Tuesday, April 4, 2017

4 Things as C3 Turns 4

4 years.

We celebrate this Sunday that God has graced us with 4 years of existence as a church.

Here's four things that I'm thinking on and have learned in the journey so far.

1. You Can't Give What You Don't Have

This road has not been easy. It has led Shaina and I to question whether we are cut out for it. We have had our share of heartache, suffering and disappointment. And in the pressure (sometimes artificial, sometimes very real) to plant a church, there are moments where you have to decide whether spiritual, relational and emotional vitality can afford to be sacrificed for the sake of whatever is in front of you. Don't do it. The thing you're doing is not as important as the one you're becoming while you're doing it.

People come to us as leaders with a lot of good and awful stuff. There is holy ground in it all. But you can't disciple others toward vitality if you aren't experiencing it yourself.

What I wish I could have told myself? Receive more counseling. Spend more time with friends who have nothing to do with the thing you're leading. Refer more people to counselors or to those with pastoral/shepherding skills that you don't possess.

2. Celebrate More

I am absolutely a victim to the tyranny of the Next Thing. We celebrated 5 baptisms today? Great! Now how do we get them connected? When do we have baptisms again? Missional Community is thriving? Alright! Now how do we develop that leader? Get that person into a huddle? Help cast the vision for replication? Survive and advance is a terrible way to do ministry and leads to a culture that doesn't rejoice where there is rejoicing. Can I just let a win be a win? The challenge is that the wins don't happen in a vacuum. The same day that you find out someone is actually sensing God's voice and giving it a go to follow him, you also find out that someone else who clearly sensed God's voice is choosing not to do what they are called toward. Or it's the same day the cancer diagnosis is given or the job is lost or the leader quits.

I don't want to survive in ministry. I desire to thrive in ministry. And one key ingredient is to seek to be accused of over-celebrating the wins. The NFL has instituted a penalty for excessive celebration after someone scores a touchdown. I want to be better at enjoying the moment. Rejoicing in the little victory in a big way. Do we have a culture of gratitude and celebration that is on the verge of being so over the top that we could get a penalty for it?

3. Hustle Less

I move the needle. In almost everything I'm involved in. It's what makes me an effective church planter. I'm driven. I get stuff done. Ambition is a delicate thing. And the danger I flirt with far too often is believing that City Campus Church will hit milestones, make an impact, grow in numbers or simply make it to her next birthday because of the amount of work, effort and hustle I put in. Confession? There are moments where my identity is tied to the successes or failures of the church...the approvals or rejections of the church. What I do has been who I am. This is immensely dysfunctional and lends itself to a culture that can be toxic.

If my identity, validation and approval are tied to C3's success, I'm more inclined to put pressure on others and make them feel like their identity, validation and approval are also tied to C3's success. There's a better way. A culture that is secure in sonship...when people find their identity, validation and approval all stem from God and not from performance or achievement, the culture shifts from a HAVE TO culture to a GET TO culture. And people will go faster and further with you when they do it out of a place of security rather than striving.

4. Failure is more important than Success

Most of the conferences and seminars out there parade the successful, victorious, triumphant folks around and suggest that if you follow their example you will have the same success. Sometimes this is helpful in getting what is stuck "unstuck". But most of the time it is absolute B.S.
When something is successful, I am inclined to attribute it to our cleverness or effectiveness or grit. The reality is most of the time, I have no idea why something ends up being successful. Success doesn't teach me the way that failure does. When I fail, I realize my inadequacy and incompetency. When I fail, I am teachable. When I fail, I am dependent on God and others.

Maybe the biggest success of C3 is in how often we have fallen on our faces. Leaders have crashed. Missional communities have fizzled. Huddles have self-destructed. And even though each of these things hurts, they have led us to more reflection, prayer and adjusting our sails to where the wind of God is blowing. It's not if you fail but how you fail and too many churches are masters of spin (polish the image and sweep the dirt under the rug). The biggest saboteur to a discipleship culture is the demand for success and excellence.

Imagine if Peter would have been kicked out of Jesus' squad for failing to walk on water, or worse, left to drown in the failure. We need to reclaim Success from a Butts/Bucks/Baptisms approach to one in which success is giving it a go, regardless of outcome in following Jesus. I am not nearly as controlled by fear when I have an attitude that failure is a thing I will do but not a thing I will be. GK Chesterton said and it C3 can recite it. "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing badly."

We are the most effective we've ever been at missional communities because we have failed really aggressively. I feel the same optimism about our huddles. We will be better because we've been bad.

So in a nut shell.

Be well.
Celebrate more.
Hustle less.
Fail abundantly.

That's the recipe to thrill.

Hope to see you Sunday as we celebrate what God has done at City Campus Church!

The Best is Yet to Come

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