7 Reasons I Love Independent Christian Churches
This week, Intentional Churches is on the way to Anaheim, CA to participate in the North American Christian Convention. We have several team members presenting workshops, IC is exhibiting, and we are scheduling many meetings with church leaders about Intentional GrowthPlanning and more. It will be a rich week for sure.
The North American Christian Convention is connected to the Restoration Movement. It is the annual gathering of a tribe of churches called the Independent Christian Churches (ICC) and Churches of Christ. This is a wonderful group of non-denominational churches who share a common heritage dating back over 200 years. Some of the World’s most effective ministries are connected to this brotherhood of churches.
Doug Parks and I owe a huge debt of thanks to this tribe for many reasons. It was in these independent, Bible-believing churches that we accepted Christ and our call to ministry. It was in these churches that we cut our teeth in ministry and were mentored by some incredible, loving leaders. It’s in these churches that we still worship today in Las Vegas.
Here is why we love our spiritual family of origin and how it impacts us and IC:
Pioneering Spirit. The Restoration Movement was born on the frontier of America in the early 19th century. From its inception, it has had a fearless pioneering spirit. Some of today’s greatest church planting organizations and events have roots in the Independent Christian Churches. You’ve probably heard of Stadia, Orchard Group, and Exponential to name a few. This movement is entrepreneurial and growth-oriented by nature!
Lack of Pretense. Because of the nature of their beginning, the ICC’s are traditionally simple and not overly bound by extraneous traditions. The movement was formed to strip what was unnecessary from the local church and return it to its Acts 2 roots. The spirit of the movement is non-pretentious and extremely down to earth. No church leaders “keep it real” better than the ICC’s.
Faithful AND Fruitful. Recently, Ed Stetzer wrote a blog about the need to balance theological integrity and pragmatism. Neither provides the ultimate test for effectiveness. Effectiveness in the local church is found in both a commitment to God’s inerrant Word, and awareness of the practical realities of the world in which we minister. No group of churches does a better of job of balancing this than the ICC’s. They are quick to adapt strategies to be more effective without compromising their foundational commitment to scripture.
Evangelism AND Discipleship. We often use the phrase “more and better” to describe our efforts to help churches increase their Kingdom Impact. We want both – more and better disciples! This commitment to balance definitely comes from our roots in the ICC’s. No group better balances a focus on evangelistic preaching while calling believers to increasing surrender to Christ. The two go naturally hand in hand in these churches.
Christians Only, Not the Only Christians. I personally resonate deeply with this basic tenant of the ICC’s. If we are going to impact the world for Christ, we must do more to link arms as church leaders in new and exciting ways. No group is better suited to cross what have been otherwise uncrossable boundaries and unify Christ-followers to the ends of greater Kingdom Impact. This belief is baked into IC’s commitment to build a tribe of like-minded leaders from all backgrounds and models of church.
Scripture First. We begin each Intentional GrowthPlan with a look at Acts 2, Matthew 28 (The Great Commission), and Luke 15. If we are going to grow the local church’s impact, the plan and conversation must start with the fundamentals found in these scriptures. This movement taught us to begin with scripture. Everything you need to reach and grow people for Christ is found there, we just need a great plan to unleash the inherent power of the Gospel.
Keep It Simple. I believe in this age of “over-information” we often can be tempted to over-complicate our church leadership strategies. I learned to simplify my leadership by growing up in the home of a Christian Church pastor and subsequently joining ICC teams that were strategically focused. Let’s get the big stuff right! Let’s gather for preaching and worship, build life-changing relationships, and send people into the world to impact others in the name of Christ. Stripping away complexity is a conviction we got from the ICC’s.
I could go on. My spiritual family will always be special to me. It’s where I will always call home but it’s also what drives Doug Parks and I to lead IC to bigger and broader impact for Christ. Thank you to the North American Christian Convention for gathering us together and reminding us of these roots!!