People at Substance are always asking me: “Peter, where did you fly this last week?” And I love to talk about it because: Much of the coolest ministry that Substance does happens outside of the Twin Cities. And even though this fruit isn’t as visible as the stuff that happens locally, it’s nonetheless powerful to reflect on. After all, this is YOUR fruit. You guys enable me to spearhead incredible initiatives that go far beyond our city.
For example, last week I was speaking about the power of church planting at a college in San Jose CA. – then I spoke at a sister church in Madison Wi. This next weekend I’m speaking at the Equip Conference for the Assemblies of God denomination. But today I’m flying to Baton Rouge LA for my favorite conference all year: All Access 2011. I’ve been practicing in the mirror – so I’ve been trying to talk like Ryan Seacrest all week. (but I’m afraid that my hair is just too big & messy to draw any similarities.)
But really, what I’m looking forward to most: I love seeing all of my friends and mentors. The most fruitful pastors in the U.S. are going to be there with me. At one point, I picked my pastor’s conferences based on: “Who has the best worship… teachings… etc.” But, now that I’m less consumeristic, my criteria has changed a bit. I want to be around the pastors who are actually changing the world… not pretending to change the world …(& I realize that sounds a bit saucy; but, there are Alot of pastors who are really more committed to our theological and worship traditions more than bearing fruit for God). I know that it sounds like a cynical critique; but, my motive is good. I just want to bear fruit for God.
Over the years I”ve been in a lot of churches that rant about how they have the best theology… or best worship…etc. (I mean, they won’t actually say it, but the spirit of the place exudes it.) That’s why Jesus went out of his way to say: “Judge a tree [aka., a leader] by their fruit” (as opposed to judging a church or movement by it’s worship format or its similarities to our theological preferences). You see, Jesus simply didn’t worship the same way the Pharisee’s did (who were the predominant definition of an “anointed lifestyle” at the time). That’s why some many people had a hard time seeing Jesus as the son of God because: He simply didn’t fit the mold people were looking for. He was a practitioner. Jesus relaunched an approach to God that made sense to the average person… I.e., a tradition that “bears fruit.”
I think that’s why I like conferences based around church planters because: (1). Church planters can’t afford to have lame or elitist models of church. If they do, they’ll die very quickly. (2). Church planters tend to be outreach oriented by nature. Once again, if they aren’t, they’ll die very quickly. But lastly, Church planters tend to be optimists. They believe it’s “easier to have babies than it is to raise the dead.” And, in many ways, their conversations reflect that innocence. I’ve been to conferences that spend all their time talking about Christian debates or getting submerged in church politics. YUCK!!!!! I don’t know about you but I want to hang out with people who talk about their most recent “drug dealing convert.”
So, as the Substance staff serves church planters this week, be praying for us. God is turning our tiny little church into a movement. There are pastors who are desperate for a touch from God. So let’s pray that they get what they’re looking for! (myself included!)