Recently, I was at a wedding and met this guy that was raised in the Mar Thoma Church (an Indian denomination), but has stopped going to church altogether. He’s Nicodemus – and so he knows religion, but his heart has not been born again. He’s like the guys walking down the Seven Mile Road – and so he knows the facts of the Gospel, but His eyes have not been opened to see Jesus. Anyway, we started talking about what we each did for a living. When it was my turn, I told him about Philadelphia and our vision for church planting. You should have seen how excited and interested he was in the idea. If he was being honest, he sounded like he would be at a church like the one I described tomorrow! I was so encouraged and reminded of why I believe God is calling us to plant a church; because there are a ton of guys like this guy. He’s not even a Christian yet, but He was so excited about this church that is just being birthed.
I was also reminded that right from the start, our Core Group should be comprised with guys like this. We’re at a point now where we have about 16 adults who are hoping to be a part of this church plant. All 16 love Jesus. Awesome. But now, these 16 people need to be sent on mission to the city and culture of Philadelphia and grow this small church with unbelievers.
I was at a church planting conference a little while back and the speaker made us say aloud, “I will not take other Christians into our church plant.” His point was that we should always seek to grow our church through conversions. Missional growth must be a part of our DNA. When churched Christians come into the church, they often come with a wide variety of preconceived ideas of what church should be – music played in a certain way, preaching done in a certain style, ministries organized in a distinct manner. Often you’ll find that a young church plant is most frustrating for churched people and most exhilarating for unchurched folks. Now I’m not opposed to having Christians come and check out our church. I believe part of our call is to edify the saints, mature them, and send them on mission with us. But right from the start, our shoulders as it were, should be pointed towards mission and our focus on those that are not yet a part of this church plant. It’s for them that we’ll exist.
In the coming months as we begin to share our vision and grow our Core Group, we should do so by inviting guys like the one I met at this wedding. Inviting them to come with us, live life with us, walk the road with us, and discover Jesus along the way. I long for the 16 people in this Core to grow this church to hundreds by befriending, loving, serving, and witnessing to people who don’t know Jesus.