBook.

September 9, 2018—The True Gospel, 1:1-10

September 16, 2018—The Supernatural Gospel, 1:11-24

September 23, 2018—The Gospel For All, 2:1-10

September 30, 2018—The No Fear Gospel, 2:11-21 (Lord’s Supper)

October 7, 2018—The Faith Gospel, 3:1-14

October 14, 2018—The Promised Gospel, 3:15-22

October 21, 2018—The Justified Gospel, 3:23-29

October 28, 2018—The Prosperous Gospel, 4:1-7

November 4, 2018—The Unveiled Gospel, 4:8-20

November 11, 2018—The New Covenant Gospel, 4:21-31

November 18, 2018—The Gospel of Freedom (Thanksgiving), 5:1-12

November 25, 2018—The Spirit-Led Gospel, 5:13-26

December 2, 2018—The Restoration Gospel, 6:1-10

December 9, 2018—The Grace Gospel, 6:11-18

Stay in the Light, 1 John 1:7,

Pastor Larry

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9 Fruits of the Spirit-Cultivating the Character of Christ.

The Character of Christ

Last Week, we began a new sermon series out of text Galatians 5:22-23:But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Imagine if you will, looking for a model of what Jesus looks like in a person’s life. How does one determine that vision? These virtues are the outcome, and as the Scripture teaches, the fruits of what a spirit-filled life takes on. This is called application. The beautiful thing about these virtues are they can’t be produced apart from walking with Jesus. We can’t role-play out these virtues. The spirit of God behind these actions must be genuine or we will be found out for who we really are.

Love is the crucial fruit behind all of the rest. Without love, our patience will wear thin, our joy won’t really be solid, and our faithfulness will be shallow. In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Love of God will always be the foundation of all others virtues in our life.

Will you begin to truly deepen your study of these 9 fruits? Begin with making sure first and foremost you love Jesus with all your heart. That is really hard especially when you really love your spouse, children, friends, etc. You can do that but not until God is first, then that Agape love flows out to those that are closest to us. They can see if your love is for real! Love God today!

Stay in the Light, 1 John 1:7,

Pastor Larry

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Why Has It Become Harder To Stock the Church Planter Pipeline?

Good Read for all you church planters out there:
It’s become more difficult to recruit church planters today compared to the recent past |
Why Has It Become Harder To Stock the Church Planter Pipeline?

Image: Pexels

Today in ministry leadership, many have adopted this phrase used in business and organizational psychology: pipeline. The concept is simple.

A pipeline is an intentional process of discovering, developing, and deploying leaders within an organization or a movement.

The imagery is helpful because it invokes the idea of guiding people through a process (or pipeline) composed of different stages where the person is meant to experience growth and development. It’s systematic, but it doesn’t have to be mechanical or linear.

For many church planting networks, stocking the church planter pipeline has become increasingly more difficult in these last few years than it has been over the last few decades. Recently, a leader of one of the largest church planting networks addressed our Missiologists Council regarding the need to increase North America’s church planting capacity. He says, “We’re shaking every bush and turning over every rock to find the next church planter.”

Let me offer three observations of why I believe it’s become more difficult to recruit church planters today compared to the recent past.

1. The Wave of Gen-X “Free Agents” Is Almost Over

Church planting networks are seeing more and more that the days of “free-agent” church planters–someone who already has ministry experience and maturity–are almost behind us. The Baby Boomers who led church planting organizations did a fantastic job motivating Gen-X youth pastors and seminary grads into church planting.

Gen-X almost seemed designed for North American church planting because they were raised in the boom of the American evangelical youth culture.

They fueled the contemporary Christian music movement. They filled stadiums for Acquire the Fire gatherings. They benefited from the organizational leadership of Baby Boomer mentors, but were also edgy enough (not a reference to their goatees) to redefine the conversation from just worship gatherings to missional engagement.

You’ll find many of these former youth pastors-turned-church-planters now leading their own networks and movements. As much as they bucked up against the leadership of Baby Boomers, they benefited just as much.

But the youngest of Gen-X is now almost forty years old. That doesn’t mean you can’t still recruit a Gen-Xer into your church planting pipeline. It just means that the wave of Gen-Xers who were exposed to the American evangelical youth culture boom of the 1990s and 2000s is almost over.

2. Your Diversity Hasn’t Become Organic…and It Matters Now More than Before

Perhaps the biggest hindrance to an organization’s pipeline is when its leaders can’t demonstrate to a new generation of recruits how they’re contributing to a greater sense of reconciliation and leadership distribution within their organization and society. This goes beyond race and gender policies and diversity initiatives. It’s increasingly important for organizations to build for the future with a natural and almost organic diversity mindset.

Donald McGavran observed that most people are more likely to join a church where there are less cultural hurdles to overcome. We could extrapolate his principle and say that a potential church planter is likely to join a network where there are less cultural hurdles to overcome.

However, in North America, the major nuance is that people, in general, have become more accustomed to diversity.

To Millennials and Gen-Z, diversity only matters when it’s not there.

Which means the leader of today and tomorrow is going to be much more naturally attracted to a diverse organization with diverse leadership. Leadership diversity is a thing of the future.

Actually, it’s a thing of the present.

Much is being written on the benefits and challenges of heterogeneous leadership and how it affects the culture of an organization. Leadership diversity is difficult and much more of a challenge than homogenous leadership. However, in our day and time, it’s the Christian organization’s strongest apologetic for what they say they believe. It’s the gospel having an effect at the highest level of an organization.

And it might be the key to restocking the pipeline.

3. You’re Only Telling One Missional Story

Every church planting network has a similar mission, and that’s to see the Kingdom of God come and lost people saved through planting churches. But the motivational rhetoric used by church planting leaders to recruit potential planters to their mission usually includes a narrative that tells of the decline of churches and church attendance in North America. There are variations of that story, but all could be included in what I call the decline narrative of North American churches.

There are a large number of people in North America that resonate with the decline narrative. That’s because there’s still a great many North Americans who have a church background. They have a vague memory of a more Christian society and, therefore, some plausibility structure that is stirred by this appeal.

However, increasingly, there are more and more North Americans with whom the decline narrative will not motivate or inspire. Many of them are immigrants, perhaps even second and third generation.

In their case, they don’t have enough history to have nostalgic feelings for closed down church buildings or a time when prayer was allowed in school. And even others who do may struggle with seeing any golden age in North America as they recount the history of the Church’s often complicit attitude towards issues like slavery and inequality. (Whether or not that’s fair is beside the point.)

Organizations that are unable to tell richer missional narratives that appeal to a diverse missionary base in North America will find it increasingly difficult to recruit church planters for the future.

Of course, these are just some reasons for why it seems more difficult to stock the church planter pipeline. There are even more sociological, organizational, and even theological reasons for why recruiting is requiring more and more energy.

However, these three particular reasons certainly pose a challenge for organizations to not only tweak their systems and processes, but also to re-calibrate themselves around the values of the kingdom, the next generation, and the reality that has become North America today.

Stay in the Light, 1 John 1:7,

Pastor Larry

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