Friday, March 25, 2011

Digging "The Well"

This is a follow up article to articles about the church becoming a “third place” and The Well.

I recently had lunch with a couple of passionate and prophetic men who were inquiring about what it would take to do something completely new for God. They asked something like, “So where do you begin if you decide that you want to start a radical ministry like The Well?” Essentially, how do you dig “The Well?” After struggling with a failed church plant, being part of a few church revitalization projects, and studying extensively in both areas, I believe there are three essential components to launching “The Well,” or any new, major initiative where you hope to have Kingdom impact. There must be passion, partners, and a plan.

By passion I mean a real sense of divine calling that is the driving force behind the effort. This moves beyond a few well-meaning folks thinking it’s a good idea, or cheerleaders who are excited to see something different happen but aren’t willing or able to get on the field to make things happen. Passion in this sense is the kind Jeremiah has when he says that God’s fire is “shut up in his bones” and that he has to obey God rather than men. Passion like this wakes you up at night with a stirring in your spirit, everywhere you turn there is an affirmation to what God is calling you to. It becomes all you talk about, the topic of every prayer, the center of every study. It begins to seem as though you have spiritual blinders on and that God is working in your heart directly to bring forth something completely new and different and that causes the passion to rise within you even more. Passion is the beginning because you also need partners.

Partners are those who, when they hear the vision God is calling you to, when they see the passion that is burning within you want to be part of it. Partners are also those strategic relationships within the community that will allow you to get doors opened, obstacles conquered, and resources gathered. Partners come along side you because they see God at work within you. Real partners eventually join forces with you and take ownership of the divine calling God has placed on your heart and are willing to make personal sacrifices for Kingdom work. They give generously, work tirelessly, and use their influence to expand the vision. Before I was to ever launch another major initiative I would want to secure fifty, spiritually mature, radically committed partners who believed in the vision and were willing to invest and invite others to come on the journey. Passion provides the motivation, partners provide strategic relationships within the community, but it is just an idea until you have an executable plan.

Planning may be the most neglected part of ministry. A careful study of scripture reveals that when God calls a leader, God gives a plan. Once the partners are gathered, then there is the need to create an executable plan. The mission must be defined as narrowly as possible, the vision must be absolutely clear, the core operating values well defined, and the strategy laid out in excruciating detail. Leadership expectations should be clear and measurable. The decision making process must be defined.  The partners need to be clear on what God is calling them to do, who God is calling them to reach, and how is God is call them to do ministry. Risks must be assessed, budgets created, and focus must be clear. This detailed process can be incredibly frustrating for those of us with that powerful sense of passion but passion without a plan is a wildfire, it burns hot but only leaves destruction behind. Passion with a plan is a kiln, it produces an amazing amount of heat and helps create incredible works of art shaped by the potter.

So what would it take to dig “The Well?” It would take passion, partners, and a plan. I’ve got the shovels whenever you are ready. I remain:

Consumed by the Call,

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