Am I a church planter?


Am I one of these?My senior year of college, I got connected with a group contemplating a church plant in Los Angeles. The idea was fresh and exciting. And I liked the people spearheading the plant. Unfortunately, their plan was to move to L.A. in 2008 or 2009, and I was ready to get out of Searcy. No matter how cool a plan, how cool the people, it wasn’t worth staying at Harding.

After graduation, I knew that Hayley and I were coming back to Wichita, and that we would plug into Central cChurch of Christ – the church at which Hayley grew up and at which I interned the previous summer. I assumed that I would engage in youth ministry (as a sponsor) and Hayley would continue working with children.

That went well for a while, but I honestly had less time, energy and passion for youth ministry than I expected. I also, slowly but surely, lost my connections with the teens – both in terms of personal relationships and the desire to communicate with them as I used to (which usually involved my hitting my head on a chair or acting the fool in some other, equally creative way). I also felt much more drawn to people my own age, people who were turned off by church. Turned off by institutions. Bored by traditions.

People a lot like me.

Then I met Cliff, and as I’ve mentioned before, the combination of Cliff and Velvet Elvis led me down a path of asking, “What’s next for the church?” And obviously, today I’m exploring that through Breathe.

I subscribe to a couple of blogs from current and former, now successful, church planters. I’m impressed with their passion, commitment and thought that goes into every decision. I think their plans are amazing. I sometimes grow jealous of their success.

But I don’t feel a connection to them. I don’t feel like we’re doing the same thing. I don’t feel like I’m a church planter.

So, friends, the question I pose to you today: what makes a person a church planter?

Happy Monday.

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  1. June 16, 2008 at 6:04 pm — Reply

    Good question.

  2. kristin
    June 17, 2008 at 9:06 am — Reply

    Who cares? I dont know. I mean, maybe I’m a church planter because I have a church in my living room and some people who werent “doing church” at all, do so now because of that. But, I mean, why do you ask? I dont think we all have to be church planters. I really dont even think that should be the goal. If you have anything to do with a new group of people (or an old group of people) meeting to worship, fellowship, commune, pray, study, whatever! in a place where there was no such thing going on before, then you are part of a church plant-a church planter.
    I mean, the idea of something being planted is that it is in a place where it wasnt before whether it is planted new (from seed, so to speak) or transplanted or a little of both. I think so, anyway.
    Todd, if you want to be a church planter, then by golly you are! 😉
    anyway, I guess I have just never asked myself that question becuase it doesnt matter to me so much. I just want to do what God wants ME to do…whatever its called. I am glad for you and Breathe (Spirit). By the way, is that part of the reason for the name “Breathe” – that the word in the bible is also “spirit”?

  3. June 17, 2008 at 9:48 am — Reply

    I haven’t commented in a very long time. Things are crazy with my family b/c we leave for Peru to do just that in August. I appreciate what Kristin said. If you want some really good food for thought, a book that our team studied together on church planting is called Organic Church. Great Read. Easy Read.
    We hope to be part of planting the movement in Arequipa.

  4. June 17, 2008 at 10:12 am — Reply

    Todd, have you been stalking me? because you said exactly what goes through my head every day.

    I am a church planter, on my second plant…thinking about a third.

    I cannot stop thinking about what is next for the church and my conclusion is that America is not ready for what I have to offer, but the time is coming quickly.

  5. kristin
    June 17, 2008 at 11:02 am — Reply

    Vince…just some encouragment…America is ready!! Go for it.

  6. Toby
    June 17, 2008 at 2:01 pm — Reply

    Todd and Vince…

    Talk to me! God brings people together for this kind fo stuff… i have beentalking to Todd about having lunch for monts now and behold, this has been my hidden agenda! MUWAHAHAHA! I particularly identify with vince’s comment: “I cannot stop thinking about what is next for the church and my conclusion is that America is not ready for what I have to offer, but the time is coming quickly.

    What might the HS be arranging?


  7. June 18, 2008 at 10:01 am — Reply

    Sign me up!

  8. June 18, 2008 at 1:09 pm — Reply

    I’m not sure what to offer here.

    But I entertain the thought that the world doesn’t need any more churches.

    I think church planting is overrated and overdone.

    The world needs fewer churches and more people living like Jesus.

    If I hear another of my “something other than Christian” friends complain about how many churches there are, I’m going to scream.

    I agree with them.

    There are way too many buildings and “communities” and “manifestations” and “organic gatherings of believers”. It makes me want to puke.

    I think the future leaders of God’s kingdom on earth are going to be master’s of opening up doors of opportunities that focus on empowering people through value and ownership of life.

    Some examples include:

    1. Entrepreneurial ventures.
    2. Creative experiences.
    3. Service experiments.
    4. Cultural development.
    5. Modest living coupled with Generous Giving of resources.

    My encouragement to everyone reading this: Please don’t plant another church! It’s not that America isn’t “ready,” it’s that America doesn’t want it at all.

    For more and more people Church isn’t even on their radar. When people think about their lives and how their lives can be made better, going to church isn’t in the top 5 things to try or do. People don’t want more worship music, prayer meetings, and sermons. Cool names and logos convincing people X church is not like Y church when the experience is the exact same is so ridiculous.

    People don’t want to hear about or sing about the Kingdom of Heaven, they want to experience it as real and viable. They want to know it as transformative and positive. People want their lives to be made better. But when they look around at those living in the “truth” and see division, hypocrisy, selfishness, greed, and fear, they don’t see a viable option for their lives. What they see among us is a chaotic, destructive mess. Who wants any part of that?

    More churches won’t do the trick.

    What the CHURCH (the Kingdom of God on earth) needs to do is come together in a radical way. We must move as a unit. Singular. Whole. Synergistic.

    We as individuals need to take the life and teachings of Jesus seriously.

    We need to live as radically as he did; as generously as he did; as sacrificial and gracious and merciful and forgiving as he did. We need to take seriously what he took seriously. We need to actually care for those he cared for: The sick, the hungry, the lonely, the disabled, the sinners.

    We need to actually do these things; and not only on special occasions or every once in a while. Always. Constantly. Ceaselessly. Tirelessly. We often think that we do these things for the sake of Heaven.

    I disagree.

    I think Heaven is for the sake of these.

    No more churches.

    The future needs less of them. Not more.

    What the world actually needs is Jesus. And he’s not here right now. So he has asked us to stand in his place for now until he decides to come on back.

    It could be a while.


  9. Toby
    June 18, 2008 at 4:58 pm — Reply


    I plan on meeting you very soon!

    I tend to agree heavily with you on most of what you posted. Church planting cannot be ruled out though, our paradigm of some key essentials simply needs to change. That is why America doesn’t seem to be ready yet. The prevailing American paradigm for church is sorely twisted, but not intentionally. It can be redeemed. And the path for the church was set by Jesus and the disciples… it doesn’t need to be eliminated, rather it needs to be corrected at this time. When I see you I will get to explain more of what I mean, but for now let me just say that the concept of what church is MUST find its identity in Jesus… not in a building, not in a name (i.e., First ______ Church of Wichita), not in a pastor, not in a routine service. The church is people who gather in the name (character) of Christ. So there must be churches, but they must also look different from what we have known them to be for at least 50 years and possibly 1800 years.

    I can’t wait to see you!


  10. June 19, 2008 at 10:21 am — Reply

    Cliff & Toby:
    In a perfect world that would be epic to not have institutionalized church. The emergent movement has tried to make that work and they brought a lot a fresh truth to the table that modern churches have taken to heart and started to make some changes. What we have seen is that the movement has been ineffective. Sure there have been some successful communities here and there, but for the most part the ideas are to far away from where people are at now.

    Cliff, you sound like i used to. And I think you are right. But the fact is that we have to be effective, and in America that means compromise….which sucks.

    believe me when I say that the church should:

    >actually love gay people and not protest them
    >protest war
    >stop being an alienated group within communities
    >not vote republican or democrat
    >solve real problems as gospel…not just bring ‘the gospel’

    The fact is that we have to tread lightly in the direction that you speak of, and I want to get there faster than anyone, but along the way we need to be effective where we are and build a massive account of credibility.

    Progress is happening. Pray. Love.

  11. June 19, 2008 at 10:32 am — Reply

    Vince, may ask with whom we need to build that credibility?

  12. June 19, 2008 at 10:47 am — Reply


    that’s the worst part. We have to be careful when we speak of truths that are to wide angle for American Christians, or we lose credibility. Little issues like drinking and media intake are still major issues with the Christians in America. The VAST majority of Christians would go cross-eyed trying to tune into this simple dialog we are having right here.

    also, our credibility with the American public is pretty beat up for many reasons. TBN, westboro baptist, Joel Olsteen, Jimmy Swaggert, ted haggard…this list goes on.

    So we have guns cocked and aimed at us from both directions.

    The American church is a monster that we can’t just walk away from, we have to tame it and bring it back to what God intended.

    If you want to be a change agent, Credibility is everything.

  13. June 19, 2008 at 11:50 am — Reply

    Vince, I completely understand what you’re saying, and I’m not sure I disagree, but let me play devil’s advocate.

    When credibility becomes the goal, it seems like the compromises that are necessary compromise what you’re trying to accomplish and you end up being neither relevant or reverent. You just exist in this middle ground where you reach no one.

    I’m admittedly biased, but in what ways should we desire credibility with the American church?

  14. June 19, 2008 at 12:07 pm — Reply

    Compromise sucks…but it is the reality we live in. I’m not Jesus and neither is anyone else.

    The American church is our team. We need those people to be effective. Sure a lot of them need to open their eyes to what they have become, and we can start there. This is credibility we need. And we need to do it in peace and love “a house divided will not stand”

    Let’s say you have a really fat friend and you want to help them to get better. But they are weak and if you come on too strong you may put up a wall and lose any opportunity to be effective. But instead you help them discover for themselves what they should do.

    the postmodern church has done a good job of improving dialogue with non-Christians this way. I think we need to treat those in the church the same.

  15. June 19, 2008 at 12:09 pm — Reply

    Vince I hear you. I have a passion for church-people – even if they drive me nuts.

  16. June 19, 2008 at 3:37 pm — Reply


    I like Joel Osteen. Don’t tell anyone.

    But seriously. I appreciate what you’re saying and it sounds well thought out. I would really like to have cred. among mainstream Christians. But if I don’t have it and if I never receive it, so be it.

    It won’t stop me.

    I love Christian people. We’re family for god’s sake! But sometimes the only place a prophet isn’t well received is in his home town.

    I will say I think it would be amazing to have the support of the mainsteam, conservative church. I want it! And, honestly, I think a major shift is on the horizon. I think we stay our current bearing, without slowing up or changing our pace. It won’t be much longer before the support is here.

    Thanks for sharing your heart, Vince.


  17. Toby
    June 19, 2008 at 4:23 pm — Reply

    Cliff & Vince

    What are your goals? On an individual basis, or possibly with teamship already established in your lives, what are your goals?

    My goal, on an individual basis, is to position myself to fund the translation of the bible into NEW languages. In the pursuit of genuine church and christian expression, I have arrived at this goal and discovered that I agree with both of you on so much… but only to the extent of acknowledging the problems and the miriad of viable solutions that admittedly are hard to swallow for the institutionalized church. I used to be bitter, not that I think you are, but I definitely was. I had a “come to Jesus moment” when I realized I detested the bride he loves, with all her flaws. I want to be on his side, so I dropped the bitterness.

    I know Vince is right, the church has to transform. they will not do it unless the prophets stay within the spheres of church influence. We cannot be Jonah.

    So, what are your goals?

  18. June 19, 2008 at 5:54 pm — Reply

    My goal:

    -be the Gospel by meeting real needs
    -help the church shed useless traditions

    all the while never wavering from effectiveness.

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Am I a church planter?