Real Church for Real People

Church planting is never definite.

I mean, hopefully the church that is planted is definite.  But a major part of church planting is change.  Actually, a major part of effective ministry is change.  I’ve learned that.  What was church planting in the late 1990s is now an archaic and ineffective thing.  I’m not being harsh or judgmental; it’s the truth.  That is why church planting books, conferences, and planter themselves constantly talk about new methods.  The message never changes, but the methods must change.

That’s a completely different blog post, though.  What I’m really saying is that I have experienced a ton of change while planting Middlepoint Christian Church in Middlesboro, KY.  My wife and I moved here, not knowing anyone in the city, and said, “Let’s start a church.”  I looked at all the other church planters I knew and all of their experiences.  I learned a lot from them.  I found out methods and ways to do things.  Then, I started to slowly implement it in Middlesboro.  Funny thing happened, though.  It didn’t work.  I mean, some things did.  But a lot of it didn’t.  I was confused, crushed, perplexed, and a bit discouraged.

I hit failure, face-to-face.

It was weird.  Let me rephrase that: It is weird.  Church planting is not definite.  I’ve readjusted, retooled, rethought, and just about any other re- word you can think of in Middlesboro.  But let me be clear: We haven’t failed.  In fact, Middlepoint is quite the opposite; we’re very much alive.  We’re very real.

Things have happened, some things didn’t work, other things did work, and here we are.  We have rejoiced, cried, been encouraged, been discouraged, stood on the mountaintops and trudged through the valleys.

Church planting is not definite.  We didn’t stay on the mountaintop, nor did we stay in the valley.  We didn’t stay discouraged, and we didn’t remain encouraged.  It happens, and we embrace it.

I said earlier that Middlepoint has become very real.  This is sometimes met with a negative connotation.  I’m not sure why, though.  We’re a real church.  This means that we look to Jesus every single day, because we know that each day brings enough “stuff” on its own.  Without Jesus, we are nothing.  We’re made up of real people, walking with a real Jesus, in a real world.

Simply put, we’re a real church for real people.

This is, for a lack of a better term, our motto.

We’re a real church for people who are hurting, who have problems, doubts, and fears.  We’re a church that embraces the “luggage” the people carry with them.  We celebrate and rejoice, and we also cry and be silent.  We’re a church for people who, just maybe, don’t know where to turn.  We’re a church for people who have given up on church, or have been out of church for so long that they don’t know where to even begin to get involved again.  We’re a church for people who searching, and also people who have found something that they just can’t keep quiet about.  We’re a church for, you know, real people.

Simply put, we’re a real church for real people.

We realize that Jesus was around real people all the time.  The sick, hurting, dying, lame, separated, sin-covered, and stained were the crowds that surrounded Jesus.  Jesus extended grace and mercy to them, while being the truth of God.  He ate with sinners, people who had no one else but themselves.  Jesus was around real people, and so are we.

Why should we, as a church, be any different?  We walk closely with Jesus, so we do what Jesus did.

Simply put, we’re a real church for real people.

If you’re in Middlesboro, KY, or in Bell County and this is something you want to know more about or even join up with, visit our website at middlepoint.org.  There, you can find out more about the church, contact us, or join our Launch Team.

After all, we are a real church for real people.

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The Space In Between (Literally)

I listen to a few church leaders on a regular basis.  As a church leader myself, I feel like this is important.  I pay attention to their style, their content, and how they structure their messages.  I’ve learned a lot from them.  One guy is Jon Weece, the Lead Follower at Southland Christian Church in Lexington, KY.  He is a calm speaker, very conversational, and his messages are simple.  I love that.  Another guy I listen to is Andy Stanley, the founder and primary communicator of North Point Community Church near Atlanta, GA.  He has very practical messages that reach every person in the room, Christian or not.  He has a gift for doing this.  This is why many non-Christians come to North Point every weekend…and then come back the next weekend.  They (North Point) started a church that unchurched people love to attend.  And they did just that.

I follow both of these guys on Twitter.  If you’re not on Twitter, then good for you.  It can be addicting and, just like other social media sites, a person can get caught up in pointless arguments.  Jon Weece doesn’t really engage his haters on Twitter, which I respect.  Andy Stanley will occasionally do it, but he makes a joke out of it (which can be viewed as a good thing or bad thing — regardless, I find it hilarious).  Just occasionally, though, I see a tweet directed towards Andy (which spawns multiple other tweets from other Stanley haters) that I just marvel at.  The line of thinking of some of these guys I just don’t get.  In fact, this happened just yesterday.

I was scrolling through Twitter yesterday afternoon, and I found that Andy had tweeted this:

Simple, right?  Then I saw this tweet, also in Andy’s timeline:

Hmm.  A non-religious and agnostic person decided to compliment Andy Stanley on his speaking.  Mind you, Andy doesn’t cover up Jesus.  As a matter of fact, he is very open about his agenda and North Point’s agenda: To lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.  He is, as he should be, pointing everyone he can towards Jesus.  So, he is obviously grateful when a person who is unchurched and non-Christian says that they appreciate these Jesus-filled messages.  But apparently @RJKelly1 isn’t.  I checked out his Twitter page and read his bio, which says: “Minister of Jesus Christ.  He saved me from my sins & will save anyone who believes & asks. All entries are my opinion. All rights reserved.”

Wait…what?  I tried to figure this out.  On one hand, it seems that RJ is trying to get this lady to see God.  But by raining on her compliment towards Andy, who is already telling her about Jesus?

I know what some people might say.  She needs to know that God’s awesome, right?  She’s so misguided, correct?  It’s our job as Christians to correct her, amen?

Nope.  I’m not sure when this mindset crept into the church, but it’s damaging.  We’ve taken the redemption that Jesus offers everyone and turned it into a tool to manufacture people who think the same, look the same, vote the same, etc.  See where I’m going with this?

As a church planter, I get this leveled against me by people who have never met me.  I’m “watering down the gospel” or “avoiding the truth” about God.  Why is this said?  Because some people in the church today think that there are only two options for people: A person must be 100% “in” or 100% “out”.  I’m not sure what that means, either, but some have built a theology around it.

This is why it bothers those people that Andy has a church that unchurched people loved to attend.  Simply put, there are people in the middle.  There are people who don’t like who they are, but they are terrified of totally surrendering to Jesus.  So Andy and North Point welcomes them and invites them to do this, one step at a time.  It’s a safe place for them.

This is why the “safe place” mentality is part of the DNA at Middlepoint Christian Church, our church plant in Middlesboro.  There are thousands of people in our city that have encountered too many people like RJ in some churches.  This is why they don’t go, turn off any inclination towards Jesus, and write off the entire church as a whole.  That bothers me.  Deeply.

There are people in the space in between their “old” life and Jesus.  Maybe @CC_Denham is, so she listens to Andy Stanley to find out more about Jesus.  She knows that Jesus is full of truth (which RJ loves), but Jesus is also full of grace.  That’s important.

If I were honest with you, I’d rather have people like @CC_Denham come to my church.

By the way, here’s the response the @CC_Denham came to after interacting with people like RJ:

Remember the people in the space in between.

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