I must admit from the beginning, this plant is being birthed and forced from many resevoirs of emotions and convictions. A move like this does not come after reading a book, or hearing an inspiring sermon. Although I can not deny the influence that these may have had on my decision. I must thank my lovely wife Tiffany for all the nights she has listened to me struggle, explain, search and try to discover what God was doing in our lives.
trying to reduce this kind of thing to several, simple ideas is crazy, but here it goes.
1. Grace. I experienced a grace awakening my senior year in college. This was approximately 10 years ago. Since that time, I have ministered in a context where legalism was rarely recognized, much less exposed or confronted. This, of course, is with the exception of the time I spent at the Landmark Church of Christ and the Montomgery Inner City Ministry. (My present ministry location is on the journey. It is painful, but it is on the pathway.) Although the leadership of these two communities were firmly rooted in the gospel of grace, my affiliation with the churches of Christ still kept me in close contact with those who were either promoting and nurturing legalism or unfortunately, found themselves wounded by it.
In an effort to be faithful to my context, one of the major emphasis of my ministry for the past ten years has been in the area of deconstructing legalism and reconstructing a grace oriented approach to relationship with God. A sort of grass roots reformer in the Church of Christ you could say. ( I unduly flatter myself by saying this.)
I am thankful for the victories I have seen and the lives I have witnessed that have been touched and transformed by the grace of God. This has brought me great joy and satisfaction. I feel that I have been faithful to the message regardless of what the consequences were. God has been faithful to me throughout my entire journey. At the same time, I would be dishonest if I did not mention the frustration and the fatigue that I harbor within me because of these battles. They say frustration is the passion of learning. Through my frustration, I have learned that it is better to build a new foundation than to deconstruct and build upon someone else's. Romans 15:20
I am entering into a new season of ministry. One of laying foundations, and not deconstruction. This translates into planting churches for me. I love my heritage and all the great things it has built within me. I am not rejecting our heritage. But I will not idolize, guard or promote a heritage. I realize that every movement is conditioned by its cultural context, and that to blind myself to this would make me vulnerable to the same faults that our heritage adopted. But this does not disqualify efforts to begin a movement that will seek to dethrone tradition, critique culture, and passionatley engage the mission of God. I want to be a part of a church planting movement that seeks to be culturally relevant while holding to the core truths of scripture. For me, this can only be done by pouring new wine into new wineskins.
While the above statements do not take center stage, they are supporting roles in this decision. They do not make up the entire foundation of my decision, but they do function as under currents, gently guiding and reaffirming God's call on my life to plant churches.