Helpful Tidbits for Organic Church Life                                            August 4, 2008
Church Planting By Way of Death
My Reflections
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In the mid-90s I went to a church planting assessment center in Minnesota to be assessed for, you guessed it, church planting. One of the things they evaluated, and wisely so, was the stability of a potential planter's marriage. After all, planting a conventional church is hard enough. Imagine, then, trying to plant a church when things are bad at home. Not good.
Since the mid-90s I've experienced quite a few changes. First, my understanding of church planting has changed: make disciples and churches naturally follow. Second, my understanding of marriages role in church planting has also changed.
Here's a couple things to bank on. Truth #1: Great marriages make great churches. Truth #2: A great marriage is only possible when one of you "dies" (welcome to spiritual leadership, husbands). 

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION/TOPIC: What does healthy marriages have to do with church planting?
Church Planting By Way of Death 
Excerpt from Bridal Intercession by Gary Wiens
The taking of the woman from the side of the man, out of his very flesh and bone, must have seemed to Adam a bizarre methodology compared with the one God employed for the rest of creation. We see it now as a picture of the Bride taken from the riven side of the crucified Christ, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. He identified permanently with her humanity without negating His divinity, thereby leaving Himself with no alternative but to exalt her to the incredible place of fellowship and partnership in the triune life of God. Truly a magnificent picture! (2001:25)
My Reflections
I read the excerpt above many years ago and it changed my life; for it was at that very moment when I put two and two together.
Just as Adam could not have a bride without first "falling asleep" (the whole rib thing) and just as the second Adam could not have a bride without first falling asleep (Jesus's sacrificial death) so, too, I could not have a bride without first dying. Oh, I get it, I remember thinking to myself, spiritual leadership is about laying down my life for Aimee, giving up my rights, just as Christ laid down his life for the church.
Although I wouldn't say that all I "know" about discipleship, church planting, missional church, and so on is rubbish, it pales in comparison to the one thing that has truly made me an effective ambassador for the kingdom of God: my own death. Death to needing to be right. Death to materialism. Death to recognition. Death to anything that gets between me and Jesus. The Apostle Paul heralds, "I have been crucified with Christ..." (Gal 2:20).
And now, I share with you this mystery: this death I'm talking about is, perhaps, most fully played out in the marital relationship. Again, Paul writes, "'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' This is a profound mystery - but I am talking about Christ and the church" (Eph 5:31, 32).
All this is to say that the depths of discipleship, church planting, all that has to do with the proliferation of the Kingdom, is first and foremost about Christ-followers who are willing to actually be like Christ in their relationships. We must make ourselves nothing, taking on the very nature of servants (Phil 2:7).
Any man can have a wife, but only a man who dies can have a bride. And guess what? Men with brides make for good elders, something vitally necessary for a healthy, vibrant church...just ask Jesus how he planted his first (and only) church.
Hope this was of some benefit to you.

Traver Dougherty
The Banqueting Table