Thursday, February 12, 2009

It's not sexy, but it has teeth

Just thinking a little about the post I made today (Choose a Few, Train a Lot) in the context of church planting in America. Of course, I didn't write it thinking about that context, but I wrote it thinking about our context over here. But when I read this from the perspective of those in America who are trying to plant big happening churches, or to grow big happening ministries, I think they will think this is a pretty boring approach.

Boring. Not exciting. Not flashy. Not impressive. Not... sexy.

One of my favorite movies is "The Firm" with Tom Cruise. Cruise's character is a lawyer with a firm that represensts these mobsters, and he wants out, but they threaten him, and then he meets these FBI guys that want him to gather evidence against the firm for them. So, he is caught in between and realizes his life is messed up, possibly forever, and tries to find a way out. In the end he gives the FBI guy enough evidence to put the firm partners away, but it is not the 'smoking gun' the FBI guy is looking for. When the the FBI guy balks, Cruise's character says, "It's not sexy, but it has teeth."

It's not sexy, but it has teeth.

It may not impress anyone, but it gets the job done very well.

That is discipleship the way Jesus did it. Jesus didn't do it to impress the Pharisees. "Wow, look at Jesus' approach--he is so smart and innovative! Maybe we should think about getting a few of our own apostles at the synagogue." In fact, I don't think Jesus did much of anything to impress people. He didn't do miracles for the effect it had on the crowd. "Oh, they love it! They love it!" as he bows before an applauding mass of people. Jesus wasn't into his own fame like many of us would be. You could say he was into God's fame, but it wasn't the same as human pomp and pride.

To be sexy is to be impressive. A "sexy" girl is someone who impresses men who like pretty girls. A "spiritually sexy" person is someone who impresses people who like spiritual people. If I know you are impressed by humility, I can then impress you by being so humble. So, I've raised your opinion of me by demonstrating my humility to you. If I know you are impressed by influence, I can then impress you by being the one up in front of large crowds of people. So, I've raised your opinion of me by demonstrating my leadership prowess to you.

You see, anything we do to have the effect of raising someone's opinion of us (impressing them) is pride, even if that thing is Christian spirituality. And I don't think Jesus got caught up into this. I don't think he lived to impress people in the way we often do. But he lived to get the job done.

Taking a few disciples and training them for a few years to go out and do the same isn't going to impress many Christians who are looking for impressive people to write articles about or ask to publish books. But it just may be the thing that begins the transformation of your community.


  1. Big, shiny church planting organizations do not impress me. We are SO very fortunate that we are able to be self-funded. Who better to understand the needs of the community than the ones who live in it? I'm going to send this link to my pastor. I think you guys think very much alike.

  2. Hey Katdish!

    You are my first commenter and now the first follower in the Koffi House! Hey, thanks so much! I'm glad you feel it worthwhile to send the link to your pastor. I pray all goes well with your ministry at Convergence.

    Hey, btw, does Convergence have any denominational association?


  3. KJ-

    Convergence is an offshoot of Joel Olsteen's "Fellowship of Excitement!" (Just kidding...I pretty much detest that guy.)

    We are an independent Christian Church. We do not have a "mother church". Many of us are from another Christian church, and they support us via a monthly donation, but we wrote our own by-laws and are completely independent. (Well, we depend on God and each other, but you get what I'm saying.) How bout you?

  4. That's what I thought. Same, same, here.

  5. We're in Katy, Texas (just west of Houston).