Elsewhere, I have railed against rogue ordinations, the ordaining of people who exhibit entrepreneurial skills sufficient to generate a “church-in-the-black” but not necessarily the character of servanthood necessary, or the depth of discipleship vital to live and lead among a people of God. And yet how are we to survive starting churches any other way? In a post-Christian culture, where a.) consumerism, b.) enslavement to big house mortgage, two cars, c.) commitment to the over-achievement for our children so they can compete in the marketplace, robs so many of us from being able to make the church the social center of our lives. How are we to start churches that don’t turn into consumerist businesses that distribute religious goods and services as George Hunsberger has so brilliantly described? It would seem entrepreneurship and lack of a serious call to discipleship might be the key traits of a pastor who could succeed in starting a church in this environment.
To this I merely suggest that to start churches, living communities of fellowship in Christ amidst the post-Christian cultures, we must have multiple leadership, bi-vocational leadership and servant leadership schooled in mutual submission one to another. Dwight Smith is one of many who have got on board with all this. Jordon Cooper, Bill Kinnon and other Canadian friends (I call all Canadians my friends because I was raised there in my childhood and early teenage years) are invigorating the discussion. This approach that I am proposing and seen lived in our own church plant starts with multiple men/women who have ministry talents all getting jobs in a community where they can get health insurance (important to us in the U.S.). Starbuck’s is a favorite place of employment for this where quality health insurance can be had for twenty hours of work a week. And Starbuck’s is a great place to meet and talk with people. Mike Clawson is the latest person I know around Chicagoland to begin this route. Instead of one person getting paid the bulk of church-plant funds, the funds are spread out. We have three, maybe four “pastors” working in the community meeting people. We continually invite other leaders/people gifted in ministry to join us whether we can pay them anything or not. When the ministry of somone grows among us, and we need to make room for them to increase their ministry among us, and we have some money, we help by paying them if we can. The pastorship grows, and provides leadership for the next church plant. There is a comradeship among us that supports us through the lean years it will take to establish a true community that in any way can resist the “ism’s” that barrage our church and keep us from forming our communal practices together. We spread the work load, we find and discover our greatest gifts and support one another in our weaker ones which need development. Most importantly, we purge ourselves of the success syndrome, that need to be an entrepreneurial success which can keep the church from being a true community, as well as infest our character with controlling, egotistical traits which undercut the very “ministry of Christ.”
All this I talk at length about in the Great Giveaway ch. 3.