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April 06, 2008

THE INSIDER AND THE PASTOR

“FOCUS ON WHO YOU’RE TRYING TO REACH NOT WHO YOU’RE TRYING TO KEEP” – ANDY STANLEY.

This quote by Andy Stanley changed the way I saw church planting. As I was discussing this a few months ago with our pastoral staff – a heated debate was running in my mind. We knew that if we go this route we would be experiencing criticisms. It was a PARADIGM SHIFT OF GIGANTIC PROPORTIONS.

One of the things we want to avoid as a church is to be insider focused. If you are surrounded long enough by people who think like you think, you will become more certain that’s the best way to think.

I remember early on in our church plant in Greenhills, we were in a state of identity crisis. We were not sure (thanks to me) who we wanted to reach. We were saying one thing but doing another thing. Case in point was during one of our December service, I came to church in barong and we rented a place not suitable for the people we are reaching out to. After the service we even considered moving our church in that place. I remember a lot of church people who we truly love and were as clueless as we are suggesting we continue our worship there. We almost booked the place! BUT THANKS BE TO GOD who has other plans. Sure the place looks great and sure the place would attract a lot of people BUT we knew it wasn’t the season for us to be moving in that place for the ff reasons:

1. It would likely attract more church people and would add to the current transfer growth we see in church statistics today.
2. It wasn’t the place to attract who we wanted. We wanted a young church! The place would not be as attractive to people in the 13-40 age window.
3. We did have a lot of people telling us it would be a great move but I was glad to have a team that does not hesitate to say what’s in their mind. I remember one of the pastor telling me “The place looks nice but this is not it!” If we were to attract the lost people

Some of us have been in church for so long, we have forgotten how it is to be an OUTSIDER. Our church is planted with the outsiders in mind. Metro Manila didn’t need another church. We are surrounded with hundreds of churches within the area but still a lot of people in San Juan are not going to church. So we made it a goal not to reach those who were already going to church but to reach everyone else.

Is our church seeker sensitive? No, but is seeker intellective (if there is such a word). The church should continue to be the voice of God, preaching the infallible Word of God and engaging culture with the gospel. It means we strive hard to make the WORD OF GOD relevant and life changing that it doesn’t just make people reform on conform to Christian culture but that every person is transformed by the power of God’s presence and His word.

It means having a deep reverence for the Word and devouring it like there is no other book in the word. It is having the right theology that would build the foundation of the new believers. It means giving Christians who are already in church a platform to serve the world by teaching them the Bible that pushes them to serve the world so that the church may be built up (ephesians 4:20)

in conclusion:

If changing the world requires us to preach lively on stage to engage the people with the gospel then we must do it! If it requires us to die to ourselves (ego, pride, insecurities), so be it. If it entails criticism then bring it on. If it requires CHANGE which we all hate, help us God to be humble enough to say Lord not my will but your will be done. If it means giving in to some better suggestions on how to win the lost then let us concede.

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