I just returned from Saddleback Church’s Commissioned Conference 2011, a conference intended to bolster church planters in their passions, strategies, and actions. Rick Warren spoke during the main sessions, and other church planters spoke in the breakout sessions. It was a deeply valuable experience and I had several takeaways.
For many years I have had a deep passion for what the Church could look like. Ten years ago, God began planting the seeds of a vision that has become clearer and more eminent in my own mind and heart. Attending the conference, it was clear that I was not alone. But the clarity that I hoped to leave with eluded me, as instead more questions were triggered that I have yet to find answers to. I took many notes, both from the wisdom of fellow attendees as well as the speakers themselves.
What was instantly obvious is that all the presenters, seasoned church planters, have a shared passion: Evangelism. While it may seem intuitive in hindsight, I was caught off-guard. I’m not sure why, but I was expecting more variety in the types of passion and roles represented, but the Evangelist clearly is the heart of the church planting movement. This presents a conundrum for me, as my primary passion is for Discipleship. I was designed to be a Pastor, not an Evangelist. Now, of course, there is always overlap. But, the serious question emerged, “Do I have the right passion for church planting?”
We reviewed independent statistics about the church and we discussed all kinds of church planting strategies, but another concept began to take shape for me. The vision that I have believed in for so long, the picture of what the Church could truly be, was deeply reinforced over the course of the conference. The healthiest churches are churches that all share that common core belief system about the purpose of the Church, based in the five principles from Acts 2 and Ephesians 4:11.
I have much to process. Is this vision for a healthy church intended for me to initiate? Is a passion for a healthy Bride of Christ enough, or does a church planter really need a primary passion for the lost? All I know for certain is that I have been discipling within the Church for many years, and it isn’t enough anymore. It isn’t enough to only reach a few.