"In the New Testament, there are 43 "one another" passages, and during a Sunday morning service you might be able to practice three or four of them. And as the service gets large, you can probably do fewer. A massive group setting is also dangerous. You can come, sit, listen, and go home and think, I've been to church, even if you haven't practiced any "one anothers." And with video that only gets more intense. I'm not sure that's the direction we want to be heading.
We want to be calling people to deep bonds of solidarity with one another. We may gather in a massive group, but from the stage I often say, "This is just a church service. Church is actually about caring for one another, and serving one another, and speaking truth to one another in love. Don't get the two confused."
Question (from interviewer): The evidence suggests that video can have a fast and broad impact. So what's the alternative?
There is something more powerful than simply beaming yourself into other locations, and that is raising up disciples. Over time that will go farther and faster, but right now it will be more work and slower. ... there is a longer view that says, what if instead of beaming video to those ten locations, we train ten people who can go there and lead? That's a very basic question that should be in the mix somewhere....It's important to create a circle of trusting, loving people around you who will tell you the truth no matter what. They can help you think rightly about the criticism and keep you balanced.
There are times when I wonder about how "small" the cohort is, and perhaps wonder if it really "counts" as "church." But Rob is right on when he says "church is about caring, serving and speaking truth to one another in love." It's true that our group is much smaller than what many people would consider a "successful" church, and we move pretty slowly too. But I agree that it is really important to take a long view. I get excited when I think about the impact that the people connected to the cohort will have in our neighborhoods around the world: Cambodia; Austria; France; Guatemala; east side Columbus; Louisiana Tech; under the bridges downtown; Ohio Wesleyan University; FedEx and Honda; Ohio State University; and just walking around the streets of Columbus.
We meet small, but we impact big.
We come together in deep and significant ways so that we can go out and love the same way.
And I certainly agree that it is important to have a circle of "loving, trusting people who tell you the truth no matter what and keep you balanced." There have been significant moments where the people in the cohort - my friends - have spoken to me this way, and I'm grateful. My hope is that by sharing with everyone what I see happening in our midst, you too can be excited, and can continue to live into and experience this very special and very powerful expression of the church that is happening right in our midst.