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Mar '05

Phase One: Mr Mom…

Today begins my month “between churches.” It really isn’t really between churches. We have started Eutmos and are up and running. Our weekly team meetings are going on every Tuesday evening. May 7 we begin our first Weekend Gathering. It seems almost like I have a month off but I really dont.

Today Heidi started working full time. She is nannying full time until June. Then she goes part time. With her working so much I now have a new title…MR Mom!

I am overseeing all of the household responsibilities. It is only my first day but I am enjoying it immensely. I have time to spend with God and worship before I have to get all of the house work done…Oh and what is more…I get to continue to do the things needed to start this church.

Today I am meeting with a good friend: Will. That should be fun. Also I got to do some research on getting my car in tip top shape, fix the washing machine…it has been a productive day and all this before 10:30!

I have some more phone calls to make but I will keep updating this page with more info as it becomes available.

Mar '05

Etumos – True, Genuine

What is in a name? Nothing…and…everything. Naming the new church has been an interesting, unique process. It is not like I have never named anything before. I mean I named all three of my kids with the help of my wife. I named this Blog. I have even named a few dogs. But naming a church…That is something I have never done before. To be honest it was difficult.

When you name your kids there are really only two people that you have to take into consideration yourself and your spouse. There is the child to take into consideration as well, but what it realliy comes down to is what you and your spouse feel would be the best (or if you’re a woman, the cutest) name for your child. Naming a church is very different. There are many more people’s perspective to take into account. There are the people on your leadership team. Thre are those who will hear the name in the community. There are those you are trying to reach. There’s God. It is really a big responsibility.

We have had a number of suggested names. At one point I even considered the name NEO. It came out of an email from a friend who said he liked the whole “neo-Christian vibe thing we [had] going on.” I will not give you the full list but let’s say that everyone had an oppinion about the name.

The will of God is a mysterious thing. I sometimes wonder if we really have a grasp on the will of God. What I mean is; is what we have been taught about the will of God really in line with what God himself would tell us? For many we look at the will of God as this one dimentional, narrow path that is difficult to find and even more difficult to follow for any period of time. I am sure that there are some things in life which are this way but what if most of the issues in which we are asking God to show us his ways are issues that he has left up to us?

I have been praying for the past two months about what God’s will is for the name of our church. Want to know what I have concluded? He doesn’t really care. I have come to the conclusion that God is more concerned with the people that will be attending this church than what we call it. I came to this as I was talking to a good friend (Some of you will know him as “Patrick the Protestor”) He said to me as we were discussion the name for the church, “My wife and I really don’t care as much about the name of the church as we care about what the church will be like.” This was a revelation to me. Dan Johnson and Rick Enloe of Next Leadership Association said to me recently, “A name will either hurt you or do nothing for you,” and I think they are right. I have gone to some amazing churches with really lame names. I will not list them for you but we have all heard names of churches that we think of as corny but people are growing in God there and coming to know Christ.

All of that said I have decided that we are going to call our church Etumos Community. It is pronounced “ee” “two” “mose.” “ee” as in tree. “Two” like the number and “mose” as in rhymes with “close but no cigar!” It is a greek word for true or genuine. That is what we seek to establish: genuine community.

I will post our logo as soon as I get it back from the graphic designer.

Mar '05

Viral Church: Part Deux

The concept of Viral is one that I whole heartedly believe in. I am however having a hard time fitting some of the concept of it into a church context. There are 6 principals to viral marketing that I have discussed here before. It is not those 6 principals that I am having problems with it is applying those principals to a leadership structure.

For example we have just started our church with a group of people that we have relationship

with and would love to help out with this plant. As I talked about in Viral Part 1 they are an incredibly diverse group of people. One of the most diverse I have ever worked with. The problem comes when I start to try to identify the “leadership team” in the group. There are a good group of people but not everyone of them would be a “leader.” Most if not all of them will be one day but right now some are not.

In trying to determine what the leadership structure in a viral church looks like I am having a hard time identifying what all the parts are. In a traditional church structure you have a pastor who is usually looked at as the “CEO” of the church. Below him are the church board. These can be given a number of very biblical sounding names but in reality the are just a board of directors in the very traditional sense. Below them are sub-groups, support personnel, ministry leaders, etc. In a viral church there is no top down structure. The role of “the leader” in a viral setting changes. Not only does the role of the leader change but the role of all leadership changes. If you remember the six principals of Viral then you will remember that things are kind of organic. I was looking over the six principals and began to come to a realization: No organization can truly eliminate top down leadership. You can change the way that leadership treats everyone and you can change the values that leadership operate by, but you cannot eliminate top down leadership completely.

Before we get totally into this, let’s review the six principals:

1. Gives away products or services
2. Provides for effortless transfer to others
3. Scales easily from small to very large
4. Exploits common motivations and behaviors
5. Utilizes existing communication networks
6. Takes advantage of others’ resources

As I sat and read through the principals something began to strike me as interesting. “Gives away products or services…” who determines what products or services are going to be given away? Who determines the system that will be scalable? Who decides what common motivations best suit the project? The only answer I could come up with was the very top leadership. Maybe it is the fact that my thinking is still steeped in “modern” structures, but how do you structure a Viral church? I am beginning to think that how a church structured is not nearly as important as the values it holds.

Let me explain. In a traditional church structure the top level (we’ll call this level 1) would be held by the pastor. In the secondary level you would have either a board or pastoral staff. This may vary depending on what kind of church and denominational background but for the most part one of the two of these would be on level 2. In level three you would find subcommittees, ministry leaders, small group leadership or just the lay leaders of the church. The fourth level would be made up of average congregants. This is a very simplistic structure but you get the point.

How does a viral church structure itself so that the six principals may be employed? Easy…However it wants to. I am beginning to see that viral would work in any structure. The only thing that Viral depends on is a culture that sees Viral as the best way to propagate. If a pastor has to have his hands on every step down the line and get constant progress reports, Viral would be stifled. But a reluctance to “let go” of the process is an attitudes issue not a structural one. Viral would be easier to implement in a true team structure, but could work just fine in a traditional top down structure as long as the top leaders (levels 1 and 2) have a common DNA that values team, empowerment and flexibility. The top leaders must see the “Intelligence in the Leaves” principal as a necessity. “Intelligence in the Leaves,” is a principal that takes the power and responsibility out of the hands of the clergy and gives I to the individual believers. Think of it as the difference between a traditional mainframe/node computer set up and the Internet. This value is the only necessity for any church structure to implement Viral.

Over the next few days I am going to begin trying to figure out what structures would most easily support Viral.

Mar '05

A Few highlights of the last couple of days:

Todd Hunter Phone Call.

For those of you who don’t know who Todd Hunter is, he is one of my spiritual heroes (http://www.toddhunter.org).

So a couple of weeks ago I emailed Todd and asked him some questions about the “emerging church.” He said that he would like to set up a time to talk to me on the phone and so yesterday was that day. It was really cool. He is a fountain of knowledge. Todd used to be the president of Vineyard Churches of America and is currently the President of Alpha Courses USA.

We talked about why churches that are “emergent” aren’t growing. He was telling me that of all the churches that are “emergent” that most are not growing by conversion….Very interesting because I thought that that was one of the goals of the “emergent” church movement. Doing church differently does not interest me at all….Doing church that is effective to reaching our culture that interests me. We also talked about church discipline in the context of the “emergent” church. And finally he basically told me to forget emergent or not emergent just do what God tells me. Advise that God himself gave me from the beginning and something I have really been trying to do from the get go. Talking with Todd was really encouraging. To be completely honest I was hoping he would say something like, “Man Chris, you seem to really have it all together and sound like you are doing something really cool…Let me be your mentor…Call me every 2 days and tell me what is going on with your church.” Of course he didn’t because it was a 10 minute phone call. But I do now have Todd Hunter’s Cell Phone number!

In other news…

Our second team meeting for the Wallingford Church Plant was AMAZING! Our team is incredibly diverse yet there is a ton of like thinking and unity. We talked about the name (which we still don’t have but I am toying around with Etumos). We did a community study of several verses in Matthew that talk about what the church is supposed to be or what Christ’s mission was and it was really enlightening. Very cool stuff when the Holy Spirit speaks through a collective voice. We ended with taking communion and I think it was one of the most poignant communion times I have ever been a part of. I know I may feel this way because it is new and all but I really feel like God definitely has his hand on this church. He is going to use it to change people’s lives. The coolest part is that it has almost nothing to do with any individual including myself. I really LOVE our team. If you are reading this PRAY FOR US!

Well that is the update…For the Chris Cochran blog…I’m Chris Cochran

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