Many church planters hope that this would be the case when they plant churches, but find out down the road, that trying to get there is harder than inventing the longer lasting light bulb. If Edison couldn’t do it on his own, neither can the church planter. It’s true that many of the people who join a core team are just along for the ride, but that’s often because they’ve not been shown how to participate. We have given them neither permission, nor opportunity.
Unless you give people permission to exercise their gifts, most gifted people in your church will sit there like a maserati in a garage, just occupying a space of unrealized potential. They will have skills, and spiritual gifts that we need desperately, but we haven’t allowed them to dream. Most of us can remember upon conversion coming up with some grandiose dream that energized us with unbridled enthusiasm. As we vomited all over everyone at church, they recoiled, muttering something like “we don’t do things like that here”, or “you should talk to the Pastor”. Often, if we had the guts to approach the Oz the great and powerful (Nobody sees the wizard!) we were told with frightening thunderings that our idea didn’t fit the vision of the church, or it wasn’t a part of the five year plan. All too often leaders want to call the shots, and direct people without ever considering the spiritual gifts, desires, and passions the Holy Spirit has sovereignly placed in our midst. How tragic would it have been to have a Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, or Walt Disney in our congregations who were never tapped simply because they never had the desire to preach a sermon, fold bulletins, collect the offering or stack the donuts? This actually became vividly real to me when I started talks with one of the leading video game developers on the planet who wanted to start training church planters in entrepreneurial ventures to help them become bi-vocational. He’s got the status and fame of a rock star in other speheres, but wants to use his gifts to expand the ministry of church planting. I can’t imagine replacing his desire to use a God-given gift with a church chore. “Sure, you can help. Fold these bulletins.” Because this is such a huge risk, our church plants need to provide opportunities to explore and experiment with our gifts
Microchurches often organize themselves around mission or gifting. For example, I might have a group of readers who decide to meet in the local bookshop weekly, discussing a book with the intention of engaging lost people who also like to read. Another microchurch may consist of a group of writers who are intent on changing the world through the power of the pen, convinced that their weapon of choice is mightier than the sword. Where do writers go for encouragement to talk their craft, and spur one another on in the ministry of writing? Not the church. They might choose to meet together in the library and host writing workshops, or writing classes. People who are interested in the same thing and come to faith join that expression of church that also meets together around the word, breaking of bread, and prayer. Microchurches are all about giving people permission to run at mission with the gifts that God gave them.
Our microchurches were called COGs (which stood for Communities Of Grace), and served as a bunch of cogs within a big wheel. We met centrally for mission in the city, but the “real church” were the smaller groups, and it’s where I trained leaders to be future church planters. They branched out in their gifts, and honed their leadership, preaching, and discipleship in a smaller context. When that group reached maturity, and the leader was thoroughly equipped, we launched them out. It was more intentional than what happened in Antioch, but it was the same result.
Buy Peyton’s newest book “Reaching The Unreached: Becoming Raiders of the Lost Art” over on Amazon.com. You can also download a free chapter and watch a cool trailer for the book HERE or click the image below.