Yesterday I spent most of day in the Brickell area. I led a Bible study, met with a core group member, met with my staff, a local community group leader and a music industry executive. In between the meetings I shook hands with city counsel members, introduced myself to a few local professionals and checked on the local real estate.
When we set out to start the Brickell site a month and a half ago, I confess that the attitude was one of launching a campus that looked and moved exactly like our main Pinecrest location. A few weeks into the gig my wife and I looked at each other while driving our way up for the Sunday night gathering and, in an unspoken way agreed that we have seen this movie before. The movie title is "church planting strikes back." If counted as a plant, this will be our fourth experience. Which means that by now we should have learned that church planting in order to be effective needs to be (3 things).
1. Missional. It has to operate out of need. You and your people have to know this and constantly be reminded that a church in that location is crucial for that area's gospel transformation. You and your team have to be reminded of this during the hardships that a church will always face. Without it (this sense of need to be missional) discouragement can easily creep in and destroy the vision. You and your people have to have a larger sense of purpose for being there other than just to grow your "enterprise." So, mission comes first.
2. Incarnational. One of the "duh" moments for me lately has been the "- of course they are a different crowd!" A few weeks in I've noticed that the people that live in Brickell operate differently than our South Miami/ Pinecrest/ Kendall crowd and because this is true, they respond differently. I have been reminded that there's always a need to adjust to the group you're trying to reach. This is called contextualization, and contextualization always follows mission.
3. Personal/ Relational. Call it one these two. Yesterday I was reminded that my team and I have to spend more time in Brickell with the people of Brickell. It's only through face to face time that you're able to contextualize the ministry to the people you're trying to reach. Through introductions and conversations you will see, taste and hear the sounds of their spiritual groanings and moanings. First, it's necessary to assess in order for you to address.
None of what I'm reminding you of in this post comes out of leadership books or church planting manuals alone. Look at the meta-narrative of Scripture and you will see God moving to our rescue in this exact fashion. In it, we see that the need of redemption propelled Jesus to identify with us sinners and to accommodate the language of salvation in a way that sinners would understand and respond.