Mark Your Calendars for the Church Planter’s Summit Oct 3, 9-3 @ K2 The Church
THE NAMES MATTER By Kyle Costello Lead Pastor, Missio Dei Community, Salt Lake City, UT
When our moving trucked rolled into Salt Lake City on January 29, 2010 I had a countless amount of strategies, philosophies, and dreams for our church plant. I am sure I bored the life out of anyone who would listen when I discussed the who, what, where, and when of Missio Dei Community. I was ready to deploy my game plan on that incredible city nestled against the Wasatch Mountains. Little did I know that my church planting lingo and strategies would mean close to nothing when compared to words like; Joe, Ron, Grace, Isaac, and Justine.
As a kid I didnʼt grow up as a Christian. I was a Utah Mormon who would have struggled to tell you who Billy Graham was. When I first encountered Christianity the only thing that I was interested in was the short worship services. Rarely did much of it impress or intrigue me. In fact the only idea that really captured me was the idea that in Christianity we are called into a relationship with God and through that into a relationship with one another.
Itʼs difficult to describe a relationship in words, but both before and after conversion God was working on me. He opened my eyes to a Bible that I would have said I had known my whole life, but in hindsight had no clue about. and I didn’t want to find God walked me through his Scripture in both delicate ways and sometimes with the delicacy of a nine iron to the chest. He showed me Jesus like I had never seen, taught me words worship music nor did I like pursuit, and brought to life redemption. God always seemed to be around me. He was with me in doubt, struggles, successes, accolades, failure, and tragedy. He was a long-suffering God. The God relationship came much easier than the church one. When I became a Christian I didnʼt really want anything
to do with the church. I didnʼt know what “fellowship” was and I didnʼt want to find out. I had no interest in worship music nor did I want my political affiliation defined for me. The God relationship came much easier than the church one. When I became a Christian I didnʼt really want anything to do with the church. I didnʼt know what “fellowship” was and I didnʼt want to find out. I had no interest in worship music nor did I want my political affiliation defined for me. But once I shut my mouth and started listening to his people it began to be quite apparent that through these broken people God was bringing to life his Kingdom.
First, they were being incredibly patient with me. They didnʼt laugh when I mixed up the Book of Mormon and the Bible. They patiently talked me through what it meant to respond to God in service and obedience and they didnʼt excommunicate me when I made fun of Rick Warrenʼs shirts during our Purpose Driven Life small group.
What God was teaching me in those moments proved so much more effective to me in church planting than the latest book or the best demographics. God will first and foremost shape you in your relationship with him. His name reigns supreme. As you plant, his name must be revered above all. He must be the first that you repent to, the first that you cling to, the first that you trust in. You arenʼt
The God relationship came much easier than the church one. When I became a Christian I didn’t really want anything to do with the church. I didn’t know what “fellowship” was out. I had no interest in want my political affiliation defined for me. What God taught me 12 years ago proved to be my most valuable asset in church planting. Names matter. the savior, and this great God is shaping you so much more than you will ever shape your church plant. What God taught me 12 years ago proved to be my most valuable asset in church planting. Names matter. When people like Bart and Catherine suffered my immaturity, those many years ago, as we met and prayed and talked about God, they were showing me that Godʼs church cared about me. They cared about me for me. I wasnʼt a problem to fix or an asset to exploit but rather a fellow disciple to encourage, rebuke, and train up. I found that they cared for their neighbors, whether they were Christians or not.
They served them and loved them, not to force them to come to church but to show them love that is born out of abundance rather than scarcity.
It may sound simple or pedestrian, but that is how we have gone about planting Missio Dei. Those names in that first paragraph are all people that I met soon after moving here. Joe is a coffee shop owner who is no closer to accepting Jesus as when we moved here. He loves profanity as well as his agnosticism. But one thing Joe knows for sure is that our community loves him and that we love Jesus. He knows so many of us by name, trades life stories, parenting stories, and music suggestions with us on a daily basis and has quipped more than once how he appreciates our love for the city.
Grace is an incredibly gifted nurse who loves Jesus. I met her through some insane circumstances and she jumped in with our motley core group. She studied Eugene Peterson with my wife and talked to me often about her dream of the American Church serving locally and globally in a selfless manner rather than an imperial one. She eventually was ready to go and 14 months ago she left Salt Lake City for Gonaives Haiti where she runs a medical clinic in a slum built on a trash dump.
My wife and I didnʼt recruit Grace with a flyer, rather we learned her name and the life behind her name over Americanos, Ethiopian food, and contra dancing. We didnʼt sweet talk Joe into liking us, rather we remembered his name, prayed for him often, and sought to bless him and his business.
Those other names at the top all have stories attached to them. Some are Jesus followers and some arenʼt but they are all people who we believe God wants to woo, redeem, love, heal, and bring into the great news of the Gospel. Names matter here. Who really is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Who really is Joe, Grace, Isaac, Justine, and Ron? How can I be known more by God and my community? How can I know my community and God more? Those questions have seemed to go a lot further than my strategies and arguments about church planting philosophies.