Alignment vs. Addition
When Chanson Newborn moved from Little Rock to Forrest City to plant a church, he purchased a fixer upper for his family. Since there isn’t a lot of money in church planting, this is not an out of the ordinary practice for a new church planter. Being new to the community, he began seeking opportunities to engage people who needed to hear the gospel. He connected his life to his mission by recruiting some guys who didn't know Jesus to work on his house and as they worked, he shared Jesus along the way. Instead of adding a myriad of activities to his life to reach people, Chanson simply aligned his life with the work of God. In other words, he didn’t see the mission of God as something he had to add to his already busy life, but rather synced them together. Finding this synergy, especially early on in the life of a new church, is crucial to building a church from the harvest. Unless the planter takes on the posture and mindset of a missionary, he may find himself simply starting a new worship service designed to appeal to already churched people instead of starting a church to reach those far from Jesus.
Chanson described this mindset of alignment instead of addition in episode 71 of the Grind and reveals what it takes to follow his example.
1. Find neutral and natural places to engage people
Chanson needed help rennovating his house. He had a legitimate need. He wasn’t creating a need. He was simply using his need as a means to reach people. Finding neutral and natural ways to connect with people is crucial. We can’t create false narratives that don’t exist in real life to reach people. They will see through that and it can be off-putting. Without a genuine connection to people, our outreach efforts feel forced, and this makes it difficult to get the gospel to them. But how do we discern how to make these neutral and natural connections?
2. Start where you live, work, and play
Chanson not only found a neutral and natural way to connect with those that need Jesus but he did so by starting where he lived. He needed help on his house, where he literally lived. When Jesus tells us to love our neighbor, we often default to our metaphorical ones. In so doing, we can bypass our literal neighbors in the name of mission. Like Chanson, we should start where we live. For other planters this might look different. For BIVO or COVO planters, starting where they work makes the most sense. And still others will find hobbies and interests they already have that are natural and neutral bridges to the lost. Do you like to play golf? Invite others who don’t know Jesus! Do you like to exercise? Find a way to do that with the lost. Join a gym, a running club, or some other avenue of engaging people naturally.
In our post-Christian culture, alignment of our lives with the mission of Jesus is the crucial way to reach people. Finding these places that Jesus has already sent us to that are neutral and natural was imperative for Chanson and it’s necessary for anyone in ministry as well. Don't burn out trying to add a bunch of activity to an already hectic season of starting your church. Look at where you are and what you have. Start small, but start now. Where will you start?