The Mystical Unicorn & the “L” Word

I recently read a post by a Pastor/Planter about the emphasis on the ugly word, “Launch.” (

It sits in the heart and mind of every church planter. It’s a burden, a curse, a joyful anticipation. In many ways it seems to define one’s ability to succeed.

If you don’t know when….you’re not planing well but if you do know when….make sure you can do it well….and ALWAYS be prepared to change it….on and on the psychosis goes.

I wrestle constantly with the if/when/how questions about the L-word. Some tell you, “just do it…..” Some tell you to wait till you have the illusive, “critical mass.” (or as I like to refer to it…the mystical unicorn)

The author of the article makes and intriguing statement, “My contention is that denominations, networks, sending churches and church planters need a seismic shift in recovering a more theologically-driven, biblically-rich and contextually-flexible taxonomy for our church planting efforts.”

What a beautiful idea…..problem is…..its not measurable.

The L-word is measurable! The L-word is what brings the paycheck right? The sad reality is that people don’t want to partner with someone without a good, strong, healthy & OBTAINABLE plan to launch.

The L-word comes up in almost every conversation about the plant. I was asked about the L-word before I even moved to the city.

The L-word is our great, “Allspark.” The L-word becomes the passion and drive. The L-word is how we, as planters, define our initial success.

So, for many of us, our livelihood is wrapped up in this gut-wrenching dance between having a plan, living by the Spirit and trusting God to provide.

This is why the author promotes an idea that sounds utterly ridiculous. He proposes, “Let’s start talking more about loving the people God has placed around us, and less about launch dates and critical mass.” (emphasis added)

He thinks we should love people and let the Gospel be what motivates us. He thinks that we should care more about people than our plant!

Sounds biblical right? So he suggests the answer is to drop the L-word and to passionately pursue building Gospel centered communities.

I like how he puts it at the end of his article:

“Rather than being driven by an obsession with ratios, data points, benchmarking and hype, we can simply ask ourselves the question: What does it look like for me, in this time and place with the resources I’ve been given, to love God and love my neighbor WELL?” (emphasis added) 

Reading the article reminds me of the request Jesus made to Peter. “Feed my sheep.”

Jesus didn’t ask him to read the latest church planting book.

Jesus didn’t ask him to do a neighborhood survey & compare that to geographical statistics.

Jesus didn’t ask him to figure out who his focus group would be.

Jesus didn’t even command him to, “go forth and prepare thy core team.”

Jesus simply commanded him to nurture, “feed,” those precious people that He (Jesus) put into Peter’s path. The good thing is….Peter got the message! (1 Peter 1:22-23, 2:2)

What if, “feeding,” was the goal and aim?

What would happen if we desired more to raise up disciples and, “feed,” Christ’s sheep?

What would happen if we, as ministers & planters, worried less about tomorrow and more about the kingdom?

Who knows, maybe we would eventually forget all about the mystical unicorn & the L-word.

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