Thursday, April 22, 2010

Up the Middle

I have a friend named Matt. He wrote a book called Up the Middle Church. Though Matt's a diehard baseball fan, for some reason he wrote a book with a football analogy - but we'll forgive him for that. Anyway, here's the deal. Planting a church is hard. I hear stories about churches that just explode in growth, and I learn about leaders who seem to never make mistakes and everything they touch seems to turn to gold. But you know why we hear those stories? Because they are the exception - not the rule. Stories get told about things that stand out, that are different than the norm. The fact is that the norm for church planting is one yard at a time, up the middle. Most of us experience a grueling, tough battle where we gain a little bit of ground, then get sacked for a loss, then we get back up and gain it back and hopefully make some first downs along the way.

Leading up to Easter, we did a huge marketing campaign as a church. We spent a pretty good amount of money to do a huge mailer to our community, we hung door hangers on close to 2,000 homes, we put out yard signs all over the place, and we did Facebook ads like nobody's business. And you know what happened on Easter? We had two less people than the week before Easter. Sack.

I was in a coaching session yesterday with about six or seven other church planters, led by the same friend Matt who wrote the book. Everyone was sharing about the last month's "wins" - the things that went well. Many of the guys had record attendances on Easter - 250, 350, etc. When I shared about our Easter I'll be honest, it felt a little like we had failed. But here's where talking to other people is so important. One guy shared that two years running they went down in attendance on Easter, and this year they finally had a good one. You know what that little admission does for someone like me? It reminds me that this church planting thing is an "Up the Middle" process. The gains we are making in seeing individual lives being changed is amazing. I'm learning to celebrate those one yard gains more and more all the time.

I'm thankful today for community. For guys that are out there on the field with me and struggling with me for one yard, two yards, a first down. Make no mistake, we're winning the game.


i love being the game with you. it is so important to celebrate every yard. a win= a new couple to the area said joining our church is what made Durham feel like home. people are connecting with each other and taking steps closer to Jesus. this is only the beginning of God doing great things. love you

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