Church Zero by Peyton Jones
An ebook that was free for a short time through davidccook.org that I decided to download on a whim. It sounded interesting. I've always like to see what people think is the problem with the modern church. People blame so many things; the congregation, the pastors, the facilities, the music, the chosen denomination, the list goes on.
I'd been wondering much the same myself. My home church has been scratching their collective heads about it for a while. We have a lot of good things going. We have four incredible pastors who works their butts off to lead us.
We have a set-up that allows for individual care through small groups headed by two individuals (a shepherd and apprentice shepherd) who are in turn headed by mentors who answer to our pastor in charge of adults ministry (he is a totally awesome guy who can preach the entire Bible in one sermon) . It's a good system that is based on the setup God gave Moses so that all of the people of Israel could be taken care of without killing Moses do to the non-stop care the people needed.
We have a great Children's Minister who is passionate about reaching children and a Youth Pastor who never ceases to impress me. We even have a pastor dedicated to Life Care, meaning counselling the hurting!
But we are still missing something and I couldn't put my finger on it. Then I read Church Zero.
And there it was.
My church as well as the modern church as a whole have been focused on growing up, not out. We are so focused on bringing people in, we forgot that our job is to go OUT and reach those who have never heard Jesus's name or only heard it in passing. We are supposed to bring the Gospel to them and that usually means one thing: CHURCH PLANTING.
Peyton explained it in a later chapter in the book as such:
"Churches should be like Mogwai. Multiplication is hardwired into their DNA, all you have to do is accidentally spill water on them and they pop out five more furry church plant balls."
So what happened?
According to Peyton, we have lost sight of what Luke penned in Acts. This church was growing out through various apostles (with a little a, as in not the original Twelve picked by Jesus, but Paul, Timothy, Titus and others like them) rather than up like today's megachurches. Granted, Jerusalem had a megachurch but it was constantly sending out people to reach those who hadn't heard the Good News.
In other words, yes we need to get people in the Church, but we must also prepare those that accept Christ to do His work, which often means leaving to start new churches. We've focused so much on Shepherds and Teachers, the ones that stay put, we have forgotten, by ignorance or willful omission, the Little a- Apostles, the Prophets and the Evangelists of Ephesians 4:11-12.
This was very challenging to me personally as well as in regard to my home church. I did have some consultation though. Whether we were aware of it or not, my church family is led by most of that fabulous five. I don't know if we have all of them, but we have most. We are also not afraid to try new things for the sake of reaching more people for Christ. We have helped plant a church in an area that needed one. But are we doing enough to grow out?
I'm still trying to take all this in. It's incredible to think about. How many time have I read that passage and missed it? How many times have pastors done this same thing?
I'm still praying about all this, seeking God's wisdom in the face of this information. But I can say is this:
I'm not the same as I was before I read this. My perspective has changed drastically. The Modern Church is content to hold its ground when Jesus told us to gain ground for the Kingdom.
I am no longer content to stay in the trenches.