First Things First

My name is Lewie Clark, and I have been in ministry for 28 years. As a young man I was discipled to be a follower of Jesus by a man named Taylor Gardner. The process of being discipled was life changing. After pastoring for a number of years I moved to Chicago in 2005 to begin ministry from “scratch.”

I am neither a writer nor a blogger, but several friends have asked me to journal our experiences. There are fifteen of us here in Chicago learning together what it means to build a community of followers of Jesus. Together we will periodically share with you the story of our journey.

First Things First

The great commission is to make followers of Jesus, not to plant churches.

My objective in moving to Chicago was to make followers of Jesus rather than plant a church. My conviction is that the by-product of making followers of Jesus is an authentic kingdom community.

Many church planting methods place the cart before the horse. One plants a church (meaning, one recruits a pastor, chooses a target group, decides on a name, writes a mission statement, creates a constitution with by-laws, and files for tax exemption) in order to reach people with the good news of Jesus. The church planting process is cumbersome, expensive, and therefore prohibitive. Although I do not question the motives of church planting I simply ask the question, “Is there a better way?”

It was C. S. Lewis who said, “Put first things first and we get second things thrown in; put second things first and we lose both first and second things.” When one makes disciples first it will result in kingdom communities of faith and love. But when one plants churches first there is the danger of not only not making followers of Jesus but also of setting the church start up for failure.

We are only allowing our Chicago community to grow at the rate that we can effectively make disciples. Years ago Robert Coleman exhorted the church:

One can not transform a world except as individuals in the world are transformed, and individuals cannot be changed except as they are molded in the hands of the Master. The necessity is apparent not only to select a few laymen, but to keep the group small enough to be able to work effectively with them.  [1]

I believe that Chicago and the world can be changed through our one small band of followers of Jesus.

[1] Robert E. Coleman, The Master Plan of Evangelism, (Old Tappan: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1963) p. 24.

One thought on “First Things First

  1. I would say it’s working.. Our community in Little Rock is a result of discipleship by Lewie. It was difficult not to put “the cart before the horse” because of our traditional church education and habits and behaviors already formed. It’s difficult to trust the Holy Spirit to lead us. But it’s working.

    Our greatest assest/tool is to love one another as Jesus loved the disciples. Although this may appear selfish for the community, it’s become our greatest opportunity to advance the kingdom and for others outside the community to see authentic community and be welcomed through hospitality into something very real.

    The “process” is definitely slower than the church planting process, but our experience has resulted in disciples making disciples…

    When Lewie left Little Rock, I thought (as did many others) we would never experience a friendship again as we did with him, or see Jesus in anyone else as we did with him. I was wrong. Those in our community show me Jesus everyday as Lewie did and the friendships bonded are just as real.

    We’re in a significant stage of multiplication now as a community, with some of us planning to move to Chicago, some going to California and some taking on new initiatives here in Little Rock.

    I know we’re just one of several communities that have been developed from discipleship. Lewie’s left a big wake. But God as blessed his efforts and new “wakes” are being created.

    Thanks Lewie for your commitment to being like Jesus and advancing the Kingdom. We’re excited about what God is doing in Chicago.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *