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Phil and Meredith McCollum: ?Gospel Planting? in East Hollywood
Written by soulster   
Tuesday, 09 October 2007

This month, friends of mine Phil and Meredith McCollum where featured in the Christian Chronicle, a newspaper for the Churches of Christ. The largest periodical for this wing of the Restoration Movement has been covering church growth issues in the year-long series “Are We Growing?”. This issue details efforts to plant churches in various regions as a strategy for evangelism.

The McCollums don’t really view themselves as “church planters”, but “Gospel planters” manifesting the presence of Jesus in one of the L.A. metro’s tougher areas. They’re more than a little uncomfortable with the idea of recruiting people to church, as if it’s too much like salesmanship. On the other hand, they are more than happy to help people know and experience Jesus, empowering them to share spirituality in their own relational network and context.

Meredith says, “For us, it’s not so much that you bring people to church and then they know Jesus after going to church. It’s the other way around. If we can introduce them to Jesus, then they can become the church.”

I couldn’t agree more. With true discipleship to Jesus so rare in many churches, it appears that many invited to church have yet to really become the body of Christ. A more organic approach would suggest that people should commit to knowing Jesus first, then they can become the community the represents him to each other and the rest of the world. While this is part of almost everyone’s ecclesiology, in practice much more effort is spent on getting people to attend meetings where they may or may not ever really come to experience Christ for themselves and join him on mission. Once in meetings, people are expected to pick up on the Jesus being spoken about, but the reality of human growth is far different from just exposure to information.

Church leaders, professors, and planting agencies should take note of this. There is a generation of sold-out Jesus followers who want to put church in it’s place: Jesus > Mission > Church. You meet Jesus. You follow him on mission. When you meet others who are on the same path, you are the church. They aren’t particularly interested in starting church meetings and programming, but they are very interested in life-on-life demonstrations of what Jesus is like which can result in people who commit together as incarnational families.

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