Pastor Matt Reviews “AND: The Gathered and Scattered Church.”

Posted: March 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

God gave me a vision for a church plant that would become Revolution back in early 2008.  The idea was to create a community that lived out the Gospel (2 Cor. 5:21) by word and deed.  The leadership team that God brought together focused like a laser on a Sunday service.  We crafted what we believed to be a theologically deeper and more relevant worship service executed with excellence.  We then challenged those who gathered to worship to join a small group and adopt a social justice ministry as their own.  We called it “Worship-Grow-Serve.”  I believed these steps would produce disciples who produced other disciples.  I was wrong.

Church planters and consultants Hugh Halter and Matt Smay argue in AND: The Gathered and Scattered Church (Zondervan: 2010)  that great worship services alone have failed to produce truly devoted disciples of Jesus Christ.  In fact, they argue that in a largely consumerist culture, simply putting on a good show on Sunday may actually feed the desire to receive without thought to giving.

Halter and Smay are not against great worship services but challenge the church to focus primarily on that which produces disciples of Jesus not just great attendance.  The authors believe that a regular gathering of Christ followers is necessary for spiritual growth.  They point to the members of the early church which faced periodic persecution drawing strength from their collective worship services.

Yet, the early church did more than just gather, they scattered into the unredeemed areas of their own culture.  Christians today, however, gather but largely do not scatter.

Halter and Smay write “whatever you give your best to will grow.” So, if you give your best to the Sunday service then you will have a great Sunday service but little discipleship and less evangelism.  If you put your best into evangelism and discipleship than that is what you will get.  It seems to follow that if you do so then great worship will almost naturally follow.

Halter and Smay don’t really set forth anything different from a number of other gifted missional leaders like Dan Kimball but they do present their challenge in compelling fashion that is sure to pinch church leaders as it did me.  For example, Halter and Smay write,

When we get face to face with Jesus,

-he’s never going to ask us how many churchgoers we called our own or how good our programs, preaching or presentations were.

-he’s not going to ask for your church budget or care how many friends you had on Facebook.

-he’ll not be interested in how many blog hits you had or sermons downloaded.

-he’s not going to evaluate how many staff we served with or how many inner-city ministries we supported.

-he won’t tell us that we picked the right form of church strategy to try or reference how relevant or culturally savvy our posture was.

The only thing he’s going to ask you about your performance (or what he would call your “faithfulness”) will be based on a very simple measurement:

Did you do all that you could with what I gave you to make people like me?

These words should hang in the office of each and every Christian leader. 

And is nothing short of required reading for pastors.  It is probably the one book that I wish I had read before launching my own ministry. I highly recommend it.

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