I’ve known Roy Moran for several years. I’m not sure when our relationship started because he was cyberstalking me long before we met. When we finally met by phone, my thought was, This guy is nuts! But my wife reminded me that this is exactly what most people say about me. Our relationship has matured to weekends spent in skull sessions, lively discussions on many different topics, a willingness to call each other on our personal biases, a room in his house that he and his wife, Candy, insist is the David Watson room, and Roy sleeping on an air mattress in my game room and watching the Kansas City Royals play the final game of the 2014 World Series in the media room.
Our mutual nuttiness stems from different views of the same problem, and very different responses to that problem: the churches we grew up in and the churches we led are very different from the church as revealed in the Bible. I took my longing to see an obedient, Bible-based church outside the church by starting disciple-making movements that led to obedience-based churches in places where there were no existing churches. I started with a mostly clean slate.
Roy took the opposite, and much more difficult, approach. He worked within existing church structures and stretched them in extreme ways to cause change. He has often been a voice crying in the wilderness, but his is a voice that needs to be heard.
Spent Matches is a story we may not want to hear, but earnestly need to hear. The church is in trouble. It is not significantly changing lives, and certainly is no longer a major voice in Western culture. Membership in a church does not equate to allegiance to Christ, making it possible for a person to wear a cross, the symbol of Christ’s sacrifice for our redemption, and to want only continue in the sin for which Christ died. There is statistically little difference in the behavior of church members and the behavior of those who never go to church. Why is this a reality?
The church is losing the battle for the hearts and minds of those who don’t know Christ. Our relevance in modern society is dwindling, and our impact on those who call themselves Christian is limited. We have failed to produce disciple-making disciples, and continue to hold form as more important than function and our history more important than our future. As long as we look good it doesn’t seem to matter that there is a significant heart problem that is destroying us.
Roy Moran and his church, Shoal Creek, are on a journey to reverse this trend. Shoal Creek has embraced a lifestyle that shows people how to know God rather than simply know about God. They are active in attracting and in searching for those who want to know more about God, and who want to know how to discover for themselves how to live in a deep relationship with God and a right relationship with people. They have moved from discipleship programs to multiplicative disciple making.
Spent Matches is a roadmap for the modern church to discover how to make disciple-makers and have significant impact on families and communities. It will help you take a critical look at yourself and your church. It will show you some of the dead ends, as well as some of the highways to disciple-making disciples. It will lead you to becoming and developing self-feeding disciples who make self-feeding disciples. It will challenge you to fail forward quickly—learning from mistakes and endeavoring to never repeat them, and finding success where none was apparent. It will push you to train, train, train; and to train in an adaptive way that meets the diversity of the urban setting.
Roy does not simply outline the problems of the modern church; he proposes solutions that are variable and scalable to your situation. This is not a one-size-fits-all book. It is a process oriented book that will help you build your own solutions to the problems you face in your church. This book will not save you any time. It will pile the work on, but it will be meaningful work that will produce lasting results.
The practicality of Spent Matches will give you the starting points you need to make a difference in your ministry and your church. Approach it with prayer. Approach it with courage. Approach it with an open heart and mind. Let it hurt. Let it heal. Let it change your future.
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