Meaningful ‘Differentiation’ In A Church Plant

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Every new business tries to differentiate itself from all others.

The same kind of thinking holds true for churches. Sadly, this can result in our trying to “be different for the sake of being different.” Not much point in that as it can lead to silliness at best and hurtful mistakes at the worse.

However, what about the sometimes overpowering urge to just ‘knock-off’ the ministry of some admired leader? This one can spell real trouble.

When I say trouble, I mean trouble of a spiritual nature. Paul wrote about this kind of action to the fledgling church at Corinth, “…Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world? 4 When one of you says, ‘I am a follower of Paul,’ and another says, ‘I follow Apollos,’ aren’t you acting just like people of the world?”

According to the apostle, cookie cutter Christianity (magnified when it occurs in a leader) is worldly behavior.

And, he says it is a pathway cut out by a sinful nature.

What exactly is he getting at? And, how does that apply to a church planter?

Whenever we copy someone else, we are practicing a form of humanism rather than listening to the creative voice of the Holy Spirit.

Far better to present problems and opportunities to your core team and then prayerfully seek a new way of doing things than to copy someone else’s revelation. God is creative, and he will give you new and creative ways of doing things that actually fit in your community if you give him half a chance.

The only exception to this “Do Not Copy” rule would be to clone your mentor for the first few months out the gate. Doing so helps remind you of where you came from and who you are—it gives you a guiding star for making well-reasoned changes that will certainly differentiate you from your mentor over time.

People around us are spiritually hungry. Many are bored with the church as they’ve known it. Some are hurt. Offer something fresh, and you’ll touch many lives.