If preparations go well this summer, together we will launch a weekly service in the Hilliard community beginning Sept. 13, 2015! After years of embracing and building the Dublin community, Hilliard folks will be able to more effectively engage the many friends and acquaintances that we have intentionally prayed for and met over the past few years.
Starting anything new requires change for everyone, and change is rarely welcome. In fact, sometimes we hate change. I’ve heard plenty of people say, “I hate change,” and frankly, most of us at least have certain changes we hate. Like how our eyesight “changes” as we get older (among other things!). And I hate pennies, but that’s a different kind of change all together… The Hilliard launch is going to cause change and here are four things you might hate about it:
1. You won’t see certain friends as often
That’s true. It’s also true of churches that start new services at the same place — you lose touch with half the people you used to attend with. It’s hard. Whenever churches are heathy, they grow, and when things grow they get bigger, and when things get bigger they don’t fit in the same spaces anymore. So churches do one of really only four things: 1) start new things in new places; 2) start new services in the same place; 3) build a bigger place, or 4) do nothing and strangle continued growth. With the exception of the unhealthy choice of #4, all other options require followers of Jesus to have a higher priority than retaining all of our friendships. Friends are critically important. We need them to be and do all that God calls us to be and do. But when God calls us to go to a new place for His sake, good friends sacrifice their own comfort, and choose to do all they can to help their friend follow God’s call on their life. And it is my experience that although proximity with those friends is reduced or extinguished, those friendships remain some of the best I have because we’re sacrificing for something bigger than us. Don’t hate the church or your friends for following God…enjoy the deeper bond and meaning of being on mission together.
2. Your tithe is leaving Your local community
That’s a pretty common and understandable concern. You would naturally expect the tithes and offerings you give to impact your space, your family and your community, not the next community over. At Vista, we run one budget, and each site gives and shares the resources proportionately. Only about 5% goes to new site launches, but even the new launch contributes to that portion of the budget. The beauty of this design is that certain resourcing proportions that are average/normal to a larger site are monumentally valuable for the smaller or start-up site. In fact, some resources would be impossible for a small church to enjoy without the support/sharing of the whole. But there’s a deeper issue here with respect to whose resources we’re using (tithing) in the first place.
The typical view is that we give back a portion of what’s been given to us by God (a tithe usually). The Old Testament defines a tithe as 10%. The American tithing average is 2.5%…some give 0%. Irrespective of where you fall within that range, we tend to operate with the understanding that “what I give to the church is God’s and the rest is mine.” That’s not Jesus’ view. Jesus sets the bar high when he says that everything God’s blessed us with remains God’s, and that which He’s put within our power is to manage and utilize for His purposes. We understand that purpose to be missional. We understand that all that God has given the church (you and me) is to reach those who are least and lost…who are far from God and eternally bound for hell without the good news Jesus has entrusted us to get to them. Most of the resources you entrust to Vista stays in your space. Don’t hate that we’re sending some to the Gospel’s Edge; be excited about how your resources and sacrifice are keeping and enabling your church to keep going where God leads us for the sake of many lost souls finding their way back to God.
3. You won’t see Pastor Mike as much
As you probably know, this one’s kinda weird for me. I was never intended to be the primary communicator at Vista…I’m the operations guy, the architect, the strategist, the introvert, for crying out loud! But, I’ve come to understand and accept that I bring unanticipated value to Vista from the platform, and that some of you don’t like the idea of losing me in that space. True, it will be impossible for me to be “live” at all three Communities come September. But here’s the deal: whether you like it or not, we are not about a man and a church, we are about the Man and His Church. We are not about our comfort, security, familiarity or style, but we are about following Jesus and any means necessary to make disciples of all nations (and communities). We cannot make decisions based on securing what we like, but upon what we are willing to sacrifice for what Jesus likes. And Jesus likes (no, he loves) the lost. He’s commissioned his church to go and gather the lost. Everything and everyone (including me) is subordinate to His mission. Furthermore, we are called to multiply. If you’re not already, you should be helping someone help you in ministry. Helping others grow and take on new responsibilities and sometimes to take your place so that you can move where God is growing and calling you next. And that goes for me, too. We can’t champion multiplication only in certain places and not others. Just like you must help train and develop others, so must I.
4. You’ll be watching a video on occassion
I get this. There can be something that “feels” not quite right about video verses live preaching. I wonder if they felt that way when amplification made it possible to expand a room or fill a bigger room? Probably. Technical advancements have always been challenging for the church. Even when the printing press (maybe the most significant technical advancement for the church) started putting the Bible in more “average people’s” hands, theological scholars thought it was dangerous, opening up the threat of poor interpretation and handling of Scripture by the amateur.
My difficulty with video falls in line with the issue just above: “We won’t see Mike as much.” I continue to fail to see what’s so important about me. Aren’t there others to whom God has given something to say and gifted them to do so? Yes. But I’ve also come to understand and accept that God’s gifted me in ways I shouldn’t deny, and that He’s given me a role that I need to continue to faithfully embrace. In an effort to find a balance, we’ve landed on a routine that keeps me in my primary gift/role, affords room for multiplication of preachers, while accepting and utilizing technology in moderation. It’s a four-week rotation that results in every site seeing me live twice; watching me on video once, and a teaching team preacher live once. That puts me in front of the congregation 40 times per year and providing space for others about 12 times per year – which has been our practice most years.
Don’t be a hater, be a lover of what God’s doing! And view change as the lofty challenge of keeping the church relevant and moving forward to the Gospel’s Edge toward which we are called.