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Plumb lines are a series of short, pithy statements that we, at the Summit, use as rallying points—both for our staff and for the entire church. They are a way to encapsulate our ministry philosophy in short, memorable phrases.

Plumb Line #9 at the Summit is: “The Church should reflect the diversity of its community and proclaim the diversity of the kingdom.”

Hardly anyone in the American church thinks that ethnic diversity is a bad thing. And yet, take a look at most of our churches, and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous criticism still has some bite to it: “Eleven o’clock on Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in America.” A mild desire to see diversity isn’t going to create multi-ethnic diversity in our churches. For diversity to truly take hold, it takes intentionality.

One of our African American pastors, Chris Green, has summarized the process of a church becoming multi-ethnic in a helpful spectrum:

IGNORANCE – AWARENESS – INTERACTION – GOSPELIZED COMMUNITY

We all start on the left, with ignorance. Most of us grow up around people like us, we work with people like us, and we socialize with people like us. We aren’t willfully hateful, but we simply don’t know much about people from different backgrounds. So we—especially those of us in the majority culture—fill in the gaps with presuppositions and stereotypes. We assume that “black people” or “Hispanic people” all think, act, or feel a certain way.

Admitting our ignorance leads us to the next step along the spectrum—awareness. Perhaps we watch something on the news, or make a new friend, or have some personal experience that forces us to recognize cultural differences. Awareness is unsettling, because it challenges a lot of what we assumed was simply “normal.”

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Plumb lines are a series of short, pithy statements that we, at the Summit, use as rallying points—both for our staff and for the entire church. They are a way to encapsulate our ministry philosophy in short, memorable phrases.

Plumb Line #8 at the Summit is: “Where trust exists, God moves.”

The Gospel of Luke records one of the most theologically bizarre stories in the entire Bible. As Jesus is walking through a crowd, a woman who needs healing comes up behind him and stealthily touches the hem of his garment. Instantly she’s healed. But Jesus doesn’t seem to know all the details. He even asks his disciples who touched him, because, as he puts it, “I perceive that power has gone out from me” (Luke 8:46).

Here’s what amazes me about that passage: Jesus talks about his healing power as if it were a reflex that he can’t control. It seems like an involuntary response generated by the woman’s faith. If you’re a theologian, that’s got to bother you. Aren’t we talking about God here, who knows the end from the beginning? Does he really mean to imply that this woman surprised him?

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This is what he showed me:
The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb,
with a plumb line in his hand.
–Amos 7:7

Plumb lines are a series of short, pithy statements that we, at the Summit, use as rallying points—both for our staff and for the entire church. They are a way to encapsulate our theology and philosophy in short, memorable phrases. These sixteen statements form the core of our DNA as a church.

1. The gospel is not just the diving board; it’s the pool.
2. We judge our success by sending capacity, not seating capacity.
3. The church is not an audience; it’s an army.
4. People are the mission.
5. Prayer comes first. And second. And third.
6. Live sufficiently, give extravagantly.
7. The local church is God’s “Plan A.”
8. Where trust exists, God moves.
9. The Church should reflect the diversity of its community and declare the diversity of the Kingdom.
10. Stay where you are, serve where you live, be the church in your community.
11. Discipleship happens in relationships.
12. The best ministry ideas are in the congregation.
13. We are led by the Spirit, taught by the Word.
14. When life cuts us, we want to bleed God’s Word.
15. The 1 takes priority over the 99.
16. The question is no longer if you’re called; it’s only where and how.

If you’re curious to see some of our past “plumb lines” (some of which stayed the course and others of which were laid to rest), check out this post from 2011: 35 Values I Wished I Had Possessed When I Started Pastoring 10 Years Ago.