Jesus is the greatest church planter the world has ever know.
According to the Gospels, Jesus’s public ministry only lasted about three years. In that time Jesus performed many miraculous signs and proclaimed massive truths. As a result, he grew at least three mega-churches. He was living every church planter’s dream! Yet, every time he grew a mega-church he blew it up. How? By lifting up the cross.
When religious leaders tried to theologize his mission he lifted up the cross (John 3).
When grass-roots folk tried to socialize and politicize his mission he lifted up the cross (John 6).
When curiosity seekers tried to popularize his mission he lifted up the cross (John 12).
When enemies tried to radicalize his mission he was lifted up on the cross (John 19).
This church-growth strategy produced the same results every time. It drove many people away from him; but it also drew some to him. Initially, it scattered far more than it gathered. Ultimately, as many as were won with the cross, were won to the cross. That’s why he lifted up the cross.
Thus, Jesus planted a modest cross-shaped church in the midst of a me, myself, and I-centered world. That small church made (and is making) a big difference in the world.
There is nothing cool, trendy, hip, innovative, or catchy about the cross. But there is something costly, true, holy, inspiring, and comforting about it. Even now, as many as come to Jesus by way of the cross, who look to the lifted up Christ, are members of his cruciform, counter-cultural, cast out church.
Cutting Room Floor / Exegetical Fragments by JMT