When Bill Clinton ran for President in 1992, James Carville gave him a catch phrase to keep him on message. “It’s The Economy, Stupid.” That simple phrase reminded Candidate Clinton what was most important to the voters at that time. Carville’s advice – if you focus on anything but the economy, you’re stupid! Carville was right. The rest is history.
If I could only use four words to advise every church planter, they would be, “It’s The Mission, Stupid!” If you focus on anything but Christ’s Mission, you’re stupid. If I had three more words, I’d say “Don’t be stupid!”
Stupid happens when planters get sidetracked by peripheral stuff. Like glittery models. I don’t mean supermodels. That’s too obvious. And please don’t get distracted by supermodels either. That’s a whole other blog post! I mean something much more subtle. I mean – sparkly church planting models.
Here’s how a church planting model gets sparkly. A uniquely gifted leader starts a church that quickly shows all the signs of success, especially in numerical growth. The uniquely gifted leader hosts a conference to tell everyone how he/she did it. “10 steps to successful planting.” “Five laws of starting strong.” “Plant the Best Church Ever!” Whatever. Voila! Sparkly model.
You leave the conference full of confidence and enthusiasm because you know if you follow the model, you will experience success! Before you know it, you are planting a model instead of joining Jesus on His Mission! It’s an easy trap to fall into.
Here’s the antidote: Model must serve mission. Period. Models can be helpful when being with Jesus on His Mission is the goal. But make sure you understand the Mission first! Who has He called you to reach? Answer: Those who are lost. Next question: What is the best model for reaching the lost that God has called me to reach? It could be the sparkly model you just heard about at the conference. But it might be a different approach. My point: Understand the Mission first and then find your model.
Church planting models aren’t the only glittery things that can take planters off Christ’s Mission. An awesome meeting space. The perfect launch team. A big donor who wants to buy the church of his/her dreams, etc. Everything must serve Christ’s Mission. If the meeting space doesn’t fit the mission, then find a different space. If the launch team disagrees on the mission, reconfigure the launch team. If the donor wants to fund a different mission, tell him/her yours isn’t for sale.
Because, it’s about His Mission, Stupid!