Archives For Plumblines

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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.

The following coincides with a book I am releasing this August, called Gaining by Losing: Why the Future Belongs to Churches that Send, in which I talk about how to engineer your church or Christian organization for effective multiplication and sending. Sending capacity, not seating capacity, should define a church’s “success” in mission! If you are interested, check-out or pre-order here!


Jesus’ vision of the church was not a group of people gathered around one anointed leader, but multiple leaders going out in the power of the Spirit. It’s a claim that very few of us take seriously: Jesus literally said that that a multiplicity of Spirit-filled leaders would be greater than his earthly, bodily presence (John 14:12).

Can you imagine the power of a church in which ordinary members know what it means to be filled with the Spirit of God and led by the Spirit of God? God’s plan to glorify himself in the church never consisted of platformed megapastors, cutting edge art, or expensive buildings. There’s nothing wrong with any of those things in themselves, but the real power in the church is found the Holy Spirit moving through ordinary people as they carry his presence into the streets.

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This is the last of a four-part series on local outreach. We’re sharing the ten “plumb lines” that guide our local outreach philosophy, as explained by Matt Mig, our Pastor of Local Outreach. Be sure to also read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

9. The Best Way To Avoid Paternalism Is To Seek Friendship.

Paternalism happens when someone who has authority or resources restricts the responsibility or choice of another person in the perceived “best interests” of that second individual.  It is the result of defining our neighbors by their situation or need instead of by God’s design for them.  These unhealthy relationships can occur when we enter into potentially positive relationships like mentoring or coaching without valuing the other person, and even a well-meaning church can accidentally fall into this trap when working with people in material need.

In the book Toxic Charity, Bob Lupton describes the shame and embarrassment an unemployed father feels when materially rich church members provide gifts to his children that he can’t afford and the dependency that misguided aid can create in entire communities.  Paternalistic attitudes often result in services that temporarily alleviate material need, but do nothing to help someone discover who God created them to be.

We’re all susceptible to this trap:  it is the “default setting” for prideful people who happen to have more of something than the person next to them.  We must actively try to befriend our incarcerated or homeless neighbors. It won’t just happen on its own. Building relationships of real equality between people of unequal power isn’t easy, but there are a few habits we can develop that can help us to avoid the trap:

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