Monday, August 14, 2006

Messy Church Planting

On Saturday we had a, ah, our church plant in São Leopoldo. One the one hand, it was a worship service, on the other, an evangelistic meeting, on the other, a fellowship, but also an indigenous multi-media event. Let me back up and try to explain.

We have a regular Saturday night discipleship time with three new believers in the home of one of the couples of our core team. I show up, they show up, we have a study, pray, and generally help them grow in Christ. It's safe and predictable just like my uptight, American upbringing likes it. Last Saturday, they came up with the idea that they wanted to have a hot dog supper. It was their idea, they planned it, and all I had to do was show up with some wieners. They had discussed the possibility of watching a movie, but it was all very vague. Not wanting to impose my perspective, I just let the thing roll, and figured that I would show up and figure it out.

Anyway....On Saturday afternoon, I get a call asking me to go pick up one of the new believers who lives in another city and bring them. Ok, no problem. So I show up with a missionary from another Baptist agency who is tagging along and we proceed to wait in the carport of their house for nearly an hour entertaining a two-year-old and an eight-year-old while the rest of them take showers, get snazzed up, etc.

Finally, the whole family of 5, plus the two of us, squeeze into the car and show up at Simão and Marta's house. We walk in to find pandemonium. There were people everywhere (21 in all) - believers, unbelievers, a witchdoctor, kids, a dog, people from the mother church who had never been there before - and guess what? NO PLAN (I don't like it that way). So, the next 15 minutes are spent with Jeff going round and round with various people trying to figure out what to do (I can't just BE, I have to DO). Finally, I got a CD out of the car, we read the words to a song, and then listened to it. Then, I led an off-the-cuff participative Bible study on Jesus and the woman at the well, we had time for testimonies, and then we ate. Finally, we cleared off the table, one of the guys went home, got his DVD player and the copy of the Jesus film I had lent them, we plugged it up to Simão's TV and watched it right there in the garage while the two missionaries tried to keep the kids down to a dull roar so the adults could watch the film. Then, of course, we had to reverse the process and get everybody home.

I really don't like messy. I like to have a plan. But you know what? We worshipped, God's word was studied and applied, the believers were edified, salvation testmonies were shared, fellowship happened, the sick were prayed for, and the lost were evangelized. Even Rick Warren would probably say that the purpose of the church was fullfilled on Saturday - and all in a way the was reproducible and contextual. All I did was bring 20 wieners and a family and ask some discussion questions - the rest was all them.

Church planting can be messy - but that's ok! Now, this church planter just needs to learn the lesson.


GuyMuse said...

We now have a new term to describe church: MESSY CHURCH! What you experienced is probably closer to "real church" than what most of us are comfortable with. It was real LIFE going on, and I think the Father delights in this more than any of us and is more in line with what he intended all along!

Brian Nystrom said...

This is probably obvious but I think worth stating anyway. Lets hope that God thought the purpose of the church was met, no matter what Rich Warren thinks. Also, lets hope that it was not "all them", but that God had a role also. Again, sorry if it comes across as picky and obvious.

Darrell said...

As someone who is on the same mission with God as you it is comforting to see that I am not the only one who has had these same sorts of experiences. I may be in Phoenix AZ but the principles of expanding God's Kingdom spontaneously are the same.

The church I am currently planting is made up of 20 some year olds who for the most part are avid sports fans. While the NBA playoffs were going we would get together and watch the first half and then at half time do a short Bible study, and prayer time. Some of the folks who came to that are new believers today and we meet in their homes.

Thanks for the story!