Ironic Church Planting

Ironic Church Planting

When I was in seminary, the head of the youth and family ministry department spoke to the new class of students and said that we shouldn’t go into youth ministry unless we were in it for the long haul and for the sake of working with kids. No more of that using youth ministry as a stepping stone. I believed him. 100%. So I didn’t take a single class in youth or family ministry. Then God sent me to be the campus pastor at a large Christian high school for four years.

Looking back, I never took a course on church growth or church planting either, thinking that church planters need to be entrepreneurial types who are gregarious, possibly egregious, and definitely workaholics (Homer Simpson: “I’m addicted to workahol!”). That’s not really me. For all that I am pushy and restless, I still tend more toward the contemplative than the active life.

I think you know where this is going.

We’re going to do a missional church plant down in Alton. This is unexpected for several reasons, not the least of which is the fact that I have only been at Emmanuel for about ten months.

The title of this blog–the ironic disciple–is meant to communicate something that is often overlooked: Most examples of discipleship, especially in scripture, are filled with dramatic irony. The characters are aware of very little of the meaning of the story they’re in. What Jesus seems to them is not who he really is. What the Spirit is doing throughout the book of Acts–pretty much a total surprise in every chapter. But we’ve lost our taste for irony in general, and our willingness to admit that the same level of dramatic irony hangs over our own stories. We know all too well. We plan so much better. There are no more questions to be answered.

I am wondering if being the New Testament church, connected deeply to primitive Christianity, has less to do with form and more to do with living as ironic disciples.