We have an enemy, but that enemy isn’t other churches.
If you have any kind of a church background, there is a good chance that you came from a “we are right, and they are wrong” perspective on other churches in your town. I was raised at a time when churches defined themselves much more by what (and who) they were against than what they were for. Maybe you can relate?
While our parents and pastors were well-meaning trying to protect us from what they perceived as a threat to a true relationship with God—the problem was that many of us were raised to think the church down the street was on the wrong team.
A refreshing perspective
What has been so refreshing about my almost 16 years at Kensington is that the men and women who lead this movement model a different approach when it comes to views on other churches. The modeling is made up of both belief and behavior.
The belief around here is that Jesus Christ is the Savior of everyone. That He is God who became human so that He could save us from broken and lost humanity and offer us forgiveness and eternal life. It is classic Christian theology.
Theology is important, and our view of Jesus is in the center circle. And there are other critical beliefs in the circle. But much of what people believe and practice is quite debatable, and not in the foundational center of our faith. Center circle stuff is locked down—not up for negotiation. But, what you believe about styles of music or versions of the Bible, or what to wear, or whether you should get baptized in a church or in a river—these are all quite negotiable.
I quickly learned that Kensington leaders celebrate all of the other kinds of churches! If a church is focusing on Jesus and encouraging people to give Him their lives, we are rooting for them. Period. No sideways remarks about Lutherans or Charismatics or Baptists or any other stripe you can imagine. Heck, one of our most talked about videos featured Steve Andrews and Father John Riccardo celebrating the similarities between the Protestants and Catholics in regard to Jesus!
There is an evil one that the Bible describes for us. This one was created by God but rebelled and now roams the world trying to discourage good, promote evil, destroy families, dance on people’s addictions and do everything that is opposite of the love and peace of God. That is our enemy. But, the church down the street that follows Jesus but does church differently than us is not our enemy.
Practice what we preach
We believe in this philosophy that it takes all kinds of different churches to reach all kinds of people so much so that we have invested in churches who practice church in a different way than Kensington. There is a beautiful diversity in the churches we helped launch, most recently in the East Bay of San Francisco, in the suburbs of Boston, and two nearby churches in St. Clair Shores and Grand Blanc. To date, we’ve invested resources to fuel 58 churches both near and far!
All four churches are gaining momentum and have exciting updates, all in their own unique ways:
Clint and Michaell Dupin’s church start-up in the East Bay region of San Francisco recently made headlines with Ousted Raiders coach Todd Downing’s support and relationship with Eastown. They just officially launched on Jan. 21 and are embracing every step of their new adventure.
With a dream to see the spiritual landscape of New England transformed, Liz and Colin Harfield are forming a launch team, raising support, and meeting new people in one of the least evangelized regions in the United States.
Antioch Shoreline Church
Meeting in St. Clair Shores, this growing vibrant church is all about making disciples. People are getting baptized and experiencing freedom in Christ for the first time!
Meeting in Grand Blanc, this new church start-up is on a mission to lead people toward Jesus. They just launched January 14 and are going strong!
The way we tend to behave that reinforces this belief is by:
1) Speaking highly of other churches, embracing their leaders and celebrating their successes
2) Partnering with other churches (different denominations, different ethnicities) on projects like church planting and large events
3) Praying for brand new church startups and giving them coaching, resources, and encouragement
4) Inviting anyone we know to attend any church that focuses on the truth about Jesus—not just Kensington—and celebrate it when they do
5) Focusing our efforts on reaching people that are disconnected from God and the church, not attracting people to leave other churches to come to Kensington
Given my degree in Systematic Theology, I love the nuances and details of belief, doctrine, and denomination. In that way, I am a bit of a church nerd. But I don’t worship doctrine. And I don’t worship the church. I worship Jesus Christ and am on the same team with anyone else who does. I do not want to spend my emotional energy being mad about another Christian church. There are way too many people out there disconnected from God on whom I would rather spend my energy. And that’s how we roll around here at Kensington. It’s way more fun.
-Greg Gibbs is the Director of Organizational Advancement at Kensington. He is on the Advisory Team and leads Church Planting. In addition to strategizing ways for Kensington to advance the gospel through developing leaders and new church startups, he spends a bulk of his time on the road as a Lead Navigator for Auxano, the company founded by Will Mancini. He coaches churches around the country on Vision Clarity, Long-Range Planning, and Developing Generosity. He and his wife Andrea have four children and a dog named Walter.