Would you believe that North America is one of the most difficult places in the world to plant churches?
Veteran church planter David Watson suggests this, and he should know; he’s been involved in church planting movements all around the globe. The problem? North Americans, he argues, have been inoculated against the Gospel.
The term inoculate usually appears in the context of vaccination, a process by which a person becomes resistant to a disease by having been exposed to a weakened or dead form of it. The weakened or dead form of the disease prompts the person’s immune system to create antibodies, which are then able to fight off the disease if the person is exposed to its full-blown version.
Is it possible that one of the biggest barriers we face in disciple-making is that we are seeking to reach people who have built up resistance to Christianity by having been exposed to weakened or dead forms of it? Perhaps so. The only way to solve this problem, it seems, is to continually expose groups and communities to the full-powered version of Christianity, which they will recognize by virtue of its potency and uniqueness.
Nothing will do this as effectively as grace. In our society, there is nothing in such short supply as grace—the grace that enables us not to be offended and not to gossip, to forgive and receive forgiveness, to be neither overly impressed nor overly disappointed with others. Grace is the foundation of relational wellness and godly influence.
Begin to show earthy grace in your relationships, and you’ll do real damage to the kingdom of darkness. You’ll see God grant healing where discord existed. You’ll earn the right to speak into people’s lives at a deeper level. You’ll seem strangely attractive to those who have been exposed to graceless versions of Christianity.
Think through the relationships in your life and the ways you may be harboring bitterness or taking offense. How could you reach out to someone in grace today?
Beau Stanley and his wife, Stacey, both grew up in the Columbus area and have been part of Grace Polaris Church for most of their lives. Beau joined the Grace staff in 2007 after theology studies in the Chicago area and in Phoenix (Phoenix Seminary). Prior to that, he studied commerce (University of Virginia) and worked in the financial industry, including a role as an investment banking analyst for Goldman Sachs in New York City. Beau is a fitness enthusiast and also enjoys music and learning about diverse topics. Beau and Stacey have two young boys.
Thanks to Dede Kiener for her recent insights on grace, which provided key ideas for this post.