Monthly Archives: May 2008





Jared C. Wilson|2:11 pm CT

Baby Factory Churches

Jonathan Brink at Missio Dei posts a great piece on Baby Factory Churches. An excerpt:

There’s a tremendous allure in numerical growth. Numbers look cool. We look cool when the roster says, “600″ or “6,000″. We must be doing something right, right? But I would ask the question, “Are we creating baby factories?” Does our numerical growth come at the expense of the real responsibility of parenting that leads to maturity? Getting people in the door is the easy part. Leading them through the spiritual formation to maturity is the hard part. Are we parenting them in a way that leads to perpetual immaturity?

And I get the allure of new converts. Having a baby is a really cool experience. The day my daughter was born radically changed my life. It’s new and wonderful and awe inspiring to see new person just arrive. But that moment in the hospital is the beginning, not the end. Birth is the beginning of a long journey that ends when my children can reproduce maturity, not a baby. Making babies can take six minutes. Making healthy adults takes a lifetime . . .

And my wonder over the last ten years is have we abandoned the parenting process in our practice of spiritual formation. Have we forgotten the need to create elders and instead chosen to have lots of babies, only to create a world that is deeply immature and incapable of mature reproduction.

Jesus spent three years with twelve people, an astounding thought in today’s church models. He was not interested in the crowds who were interesting in cheap thrills. He refused to play their games and was deeply interested in spiritual maturity, not numerical growth. He got parenting because he himself was deeply connected to His Father and had reached spiritual maturity.

What I would also offer is that by abandoning the spiritual formation process, we abandon our own growth.

Go read the whole thing.

In the comments, Jonathan adds, “Jesus wouldn’t have been a very good church planter because he spent way too much time with a small group of 12 men.”

But of course that made him an incredible church planter.

(HT: Bill Kinnon via email)






Jared C. Wilson|2:42 pm CT

It’s Worth It

Last weekend I was talking about Element with a guy who by his own admission previously hated Christians. He said, “You don’t understand how this has changed my life.”

God could have taken me home right there.






Jared C. Wilson|2:30 pm CT

Putting Your Money Where Your Mission Is

From Shaun Groves:

I’ve seen the strange. I’ve seen a worship leader in sun glasses and a sequined suit slide across a stage twirling a microphone. I’ve seen cars, pirate ships and diving boards in sanctuaries.

I’ve seen the bad. I’ve seen a pastor promise a good sugar beat harvest to farmers in Wyoming if only their teen children will stop having sex and smoking. I’ve seen luxury cars promised to those who’ll give all the money in their bank accounts to the church.

But never, in the last seven years, have I seen this.

I’m at 100 churches a year right now. I try to ask someone on staff at every one of them what their church is already doing across the street and on the other side of the world to meet spiritual and physical needs. I ask for lots of reasons. I want to know if I’m speaking to a group of people who are in the habit of giving and thinking of those outside their church. I want to know if they hear about the poor in this place. I want to know if there’s already a habit of giving and serving. I want to know if there’s a theological foundation already regarding poverty and compassion present I can build on or if I have to lay that myself. I need to know what I’m dealing with because my time is short and I have to make the best of it and, in a country of short attention spans getting shorter, I want to waste as few words as possible.

The answers vary. We support missionaries. We give money to our denomination. We build houses with Habitat. Our small groups do stuff. Most churches do something both locally and globally. It’s very encouraging to see, hundreds of churches in the last seven years doing something to meet physical and spiritual needs.

Today I asked Sandy the question. She’s the associate pastor at Pender United Methodist in Fairfax, Virginia. Part of her answer I’ve never heard before. ONE THIRD OF THIS CHURCH’S BUDGET GOES TO MISSIONS. I’ve never heard a percentage that high before. Astounding.

More astounding? Twenty-one years ago they weren’t giving like this. Back then they were having a hard time meeting their budget. Then a shift happened. I don’t know all of why, but the pastors decided to raise $25,000 for missions that year. At the end of that year the church met their budget but didn’t raise the $25,000 for missions. They raised $65,000 for missions instead!






Jared C. Wilson|2:09 pm CT

Say it With Me Now: What You Win Them With is What You Win Them To

Yesterday I linked to Ray Ortlund’s modest proposal, and I suggested that although it is a nice idea, it would never happen for reasons that would make me sound like a jerk if elucidated.
It occurs to me now that my silence may have implied I didn’t want to sound like a jerk to Dr. Ortlund. That is not the case at all. I didn’t want to repeat the same “woe is the Church” stuff I’m getting tired of myself, lest I seem like a jerk toward other churches.

But that was yesterday. :-)

The reason I don’t think it would happen/work is because the average evangelical church already thinks it’s correcting the previous generation’s evangelistic errors. They already believe they are delighting the world with Jesus.
“I mean, gee, look, we’ve got fog machines and power pop songs. We’re all about the fun. And as far as disturbing people with Jesus goes, just look at all the religious people who are uncomfortable here. We’re doing our job! We’re just like Jesus.”

Or so I imagine it would go.

See, my hunch would be that most churches would sign such a thing already believing they’re part of the solution (and that would include myself). But many of them are mistaken (and that could include myself, admittedly).

Overheard at two different blogs yesterday:

“Creating an over the top experience for our guests isn’t just a talking point, it’s a driving force behind Sunday mornings.”

“I’m sick and tired of Las Vegas and Hollywood outdoing the church.”

Yes. Ahem. Well.

By all means, let’s keep on down this road. Clearly what people desperate for the gospel and starving for the glory of God really need is an “over the top experience” and a presentation the likes of which make Vegas and Hollywood jealous.

Because that stuff clearly works. Let’s keep going down that road.

And now I’m done sounding like a smug know-it-all. :-)

Rethinking the Attractional Worship Paradigm
Reminder: The Show is Not Working
What You Win Them With is What You Win Them To






Jared C. Wilson|2:00 pm CT

Tuesday is for the Ha Ha

The candidate I’m voting for brings the funny:






Jared C. Wilson|2:53 pm CT

Measuring Success

The Heresy posts on the Church’s mixed priorities in what it “measures”:

Now imagine a school that measured how much people enjoyed the classes, how great the day care was, how inspiring the teacher was, the levels of enrolment and the amount of funding they had but only passively cared about the success of their graduates in the workplace. That my friends describes most of the church in North America today.

We need to change what we measure and how we measure our success.

· Do people have a proper understanding of the gospel?

· Do they love the people that can offer them nothing in return?

· Are people willing to sacrifice for others?

· Are people becoming more like Christ in their values and behaviour?

· Do they have life and freedom?

If we considered these things, we would realize the state we are in and we would change. As long as we measure things based on our own personal satisfaction or by the markers of organizational success we will miss the point.


(HT: Dying Church)






Jared C. Wilson|2:31 pm CT

Won’t You Take Me To Linkytown

Some quality links to get your week started off right . . .

Bill’s post on The Missing Piece wins best post of the month so far honors.

Timmy Brister highlights an illuminating comment by Rick Warren.

This is a nice idea, but it will never happen (on a grand scale) for reasons I won’t speculate on lest I come across as a jerk on this fine Monday morning.

Rob Harrison contributes to the missional conversation. (If you’re not reading Rob, you should.)

Michael Spencer may be closing up on shop on The Internet Monk site and opening a new one called Jesus-Shaped Spirituality. Which is fine by me, so long as he keeps writing.
(Write that book while you have the time, iMonk!)

Glenn Lucke on the Come As You Are Church.
Good stuff there relevant to those doing ministry with and to young adults.

Don’t miss out on the latest installment of Rules of Awesomely Bold Leadership. You are sure to be edified.

Happy surfing!






Jared C. Wilson|1:48 pm CT

Thank You, Kairos

Josh, David, Sarah, and I visited Kairos last night, an awesome young adult ministry sponsored by Brentwood Baptist Church here in Nashville. The worship service was a fantastic example of God-centered singing and cross-centered teaching, which is always an encouragement to us, because gospel-centered churches are few and far between even here in the Bible belt. To see a big group of mostly college students and young professionals — more than 1/3 of which have no church background — engaging in the exaltation of Christ and the exposition of Scripture is great cause for hope.

After the service, Pastor Mike Glenn and the Kairos team were gracious enough to meet with us and were very generous with their time. I know the exhaustion that kicks in after the adrenaline burst of preaching and leading a worship service, so the fact that they stayed for several hours afterwards to make us feel welcome and counseled was amazing.

The Element team learned a lot and were greatly encouraged. We found out we have quite a bit more in common with Kairos’ philosophy and story than we realized. They shared, they listened, they encouraged. They talked about starting with 12 people and a big idea. They talked about protecting the worship culture of the community. They talked about nurturing a discipleship culture of a distinct community within a church with a very different culture.
And then they prayed for us.

This meeting came four days after my having another sit-down with Ray Ortlund, so I feel like this week God has been so good to me in putting me in the presence of experience, wisdom, and insight.

My encouragement to other pastors and leaders is to reach out to people who have been there, who are doing what you’re doing and ask lots of questions and then listen, listen, listen. Warning: If you treat your church like a business, you will treat other churches like your competition.

We’ve already got David setting up some more meetings for us, even if just so we can create some mutually supportive friendships and partnerships.






Jared C. Wilson|2:52 pm CT

Why Plant?

Ray Ortlund says it so well:

When God looks down on this world, what moves him to compassion? One thing is the sight of a world with too few churches. Too few Christ-honoring, Bible-believing, revival-ready, open-hearted, welcoming churches. Is there one city in all this world with too many such churches? I have no assurance that God thinks so.

A truth too often overlooked in our times, especially by those who invent parachurch ministries, is that churches are God’s only biblically authorized strategy for world redemption. Churches are his Plan A, and he has revealed no Plan B. Where in all the Bible are we authorized by God to create rivals to his church? I do not invalidate parachurch (that is, side-bar) ministries. I gave nine years of my life to one, and with a happy conscience too. But every parachurch ministry must openly support, rather than challenge, the churches within its scope of influence. Every Christian and every ministry everywhere must have a passion for the unique prestige of the church in the revealed ways of God.

At a practical level, churches require more patience and humility. Maybe that’s why Christians invent alternatives. But there’s just this one truth to give us pause: “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”






Jared C. Wilson|2:15 pm CT

The Florida "Revival"

Someone emailed me a few weeks back asking my opinion on the so-called Florida Revival. That was the first I’d heard of it. (If you’re reading this, friend, I’m sorry I have misplaced your email and don’t remember who you were, but as it happens, my response at the time would have been an unhelpful “Never heard of it.”)

I don’t know all that much about it now. But since then I’ve read more on it here and there.

Three things I should mention:
a) I’m not now nor have I ever been a charismatic, but I am a continuationist, theologically speaking. That is, I don’t believe the charismatic gifts described in Scriptural history ceased at the closing of the canon (or any other time).
b) That said, I am pretty much knee-jerk suspicious of most reported “outpourings” like this, and I tend to think charismatics/Pentecostals could gain a whole lot more sympathy for their cause if they stopped jumping on every freakshow bandwagon that popped up.
c) That said, I am not eager to malign the character or impugn the motives of people I don’t know or know much about.

But here’s my opinion:
It sounds satanic.

I’m trying to take a look at original sources (actual writings by Todd Bentley, actual video clips) and not rely on critical accounts, but the original sources aren’t helping the case for authentic revival.

When the “angels” visiting Bentley aren’t spouting bland Chicken Soup for the Charismatic Soul platitudes, they’re teaching him bad theology. And is it any surprise to anyone that these angels really want people to have financial breakthroughs? Because, I mean, come on!, the Bible is very concerned that we all have financial breakthroughs. Right?


I read this, and I’m sorry, I know it is his word against mine, but this is b.s.
It just is.

That might make you mad, and that’s fine. You probably weren’t inclined to think I’d be fair anyway, but I’ll start being fair when this stuff produces:

a) prophetic pronouncements with 100% accuracy and quantifiable results, not loud animal sounds and crippled people falling down because you yelled “Bam!”,

b) an understanding of the Holy Spirit as a comforter and healer who evokes awe and wonder because he is God, not as a magical pixie dust you can throw around on people like Rip Taylor’s confetti,

and c) actual, reformational revival in the land, not arenas full of people whooping and hollering. That’s not revival. That’s . . . well, I don’t know what that is, but it’s not revival.

So yeah. That’s my opinion of the goings on in Florida.