About three or four weeks ago now, I finished writing my last paper of the semester, packed up enough crap to keep me clothed for a couple weeks and headed south. I got to Tulsa twelve hours later, ate dinner, slept, woke back up and kept going south. Finally another 4.5 hours later I got to the Big D--Dallas, well, Flower Mound/Highland Village really, but that's neither here nor there.
Back around the beginning of the semester, I started podcasting a guy named Matt Chandler at the suggestion, via podcast, of Mark Driscoll. Throughout the semester I listened to Chandler during sleepless nights, when I should have been studying or while I was on the treadmill. Always was I fed, rarely I didn't laugh, and I always heard the Gospel. I also heard a desire to plant more churches in the Dallas area. Since that was place I was already praying about and hearing Chandler's story how he got to The Village and it's incredible growth since he got there, I knew I wanted to get some face time with the guy.
Generously, Matt agreed to sit down with me and gave me around an hour and a quarter of his time. We talked about his "burnout," the church's structure, ministering to people "inoculated by the Gospel," and when we might be able to plant another church in Dallas. When I got back into my car, I jotted down a few notes before I forgot anymore than I already had. Here's what I got:
- Everything falls into the vision of the church. If it doesn't, don't do it. Negatively: There are going to be a lot of people that want a lot of different stuff done. That doesn't mean you have to do it. Positively: Integrate everything into your vision. So if you run on a small group model, run on the small group model.
- Put it in writing. Both Driscoll and Matt emphasize this. If you plan on doing something, it needs to be in writing. I've found this to be true just with the daily grind, how much more should we be planning out the big stuff for our lives, ministries and churches.
- Conflict management and Staff Communication. There are going to be issues, prepare for them, deal with them and get over them.
- Integration. This could be included in the vision category above. I found it incredibly smart the way The Village's missions are set up. All their Compassion kids are in Guatemala, so if you want to meet your kid, there are two trips there a year. They support missions in China; if you sent money there to build that school, you can take one of six trips there a year. Further, partnering not just with ministries (para-churches), but with churches in mission areas.
- The unabashed preaching of the Gospel. What I have heard in the great preachers that I regularly listen to is the continual unashamed, unprotected, unprocessed preaching of the Gospel. John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Tim Keller, and Matt Chandler all preach the Gospel in a way rarely heard today. This is what is going to change people's lives, the community and the world.
*Note: The above picture is not Matt Chandler and was used without permission, originally found at http://flickr.com/photos/latitudes/274509499/