Benchmarking Success In Boulder
You may remember an earlier post called Keeping It Weird in Boulder, where a church planting friend of ours named Kirk talked about their experiences in Boulder, CO. It's high time for an update, so I thought I'd share his reflections on how one measures success in church planting (pay particular attention to what unbelievers' say they find most compelling about the Christian faith)...
Can you believe Deb and I have been in Boulder for eight and a half months? We have loved almost every minute of it.
As we work to plant this church we are finding that church planting can be a humbling experience, particularly as you look for “things” to substantiate your work, things you can see and count in order to measure your "success”.
It is hard to measure success especially if you are unsure what to count. How do church planters measure success? Well, I can only speak for myself, but it depends on the day. I am finding that the results I keep track of are the things that seem to be going well at the particular time I am counting.
As we scramble around trying to build a church we are doing many things, but the most significant thing, it seems, has been us hosting a community group in our group for skeptics, doubters, and people with questions.
It is in this group, during the time that we take issues head on, that I am certain our most significant work is being done. After all, I have a chance to share the faith and deconstruct false ideas about what it means to have a relationship with Jesus. Surely it should be during this time where I am able to use my strengths, draw upon my seminary training and expect God to “join me” in my work
Guess what? That doesn’t seem to be the time where God is doing his most significant work.
This past week a dear friend, who happens to be a skeptic (in fact our most vocal skeptic) shared with me what he believed to be the most convincing argument for the truth of Christianity - he said it was the caring community he has witnessed and enjoyed with us. It was people being willing to help him when it was inconvenient for them to do so. It was people sharing their lives with him, warts and all.
He said what he has witnessed amongst these people is what he would call “a modern day miracle” – people loving and sharing with him just because he is a person, just like them, not because he shares their faith. He said what he has experienced is something for which he has no category.
WHAT? It isn’t my teaching?
I guess for me this is close to what Paul meant in 2 Cor 12:10, where he was reminded by God that it is not in his strength where God’s power is made perfect, but in his weakness.
Why is God so prone to use our weaknesses rather than our strengths to do his work? It is to remind us it is his work not ours. If my strengths are what build this church then I will likely steal God’s glory. By using my weaknesses God gets the glory. My friend is a perfect example of this, he hasn’t trusted Jesus as his savior and is not even sure what he thinks about God, but he is giving God the glory as he sees that there is no human explanation for the unnatural love he is experiencing.
I am so thankful for moments like this. The things God is using most in my friend’s life are hard to measure. But I am so thankful God has given me this friend to remind me, one who loves to be able to count and measure, that the work of God is often mysterious and unexpected. It is a reminder that God must be the one who builds this church, his church.
Psalm 127:1 tells us, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.”
This is God’s work. He cares more about this church plant, this city, these people than we ever will. Please pray that we would join the Lord in his work, rather than expecting him to join us in ours. Please pray that the Lord would continue to work in ways that make a skeptic think what is happening in our midst is a “modern day miracle”. Please pray that God will receive the glory for what is happening in here Boulder in and through this church plant!
Deb and I want to thank you for your interest in this church planting project. May the Lord receive the glory for all the work he does in you and us!