It can be awkward, but only sometimes. It happens in certain conversations with other church-planting guys whenever the topic turns to vision for the future. Usually it goes something like this.
Church-planting guy (not me): So how many churches would you Sovereign Grace guys like to plant over the next ten years?Let me say something at the outset here. First of all, I am so grateful that there are church-planting groups who love the Savior and love the lost so much that they are willing to take the risks and send men so that many gospel-preaching churches can be planted quickly. That’s bigtime faith! And make no mistake, it’s being hurled at a bigtime need. I have no doubt God will bless those efforts. But as much as I’d like to see Sovereign Grace churches so widely and thickly planted that you couldn’t spit from a freeway without hitting one, that isn’t what God is calling us to. At least for now.
Me: Mumble, mumble, mumble… (sounds of me stuffing chips in my mouth to avoid answering)
Church-planting guy: We’re believing God for thousands of churches planted over the next few months. We’re calling it maniacal multiplication. So how many churches do you guys have right now?
Me (having no more chips to protect me): About 80, or maybe it’s 90—I forget exactly.
CPG: Wow, that’s great. How long have you guys been planting?
Me: Since “We Are the World” came out.
CPG: Wow, that’s incredible.
Me: The first one.
CPG (doing math in his head): Oh…I’ll pray for you dude.
End of conversation. Awkward.
When it came to church planting, what mattered to us was that real, solid, gospel-loving, local churches would bloom. Churches that had shared values, relational connection with each other, and common purpose. We didn’t want to plant churches and walk away from them, or have them walk away from us. We call ourselves a family of churches because that’s what we’ve been. We wanted to build slow and plant slow because we wanted every church to apply the gospel and be a healthy contributor to the mission of church planting for years to come. We’ve made tons of mistakes along the way, but that’s what we’ve tried to do.
I highly recommend you read the first installment and stay tuned.