Monday, January 11, 2010


When you encounter a CTK participant (we don’t have “members” but “active participants”), you will hear them tell different stories about what they appreciate about CTK. One might say, “This is the first church where I have really gotten to know people, and where people have gotten to know me. I have grown so much because of my small group.” Another might add, “I enjoy the weekend worship services. I feel the presence of God when we get together.” Still another might say, “I love the fact that we are reaching out and starting new Worship Centers in new communities.” The point being, we are not all one thing, or another. We are both intimate and impacting. We are Hybrid.

Intimacy…when the church is personal, relational and inclusive.

Impact…when the church is powerful, missional and transformative.

Hybrids are sometimes a transition between one methodology and another. In between epics, we often find transitional forms with one hand reaching into the past, and the other reaching forward to the future. This is likely true for the automotive industry, as refined fossil fuels become less plentiful, and new forms of power, like electric and hydrogen, become more useful. Some would see the Hybrid Church in this light, as a way station between the corporate church (viewed to be analogous to the combustion engine, a popular but endangered species) and smaller house fellowships they project will ultimately replace it.

I personally do not view the Hybrid Church as a transitional form. I view it as a preferred design. That is, we may prefer a hybrid because it brings together two things in a way that is synergistic. The peanut butter and jelly sandwich, for example, is a long-time favorite hybrid. We prefer the two together because the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. When the church combines intimacy and impact it gets the best of both worlds.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010


At a conference I attended, the facilitator said: "It's more important to be kind than to be right." At first blush the statement resonated with me. I’ve certainly seen rightness expressed at the expense of kindness. But upon further reflection I think it was unfortunate that the conversation was being framed as "kind" versus "right." Can’t we be both? I think a better statement for the facilitator of this meeting to make would have been, "It is important to be right. It is just as important to be kind."

It’s ok to be extreme, but it’s not ok to be imbalanced. It was said of Abraham Lincoln that he was "a man of steel and velvet," extremely strong at the core with a very gentle exterior. It was said of Christ that he was “full of grace and truth,” completely truthful, but clearly gracious. That is what I want to be when I grow up. Both. And that is God’s dream for all of us in His church, that when we grow up we will “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:7-16). Greatness appears to be balanced extremes.

Balance is not very sexy, or cool. What is deemed newsworthy is often excessive in one direction or the other. The media tends to amplify the highly unlikely outliers, and tends to minimize the middler. This is true in Christianity, as well. The ministry that is extremely (and then fill-in-the-blank…large, evangelistic, Calvinistic, dogmatic, etc.) gets noticed. But for long-term effectiveness balance yields the best results, in your personal life and in your ministry.

A wise, older pastor advised me in my youth to “Lean against the prevailing wind.” He had used this phrase as a sextant for his personal life, leadership and teaching. He counseled, “If you find yourself preaching about grace all the time, maybe balance that with a message on holiness; if you’ve focused for a while on outreach, teach on discipleship.” So much of spirituality, he told me, is both/and, not either/or.