Makin' it Local (All-Skate)

FAIR WARNING: This post is an “all-skate” post. I really want everyone—especially everyone in Jacksonville—to jump in on the comments!

When other church leaders see your organization as the third most innovative and fourth most influential church in America, it stands to reason you’ll take some criticism. And really, that’s only fair, because we learned from watching Spiderman that “with much power comes much responsibility.”

So, we shouldn’t be afraid to engage our critics, and although we shouldn’t let them sap our energy or blur our focus, we should be open to learning from them.

This past week we’ve gotten a few knocks in the blogosphere, and I wanted to allow you, the readers, to respond to one concern in particular. It’s an important issue, but I can’t answer it all by myself.

You see, some (who’ve never visited Access Church or any other North Point Partner) are concerned that we are not “local” enough. They contend that in order for us to be relevant in Jacksonville, Andy Stanley would have to live in Jacksonville and attend Access Church. These critics maintain that since Andy doesn’t know the “needs of our congregation” he can’t effectively be our teaching pastor.

I understand that the video-preacher thing takes a little getting used to, but I think the negative rationale is inconsistent at best.

If Andy did live here, could he live anywhere in town or would he have to live on my side of the city? How long would he have to live here before we considered him local?

What about other aspects of the church? Do they not have to be “local?” Should we write our own children’s curriculum and groups materials? Should we not read books by authors from outside Jacksonville? What about our worship songs? Tomlin, Crowder, Hillsong…(Australia?!)—scratch them all. Not from our city.

Okay, I’ve tipped my hand a bit. You might have figured out which way I’m leaning. Nevertheless, it is an issue we talk about in staff meetings and something we constantly work at. How do we insure that we are a locally functioning body of Christ and not just the latest outpost of a national franchise?

I have some thoughts of my own…many of which revolve around the importance we place on groups and strategic service. But this is where I want to hear your thoughts. Jacksonvillians, please—tell us what makes Access “local” to you, and not just a TV church.

Click on the comments tag and go for it!