Caution: You may have been a part of the history I’m about to describe. My intention is not to open old wounds but to explain how I was feeling and how to avoid some of the negative outcomes as people navigate their way between Legacy and 0-1 forms of ministry. Deb and I spent a lot of time last year connecting with those whom we thought we offended and apologized for anything we did that hurt or created disunity. We don’t want to undo any of that reconciliation so please do not take any of this personally. And for the reader who was not part of the history, please do not hear me pitting Legacy against 0-1. Both are the Bride of Christ and both have merit (and weakness). I am a pioneer so this is written from a pioneer’s perspective. But I believe in a “Both/And” mentality.
I was seeing enough, reading enough, and feeling enough that I had “Had Enough!” I wanted to see the kind of ministry that would multiply disciples as quickly as I was reading about in other countries and I was going to change no matter what the cost. I went on a six-month reading binge. Every author that was talking about reaching lost people, I devoured. Then I stopped and read nothing but the Bible for six months to validate what I was reading in these other books. I especially paid close attention to how well what I was hearing from others was matching up with the Master. Jesus was (and always will be) my gold standard. Then I went on another reading binge for six months and then another fast from other books and read only my Bible for six more months.
But don’t picture in your mind that I had become some Poindexter with my glasses halfway down my nose with a milky white complexion stuck back in the recesses of some moldy library. Oh no! I was putting these principles into action. I enlisted the help of one of my friends, Jim McKnight and my wife Deb, and we started experimenting. In fact, we called it the Great Commission Experiment. As people who had known me for years watched at a safe distance, I was blowing things up. I was like their weird old Uncle Chuck mixing chemicals in the basement and they didn’t know whether I was cooking up cocaine or a cure for cancer. We ticked a bunch of people off, hurt some feeling, and looked like heretics. We were trying the principles piecemeal and it was a huge failure.
This is a crucial lesson on working in a Legacy Church or Organization. When you’re experimenting, it’s like putting on your big coat in a very crowded room. You’re bumping and poking, slapping people in the face with your coat and saying “excuse me” every two seconds. It’s not very fun for you or the people in the room. So I had to leave the room and get some space. I had to start over from scratch. Perhaps I could have done both by starting a “Skunk Work” on the side but to be honest, I didn’t have the capacity to do both. I decided to go Zero to One (0-1) and to start all over again. We shut down the website, the Facebook group, and balled it all up and threw it in the trash can and I resigned from my position as a leader in that organization. And if I had to do it all again, I would, but I would do several things differently.
- I would apologize upfront and tell folks they need to stay at a safe distance
- I would assess whether or not it was feasible to do a “Skunk Work” on the side
- I would explain my convictions to the leadership and that I needed space and freedom to experiment
- I would not leverage my leadership to go on a massive recruiting campaign
- If it was not feasible to do a “Skunk Work” in the Legacy Church and/or Organization I would ask to be sent out as soon as possible
- I would resign as soon as I saw my presence was causing division for the greater flock
- I would start from scratch (or almost scratch)
But remember there are two sides to this story. I’m sure from other’s perspectives it was just as frustrating for them. So I’m not going to claim I was squeaky clean through the whole process and had some kind of moral high ground. I did some things and said some things (and certainly thought some things) that I regret today. But as painful as all that was, we learned some great lessons from the experiment that would determine our trajectory for the next decade. I kept going because I really felt Jesus was calling me to a new work. I also believe more than anything else He was testing my loyalty. It doesn’t mean people that didn’t agree with me weren’t loyal to Jesus. No, it was about my loyalty. I had to choose.
And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. 24 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. 25 For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels (Luke 9.23-26)
Peter, turning around, *saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His bosom at the supper and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” 21 So Peter seeing him *said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?” 22 Jesus *said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!” (John 21.20-22)
More about the choice in the next post…