A couple of weeks ago, I wrapped up two weeks of teaching at Lakeview Bible College and Seminary in Chennai, India. I was invited to come as a guest professor to teach on church ministry and leadership.
Usually, those kind of gigs are reserved for the experts.
Clearly, I’m no expert.
The church world is full of successful ministry models. The seeker-sensitive model. The purpose-driven model. The pastor-centric model. The missional model. The small-group church model. The multi-site model. The family-church model. The we’re-gonna-get-big-at-any-cost model.
And there are tons of successful big-dog, pastor-leader-teacher experts out there.
Then there’s me. And the North Point model.
Yeah. That model.
I’m still working on a name for it.
So far, the best one I can come up with is the “we-don’t-know-what-we’re-doing-but-we’re-having-fun-doing-it” model.
When the Farraclan came to Texas 19 years ago, I came to do youth ministry. I had a lot of experience in church leadership and church growth and church politics, but the one thing I really knew…the one thing I was comfortable with…the one thing that made sense to me as a Kingdom worker was youth ministry.
So when my best friends asked me to step up and assume the head pastor-leader role in our church family a few years ago, I politely declined the request. “Are you guys crazy? This is a sure-fire recipe for disaster!”
My theology and my methods and my personality and my rule-bending and my frustration with church politics were always easily camouflaged in youth ministry. As long as kids were coming and learning about the love of Jesus and submitting to Kingdom principles and practice, everybody was happy. And nobody asked questions.
But moving to the lead-dog role was going to expose me for what I really was. A youth minister. To the core.
So when my friends would not back down, I made a fateful proposition. I said since the only thing I really knew was youth ministry, then they needed to be willing to have our whole church family function like a large youth group. That’s what I was willing to offer. I was not willing to start doing things differently.
I believed in my heart that if something of substance worked in youth ministry, then it would work with a whole church full of adults. And it would be good. There were no models to learn from. There were no books to read on the topic. There were no conferences to attend. Nobody I knew of had done what we were going to do. This was going to be totally uncharted territory.
Here has been my conviction: Kids hang out with each other. Kids pursue fun. Kids are open to change. Kids are willing to be taught and challenged. Kids are interested in changing the world. Kids are moved by compassion. Kids laugh and joke and play. Kids freely accept others and are not quick to judge. Kids are not wowed by programs and structures and rules and guidelines. Kids are honest and speak their minds. Kids embrace wonder and see doubt and questions as friends. Friendship means everything to kids. Faith is instinctive.
And then kids turn into adults.
So what is our model of ministry at North Point?
I don’t really have a clue. But teaching adults to act like kids again has been a good place to start.