Archives For Plumblines

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PlumbLines-2

Pastors, I want to suggest to you that something you’ve been seeing as a problem is actually a great opportunity. That something—complaints.

You might think that complaining in churches is a new phenomenon, a product of our consumeristic, navel-gazing culture of narcissism. (And, to be sure, much of it is.) But in the first century church, Luke tells us, “A complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution” (Acts 6:1 ESV).

The early church leaders, unlike many of us, recognized the opportunity within the problem. So instead of merely attempting to troubleshoot everything themselves, the apostles turned the problem around. We see this problem, too, they said to the church. And what are you going to do about it? The apostles didn’t take care of the ministry problem for them. They turned it back to them. And in so doing, they catalyzed ministry in the church.

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PlumbLines-2

In 2005, almost by accident, The Summit Church moved to a multi-site strategy. We made the move because our worship services were full, and we had already multiplied the number of services to the breaking point. It’s the sort of “problem” any church would love to have! We learned on the fly, and over the past decade, we’ve been adjusting how we approach the multi-site model. As I’ve said before (and we’ve written extensively), we believe the multi-site model can be evangelistically effective, pastorally helpful, and biblically faithful. With nine campuses in Raleigh-Durham, (ten if you count our budding campus in Wake Correctional), it seems to be working.

There are, to be sure, bad ways of leading a multi-site church—just as there are a host of bad ways to lead a single-site church. So we constantly repeat one of our plumb lines to remind us of one of the key reasons why we do multi-site: stay where you are; serve where you live; be the church in your community.

Every now and then we will survey our congregation to find out, among other things, where people are driving from. It’s one of the key details we use in assessing areas for a potential new campus. When we see clusters of people driving from more than 20 minutes away (and past several other Summit campuses), we have two reactions: (1) we’re honored you love our church enough to make that drive; and (2) please stop it.

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PlumbLines-2

In the church I grew up in, “missionary” was a sacred and scary title, bestowed only upon the spiritual elite, the Navy Seals of the Christian world. We considered them heroes, sat in awe through their slideshows, and gladly donated our money to their ministries.

It was years later that I first realized that every Christian was a missionary, that all Christians were called to leverage their lives and talents for the kingdom. God’s calling into mission is not a separate call we receive years after our salvation; it is inherent in the very call to salvation. Every believer is given a spiritual gift and a role to play in the spread of the Great Commission. “Follow me,” Jesus said, “And I will make you fishers of men.” That’s for everyone, not just those who feel a special tingly feeling they interpret as the call of God, or those who see some message from heaven spelled out in the clouds. Too many Christians sit around waiting on a “voice” to tell them what God has already spelled out in a verse.

Another way to put it: The question is no longer if we are called to leverage our lives for the Great Commission; it’s only where and how.

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