“Would you rather?” is a fun game for our family on road trips or when someone gets bored enough to start playing.
Maybe you’ve heard of the game. Someone poses a question that gives you a choice between two items and you discuss it. Would you rather go to the beach or the mountains? Would you rather read a book or watch a movie? Would you rather take a bath or a shower?
The goal is not really to answer the question, but to gain greater discovery and knowledge about one another. The challenge is that the choice is typically between two good things. Choosing between one bad and one good would be easy and reveal little, but choosing between two good things digs deeper into our values, or at least our preferences.
When we hear an answer, we know we have heard someone’s value. We follow their answer with questions: Why would you say that? What guided your choice?
“Would you rather?” is a value question. It gets us to places where we have to wrestle with our preferences and our principles, even if the question is a simple one.
Recently, a pastor asked me a “Would you rather?” question that forced me to wrestle with my values and principles. His question was, “Would you rather a church give $150K to a church plant every year or $150K to Acts 29 every year?”
I thought it was a great question and I gave an answer in the moment, but I thought the question merited some additional thought.
I believe that church planting is the most effective strategy to declare and demonstrate the gospel of Jesus Christ in a community.
First, let’s dispense with the caveats.
- I want to see churches planted. I believe that church planting is the most effective strategy to declare and demonstrate the gospel of Jesus Christ in a community. Our goal in Acts 29 US Southeast is to grow to 200 churches by 2020. So, a church giving $150K a year to a church plant is not an inconsequential thing.
- I affirm and celebrate that churches plant churches. In Acts 29, we celebrate the principle that networks don’t plant churches, churches do. So, a church expressing this kind of generosity is not in conflict with the values of Acts 29. It reflects them.
- I am also invested in building out a network that supports church planting churches so that they might endure. So, the position where God has placed me is going to guide my answer, but there’s also a reason I am giving a significant portion of my life to this role.
Now, since I played my cards already, you can probably guess my answer that evening. I wanted to say, “Both.” But, that’s not how the game is played. You have to pick one. You have to express your values and principles by choosing between two good things.
Elevating the profile of Acts 29 is not our primary objective, but getting our distinctives in front of others is worthy of investment.
I told him that I would rather a church give $150K to Acts 29. Here’s why.
- When a church supports church-planting through Acts 29, the Kingdom impact of Acts 29 expands. Acts 29 brings a unique flavor to the church planting landscape. Our blended distinctives of theological clarity, missional innovation and cultural engagement stand out in the church planting space. It means we believe those three go together and inform one another. They are not opposed to one another, nor are they optional. As money is invested in Acts 29, that message is propagated into the church planting landscape so that planters can be influenced and trained to think in this manner. Elevating the profile of Acts 29 is not our primary objective, but getting our distinctives in front of others is worthy of investment.
- When a church supports church planting through Acts 29, their money is invested exponentially around the world. Acts 29 is a diverse, global family that exists in 11 Networks on 6 continents. Money invested in Acts 29 sees churches planted in Kenya and Kentucky, Dubai and Durham, Rio and Reno. This exponential investment of dollars can be harder to see and celebrate than an individual plant, but the global impact is vast. Some of those dollars get directly to churches on the ground through financial assistance, but every dollar invested is spent on church planting. Things like the Bi-Annual Global Gathering and our Annual Report seek to assist in this celebration.
- When a church supports church planting through Acts 29, they are investing in people, structures and initiatives to not only assess church planters, but to coach, train and support them so that they might endure. We want to plant churches that endure and those churches will need assistance and those pastors will need care. A $150K investment in a church plant might help a guy for a year (or two in some contexts), but what about in years 10-15 of his church’s life? What kind of support structures are there for this pastor and church that are guided by theological clarity, missional innovation and cultural engagement? Where are the resources to help this pastor and church endure? Investing in church planting through Acts 29 helps us work together so that we might encourage one another to endure.
- When a church supports church planting through Acts 29, they are also joining into the mission of Acts 29 in a real, relational way. This means that they are investing money in the Network (and potentially other Acts 29 church plants), but they are also investing their influence and expertise. The church becomes an invested resource in what God is doing through Acts 29. Their treasure is going to guide their heart investment of time and talent.
Investing in church planting through Acts 29 helps us work together so that we might encourage one another to endure.
I hope that more churches will see the value of Acts 29’s unique distinctives in the church planting space and want to see our influence expand. I pray that churches will see the value of our structures and initiatives that assess, coach, train and support church planting churches. I hope that more churches will labor together as Acts 29 so that more churches and pastors might endure faithfully to the end. Investing dollars in this mission helps make this all happen.