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Don't Call it a Church Plant

I listened to a lot of hip-hop, R&B and Rap as a teen. LL Cool J was prevalent at the time. He had a ton of hits but one song he's most noted for is called "Mama Said Knock You Out".

The video (embedded below) shows a boxer stepping into the ring to take on the competition. LL basically came on to the scene in this particular album saying that he was going to take care of business.

LL had already been widely successful in the music industry prior to this record so the opening line of his song was a proclamation that he didn't consider what he was doing to be a "comeback". He wanted everyone to have a realistic view of his entire career and put it into perspective.

Recently I heard about news that Louie Giglio and Chris Tomlin are going to "plant a church" in Atlanta.

I have to be honest. At first I was disappointed but not for reasons you may think.

Like most of you, my Christian experience has been forever altered by both of these gentleman and their work. I own a decent amount of what they've put out and I've heard them both live on several occasions. I love who they are in the Kingdom and what they continue to do even right now on the Passion Tour. I'm not disappointed for them and what they will be doing.

I'm disappointed at all of the people who will misperceive what they will be doing.

Initially (probably like you) I thought "Why Atlanta? Atlanta already has buckets of mega-churches."

Let me get something straight up front: It doesn't matter one bit what I think about "Why Atlanta?" It's none of my business. It's none of yours either. We should celebrate the potential for multiple thousands to come to Christ in Atlanta. In fact we should beg God for that same saturation in every part of our globe.

It is true that Atlanta is a hotbed for evangelical mega-churches but Atlanta is also a very large metropolis and at the end of the day Atlanta's un-churched population will still be larger than the population of most ever city in the nation.

So let me help you think about "Why Atlanta?" from a practical standpoint. It's pretty simple. Louie and his family are based there. Sixsteps Records is there and Louie has been a part of tilling that soil for years. He's got as much right to plant there as anyone. That's his town. I'm sure he loves that city.

As for Chris, he's also got every right to go back to a place that means a ton to him and serve with people he loves. Let's not forget that he's spent the last several years in Austin as a part of a great church plant out there. The blog world isn't a place for Christians to question other's motives. These are both stand-up dudes who want to see their generation reached for the gospel. Louie has meant a great deal to Chris and if Louie wants him, I'm sure Chris is honored to support a mentor and friend in his life. So the "Why Atlanta?" question for me is mute.

As I said, the main things that concern me have to do with how future church planters may perceive this situation.

I spoke recently with a church-blog-rock-star [who I haven't asked to post his name so I wont]...
In part we talked about some of the major players in Christianity that guys try to copy. The fact is that most of those names did not truly "plant" in the way that 99% of church planters 'plant'.

There is always a story behind the story.

VERY RARELY will you find the Elevation Church story of 4,000 people in under 2 years. Those are beyond the scope of comprehension. Those are undeniable God-ordained movings of the spirit that encapsulate an area. As my friend and I discussed however, most people don't know the stories behind the stories of some of the major "church plants".

Several of them were actually large church-splits. Several were situations where hundreds of people searched for and found the now well-known Senior Pastor so the base was well on its way.

Planters should NOT look to those churches in the same category as a "church plant".

There is a HUGE difference between planting and watering seed with transplanting a tree.

In the big picture there is absolutely NOTHING WRONG with transplanting a tree as that tree will usually plant other seedlings in the future. I just want to save a lot of guys about 3-5 years of heartache as they play a comparison game that 1. Isn't what God wants you to do. and 2. Is unrealistic by any stretch of the imagination.

So back to LL Cool J. He said "Don't Call it a come back, I've been here for years."

I'm just asking the blog world as this church undoubtedly takes off in amazing ways... please...

"Don't call it a church plant. It's been there for years."

As I said earlier... this takes NOTHING away from Louie and Chris and their ministry. They have spent YEARS and YEARS pouring themselves out in that city and cities around the world. Louie's church plant is at least a dozen years old in terms of his tilling the soil. Many of the initial folks who will gather together in Atlanta will be people who come for the amazing communicator and lead worship Pastor INITIALLY. But I suspect the point of what they will do will not be simply a "church plant" for Atlanta. I have a suspicion they will help mobilize a lot of Christians to continue reaching thousands more for the name of Christ.

I've read people saying that Atlanta doesn't "need" another mega church. Says who? If there are a few million people who still don't have the gospel in and around Atlanta I'd say it needs a few hundred "mega-churches".

Just whatever you do church planter... Do not describe what Louie, Chris and others do in Atlanta as a church plant in the same way. Realize what they are doing is a move of God that Louie and Chris have been investing in for over a dozen years.

Go invest for a dozen in your town and beg God to bring that move to you.

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Tuesday, July 08, 2008


At 3:41 PM, Blogger John said...


Preach it.

Liking your commentary here... I think it's a breath of fresh air.

Who knows how God will move? No one. But we certainly find it easy to criticize and come up with our own suggestions on how we believe He SHOULD move.

Word to your mama.

At 8:15 PM, Blogger JC said...

I just yelled, "Don't Call it a Comeback!" in my deepest rap-worthy voice.


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