Church Planting

I’m not planting a church…

Got ya.  You were thinking, “What!?  Did you change your mind already?”  Fickle guy.

Or…if you’re cynical about catchy slogans, you were probably thinking, “Sure you’re not…”

Seriously. I’m not planting a church. I mean, how can I? The church has already been planted. It was established about two thousand years ago by Christ (check out the book of Acts).

I know, I shouldn’t get all technical, but there’s a problem with the language when you say “plant a church”.  You see, you can’t really plant a church because a church is more than a building, more than a geographical location.  It’s so much more.  It’s God’s invisible kingdom, His people who are His hands, feet and voice in the world. It’s forcefully advancing and cannot be contained.

(For those theology/sociology/history buffs out there, let’s just say that this view of the church is SO fourth century.  We can thank Constantine and historical Christendom for our dented ecclesiology.)

This fall, we’re going to ask people to journey with us to “plant a church”.  I guess it’s better to say we’re going to “gather together under a common vision to be the church.”  Technical, I know…but true.

You see, there’s a downside to seeing the church as just a building or a weekend experience. First, it’s a limited (sometimes false?) view of the church. Second, it confines your spiritual life and the purpose of the church to an experience and a place.

Now, I’m not saying that the church can’t gather. But where it gathers is not as important as that it gathers. And gathering isn’t the only thing the church is all about.

If you are a follower of Christ, you are the church.  You’re part of something huge. And everywhere you go, you bring the church.  When you go out for coffee at Starbucks, you bring it. When you take the LRT to work, you bring it. When you hang out with those you care about, you bring it.

So bring it. Today, wherever you go, you are the church and you are bringing the church to the world.  Be the church, the true church. Bring truth, love and light to every space you occupy.

I’m at an airport in Munich. I’ve got two hours left to bring it.

Church Planting

Turkish Bazaar

Some things are the same the world over.  Like seagulls.  Karen and I are touring Turkey this week.  They have seagulls!  Why is it that the seagulls here look the same as those in Uganda, Taiwan, Germany…even Saskatchewan?  Ever wonder how they managed to populate almost every corner on the planet?  I sometimes wonder…do all seagulls eat diapers?  The ones in Moose Jaw do.

There are other things the same the world over…marketplaces.  In Turkey, they call them bazaars. I’ve come to the conclusion that, while each marketplace has its own distinct flavor, they all share striking similarities. Karen and I went to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul last week.  Here in Turkey, everyone says that its sellers are aggressive.  From my experience, they are no more aggressive than they are in Mexico City or Nairobi.  In Nairobi, I was lovingly surrounded by about eight artisans who were not going to let me leave because I showed an interest in their wares.  I left that market with an empty wallet and a new camel-skinned drum.

It’s tough going to a marketplace and being Canadian.  Maybe it’s because you’re used to lots of space.  And maybe it’s because you’re overly polite.  I think the sellers in the Grand Bazaar have an uncanny sixth-sense about Canadian niceness.  They specialize in getting your attention.  All they have to do is say, “Hello, how are you today?”  I mean, what true-blooded Canadian is not going to stop and say, “Me?  I’m just fine.  Thanks for asking!  How are you?”  Then they have you. You just opened the door to useless-novelty-trinket-stuff limbo.

And because you’re uber polite, you don’t know how to walk away. After all, you don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. So you pretend you’re interested even when you’re really not. But the longer you stay in the scene, the more guilty you feel for wasting the seller’s time. So you end up buying something you don’t really need, or you break off the conversation and walk away, your sorry heart smothered in guilt for hurting someone’s feelings. Meanwhile, he’s shouting “How are you?” at another Canadian and has already forgotten you.

So I decided to just keep walking whenever someone asked, “How are you?”  I know it sounds rude, according to Canadian culture.  But according to the culture of the Grand Bazaar…I’m not so sure.  “How are you?” might mean “Hello, would you like to buy a rug?”

Karen and I are having a blast in Turkey.  We love traveling and experencing new cultures because when you step outside your own culture, you experience humility (if you have the right mindset).  You discover that not everything in your own culture is perfect. You also experience enrichment as you learn from other cultures.

I’ve been reflecting on the new church that we will be starting in the fall.  One of our defining characteristics is that we will be multi-ethnic.  We’re going to be launching in the northeast part of Edmonton.  This is an ethnically diverse region, rich with people groups from every corner of the globe. We want our church to reflect this beautiful diversity.

I look forward to celebrating and learning from other cultures. What might that look like?  Today…I have no idea. But it’s in my heart.