Lucas O’Neill is a smart man pastoring a small church. And so, in his mind, leading the church to join a network was no conundrum. He knew that Christian Fellowship Church would be best served by joining a network of like-minded churches. He just needed to figure out which one. I’m glad he and the elders landed with us at FiveStone Churches.
Lucas gets it. He wants the church to grow stronger in every way, but he does not measure success with the dominant stick of how many and how large.
We have good people in our church, he said. But it’s tough to gain strength when you’re alone as a pastor and as a church. I like the strengthening aspect of FiveStone Churches and the commitment to protect and build the local church. It’s refreshing for our people and for me to be part of something more than ourselves.
As Lucas and I grew to know one another during the past several months, we resonated in the conviction that the local church must be independent at its core, yet committed to the wisdom of uniting with those who share convictions of doctrine, governance and practice. We agreed that FiveStone Churches would be hands-on in the relationship to help the local church grow stronger. We would Edify, Protect, Encourage and Support. But, at the same time, the local church is not to be controlled by forces and interests from outside the local congregation. Whatever influence I have in the local church, for example, is based in the relationship I have with the pastors and elders and other leaders. And so comes one of our core convictions: We influence by relationship, not mandate.
As I said at the opening, Lucas is a smart man. In addition to his pastoring role, he teaches homiletics as an adjunct professor at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and is working on a doctor of ministry degree in preaching at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Boston. He pastors a church small in number but large in other ways. I suspect that Christian Fellowship Church will grow larger in many ways.
Click here to read a FiveStone Churches news article about the church and Lucas.
And, one more thing, A small church can be a great church.