I am pastoring a church plant in under-churched Portland, Oregon. Here are three things I learned in my first year.
1. We bring assumptions, DNA and personal definitions.
“Pastor, I had never experienced our mission till I saw my co-worker responding to a baptism call.” It had been 7 months since this 27 year old, 2nd generation PK Adventist, had been a part of the church plant’s core and she was finally understanding the mission. I’m learning that pastors and members bring to church plants 3 things: assumptions, DNA and personal definitions. Being aware of our assumptions can help us understand each other better and facilitate mission. Each one of us brings to the church plant a portion of our previous church DNA. Some of that DNA may be good to perpetuate while some can be harmful to keep around. It is important to identify what to keep and what to get rid of right now. Success, sacrifice, and excellence can be described in very personal, different ways. I’m learning that the more specific we are about our definitions the more accurate we are in setting goals.
2. Collaboration leads to multiplication
Instead of looking at the church we rent from as landlords or rivals, we see them as partners in ministry. The Discovery Church and their pastor Dan Snavely have been instrumental in helping our church plant grow. They believe that by helping our church plant they’re investing in God’s Kingdom. In the last few months we’ve had 10 baptisms-most of them young adults committing their lives to Christ. Our collaboration has led to multiplication from averaging 30 in attendance to almost 100 in the last few weeks.
3. Excellence is a good core value – for most
As I visited this 25 year old guy I noticed his tattoos. There was also a big smile on his face as he told me, “I have been overwhelmed with the desire to raise my voice and praise Jesus. I’m counting the days to next Sabbath”. But I heard another view from an Adventist brother: “The service is a show.” It almost seemed that the excellence in music, lights and graphics made it a show. Clearly, two people can participate of the same service and experience different things. Yet excellence was a core value in the Old Testament sanctuary and the temple. If everything exalts Christ and presents the Gospel, it should be excellent. Even if some don’t think so.