Spent Matches By Roy Moran

Spent Matches

By: Roy Moran

ISBN: 978-0-7180-3062-9

READ: February 2019

RATING: 8/10

Summary: Spent matches does an amazing job unpacking the problem facing American Christianity. Moran, a pastor, courageously critiques our forms of church and challenges the reader to consider whether they are accomplishing the Biblical function of church. The first four chapters are the strength of the book, but the last five chapters are also very strong as Moran unveils what his church is learning about effectively reaching unchurched people. I found his insights true to my experience and ministry paradigm. He skillfully challenges formulaic approaches without proposing a new form. This is tough to achieve. I felt the book could have been stronger with a tighter writing style and condensing a couple chapters. Overall, very profitable read especially for pastors and church leaders.

Chapter titles are: Part 1: The Problem 1. Telling Family Secrets 2. The Great Commission 3. Correcting the Great Mistake 4. From Ministry to Movement Part Two: The Solution 5. Hybrid Church 6. Discovering the Journey 7. The Seven Journeys 8. Lessons from an Unlikely Place 9. Movement-Ready People


“I’ve always felt people need to be reminded more than they need to be informed.” Pg. xvii

“My hope is to antagonize you enough to ignite an exploration that helps you question the way you read the Bible, which then turns into an exploration that challenges the way you’ve always done things.” Pg. xviii

Chapter 1: Telling Family Secrets

“I love to create environments in which people can safely approach a very dangerous message about life.” Pg. 3

“Stockdale told Collins, ‘You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to love—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.’ This is the lesson, now referred to as the Stockdale Paradox, church leaders need to learn.” Pg. 4

“Pointing out the truth regarding the church is often deemed critical, negative, and unspiritual. Therefore, Christians tend to spin brutal facts in a positive way. Being positive and encouraging is certainly an attribute to be desired, but when it masks reality, we become like Stockdale’s optimists!” pg. 4

“Our modern aversion to motivating by guilt keeps us from maturing in our skills at handling negative information and actions.” Pg. 4

“This means that in AD 2000, the percentage of Christians in the world was nearly the same as in AD 1900.” Pg. 10

“Annually, 55 million new people are counted as Christian. When we unpack that number; we realize that 42 million of those are children born to Christian families, while only 19 million are people who become new followers of Jesus, otherwise known as converts.” Pg. 11

“Gordon Conwell’s Center for the Study of Global Christianity calculated the cost of baptizing one person globally in 2014 was $753,000.” Pg. 11

“I am arguing that the church is becoming increasingly ineffective, not extinct.” Pg. 14

“From 1990 to 2006, the US population grew by almost 60 million, yet church attendance increased by half a million. You would be hard pressed to find a state in the United States that has shown an increase in church attendance in the last decade.” Pg. 15

“Even though it is difficult to keep all the statistics straight, it becomes increasingly discouraging when you see them together: 1. Of the 350 thousand churches in the United States, less than 1% is growing by conversion growth. 2. Globally, even though we see 19 million conversions each year, we also see 19 million defectors from the Christian faith. 3. In America, 9 out of 10 churches are declining or growing at a pace slower than the rate of their communities. 4. The average established church declines by 2% per year. 5. Evangelical churches aren’t baptizing nearly enough people to keep up with population growth. Among the white middle class, church has been their political, economic, and social base; they rarely make a true adult convert. The great majority of people being baptized in evangelical churches are already baptized Christians and children.” Pg. 16

“When Yale researchers studied the 12 million ‘True Love Waits’ pledge takers, they found that 88% of them had sex before they were married, thus violating their pledges.” Pg. 17

“Despite the hip, cool, culturally relevant methods that churches have employed, the fact remains that people who don’t go to church don’t like people who do.” Pg. 19

“Depending on the researchers, between 60 and 88 percent of churched youth will not attend church in their twenties.” Pg. 21

“We seem to have jumped right over Jesus and gone straight to Paul, building our methodologies off the apostolic movement of the gospel. From Jerusalem to Antioch and beyond.” Pg. 21

“Here’s my agenda, plain and simple: there could be a different way of doing things.” Pg. 22

“Data shows that every one of us lives in an under-reached, if not unreached area.” Pg. 23

“All too often, Christians confuse confronting the brutal facts with lack of faith. It is possible both to believe that Jesus was true and faithful when He said that the gates of Hell will not prevail against His church and to admit the poor progress of the church through the centuries, not to mention the lack of maturity among those who call themselves Christians.” Pg. 23

Chapter 2: The Great Commission

“The ancient philosopher Epictetus cautioned that it is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows. I have been guilty of overlooking the obvious because I presume to be familiar with a subject or passage.” Pg. 26

“He [Jesus] was quite comfortable with a team that didn’t have it all together. In fact, He was comfortable commissioning people who not only lacked complete faith but were confirmed doubters.” Pg. 27

“Quite the opposite happens today in our discipleship programs. We attempt to fill disciples’ minds with knowledge so they are qualified to travel with a life-changing message. Only then do we release them to make new disciples, to become ‘disciplers’.” Pg. 28

“He commissions doubters as well as worshipers to take a message of hope and healing to the ends of the earth.” Pg. 28

“Jesus couldn’t conceive of His disciples not going!” pg. 30

“No matter how you measure the practice of the church, multiplicative disciple-making (disciple-making that multiplies) has not been tried and found wanting; rather it has been tried, found difficult, and abandoned.” Pg. 31

“The energies that have been piled into disciple-making have, for the most part, involved a knowledge-based approach.” Pg. 31

“To be a follower of Christ is to be on mission. I think Jesus would find foreign the concept of a person becoming a Christian but not becoming a disciple until later when he or she becomes more committed to faith.” Pg. 33

“Make disciples! Make learners, people who are ordering their lives around the Creator’s wishes.” Pg. 33

“We’ve taught people to share their faith without sharing their lives.” Pg. 35

“We are about knowledge, not obedience.” Pg. 36

“In reality, knowing doesn’t lead to obeying.” Pg. 36

“ In doing this, Jesus didn’t fear the label of legalism, but boldly placed ‘teaching to obey all my commands’ at the heart of His methodology.” Pg. 37

“The word ‘nations’ is plural and refers to all the heathen or non-Israelite peoples; every tribe, language, people, and nation.” Pg. 39

“Jesus didn’t call me to cause people to mature in their spiritual journeys. He called me to make disciple-making disciples. Replication is central to the last command of Jesus.” Pg. 42

“We are addicted to personal peace and comfort, so creating disequilibrium in people always promotes growth, and I love to be in the middle of it.” Pg. 42

“The Great Commission is not just a command; it is a mission statement. It is Jesus’ strategic plan to see the good news reach every generation in every geographic location on earth.” Pg. 44

“History has shown that we can do what we call discipleship without making disciples.” Pg. 44

Chapter 3: Correcting the Great Mistake

“How would Jesus comment on this? I think he might accuse us of ‘Ecclesialotry.’Yes, we have become worshippers of form—church.” Pg. 49

“They [the disciples] seemed to know that if you make disciple-making disciples, the result is always biblically functioning community—Jesus’ church.” Pg. 49

“The Greek term for church, ekklesia, referred to a group called for a special purpose. Jesus’ ekklesia was called to spread His message of hope and healing through a reconnection with the Creator God. It was never an end in itself.” Pg. 50

“Our church is so warped that George Hunter in Church for the Unchurched says that the church might be the biggest obstacle for people connecting with God.” Pg. 51

“When we plant churches, what we really do is start church services.” Pg. 52

“The energy required to do this is enormous: recruiting and training key volunteers to lead small groups, children’s ministry, youth ministry, set-up/tear down teams, and financial teams to name a few.” Pg. 52

“It just isn’t possible to build the Kingdom of Jesus and plant a church or gather a missional community at the same time. Churches are planted today so that they can build the kingdom tomorrow. Missional communities are formed so that they can incarnate Jesus where they are. In order to achieve success, I must get the church system functioning or the missional community system functioning so that it can become a kingdom-building entity.” Pg. 53

“The truth is that we haven’t figured out how to do multiplicative disciple making! So we plant churches in hopes that disciples will appear. And then we inevitably act surprised when they don’t.” pg. 53

“I am often perplexed as to why we can accept the use of the term church for Arab brothers and sisters who meet secretly as a family in their home in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, but when someone calls what looks like a small groups a ‘church’ in North America, we get all bent out of shape.” Pg. 55

“No organism starts fully formed. There is a developmental process that is driven by the DNA encased in its primal cellular structure. If it grows too quickly , there are a set of issues that it faces; if it grows too slowly, there are another set of issues it faces.” Pg. 59

“One problem in North America is that we are minimalist but maximalist.” Pg. 59

“The right ingredients need to be in place to get the kind of church Jesus envisioned: a core groups of men and women who are growing in their desire to obey Jesus and inviting those where they live, learn, work, and play to join them. Having a multiplicative disciple-making strategy in place should be the first priority in our church-planting strategy.” Pg. 60

“Complexity doesn’t necessarily overburden the organism, just as the Bible didn’t overburden the church with structure. We are not told when to meet, what is supposed to happen when we meet, how big or small we should be; nor are we given any other particulars, except the kind of character our key influencers should have.” Pg. 61

“He [Paul in 1 Tim. 3:1 and Titus 1:5] was describing the character of those who aren’t appointed leaders but are recognized for what is already being produced by the Spirit in them.” Pg. 62

“If you want the train to go in a different direction, you are going to need a lot of people who have already bought into moving in one direction to agree to go in another. That doesn’t work well with people, especially not with church people.” Pg. 67

“Statistics show that the American church is less generous now, after a half-century of unprecedented prosperity, than it was at the depth of the Great Depression.” Pg. 68

“Worldwide, eight out of every ten non-Christians don’t even know a Christian.” Pg. 69

Chapter 4: From Ministry to Movement

“Shifts in thinking come in two ways: rapid and radical.” Pg. 71

Three areas where our thought patterns are restricting the free flow of the gospel. 1. From Knowledge to Obedience 2. From Analysis to Synthesis 3. From Teachers to Learning Designers

“They [the Hebrews] couldn’t conceive of knowing and doing being separate….God was not someone to be primarily understood, but one to be obeyed.” Pg. 74

“As this has played out in modern days, we see that the definition of discipleship has, for the most part, become an acquisition of knowledge, hoping that it will then spur holy action in the physical world.” Pg. 75

“This Greek way of thinking seduces us into assuming that more is better…..We get this in theory when it comes to calories. Hitting the buffet restaurant several times a week challenges a person’s girth. Unless there is adequate exercise commensurate with the calorie intake, dangerous health issues can arise. The same is true when we ingest large amounts of truth without appropriate acts of obedience.” Pg. 76

“The God of the Bible is meant to be related to and obeyed.” Pg. 77

“Conversely, the failure of modern Christianity to understand our platonic way of separating the material and the spiritual is the Achilles heel to the spreading of the good news. This great big fat Greek way of thinking has led us to favor analysis rather than synthesis in our handling of the Bible.” Pg. 77

“The disciples job was to witness, not persuade.” Pg. 78

“He [Scot McKnight, in King Jesus Gospel] suggests that we’ve created a community of consumers who are brand loyal but who fail to understand the nature of allegiance when it comes to what Jesus asked us to do.” Pg. 79

“Adults have a high degree of commitment to their own conclusions and a low degree of commitment to conclusions given to them by others.” Pg. 83

“To see people change, grow, and rethink life, we need to disturb that equilibrium.” Pg. 85

“In fact, a cursory survey of church history reveal that most major heresies in the past two thousand years find their source in trained clergy and not the untrained.” Pg. 88

“Even Socrates, the great Greek philosopher, said, “I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.” Pg. 89

Eight questions non-questions need to answer: 1. Where did everything come from? 2. Is there any meaning to this life? 3. Who do I listen to for authoritative advice on life? 4. Does human history lead anywhere, or is it all in vain since death is merely the end? 5. Where do we look to determine what is good or bad, right or wrong? 6. Why don’t I ever feel good enough? 7. Who is Jesus and how should I understand Him in relationship to God? 8. What is my place in what God is up to in this world? Pg. 93-94

Chapter 5: Hybrid Church

“Allen suggested that if our strategy can’t attain what Jesus commanded us to do then we ought to change our strategy.” Pg. 98

“From day one we were very clear: we don’t feed people; we teach them to feed themselves.” Pg. 99

“When you create dependencies on people or institutions for spiritual growth, you make the gospel heavy and unable to move swiftly.” Pg. 100

“A fresh reading [of Matthew 28] created new insight. Not only was I responsible for making disciples, but my disciples were responsible for making disciples as well.” Pg. 105

“On one side, we ask people to invite their friends aggressively; on the other we train people no to mention Shoal Creek unless asked.” Pg. 106

“The counterintuitive nature of disciple-making movements was something that couldn’t be marked; it had to be caught, not taught.” Pg. 107

Disciple Making Movements Strategy has six characteristics: 1. God ordained 2. Spirit dependent 3. Bible centered 4. Obedience focused 5. Discovery based 6. Disciple driven pg. 109

“In brief, DMM turns average followers of Christ into even planners, rather than salesmen for Jesus, so that they can invite their friends, neighbors, and workmates into small groups designed to hear from God through reading the Bible, obeying what He says, and sharing it with their social networks.” Pg. 110

“At the forefront of this metamorphosis is a love for people who are far from God….A passion for the lost then formed in us a desire to grow a church that focuses on people far from God, to bring Jesus’ kingdom from heaven to earth.” Pg. 111

Six values of creating come/go strategy: 1. Love people who are far from God 2. Build Jesus’ Kingdom on earth 3. Get in touch with our ‘inner revolutionary’ 4. Accept failure as the path to success 5. Train, train, train 6. Challenge Dunning-Kruger Disease. Pgs. 110-119

The Dunning Kruger Effect is the belief that our greatest enemy is not what we know but what we don’t know that we don’t know. Pg. 118

“Epictetus said, ‘It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.’” Pg. 118

“Movements live and die on good mentoring and coaching.” Pg. 119

Chapter 6: Discovering a Journey

“I am facing at least a thousand years of church history or better and suggesting that we may have been doing it wrong al this time.” Pg. 121

“At Shoal Creek, we no longer teach people to share their faith. In the culture I live in people don’t want to know what you believe or why you believe it. They don’t want to be sold on a proposition, they are interested in your life. And if you learn to share your life rather than a set of facts that you believe in, they will engage.” Pg. 122

“The self-replicating nature [of the discovery process] frees the gospel from the forms of church, missional communities, and discipleship programs and lets the gospel run free through social networks.” Pg. 123

“The vision for groups is not to build community, grow relationally, and build a tribe to do life with. Both Discovery Group and Journey Group facilitators are taught to think about generational growth.” Pg. 126

“We also want our facilitators to understand that this is a process of discovery. People buy into, believe, and act on their own conclusions far more than the conclusions given to them by other people.” Pg. 127

“The success of facilitators is determined not by how much but by how little they talk.” Pg. 128

“The more we do for people the worse off they are. It is no wonder we have a lethargic church in the West. Most of what flies under the name of ministry is a subtle codependent relationship between leaders and followers: leaders who need to be needed and followers who want someone besides themselves to be responsible for their spiritual journey.” Pg. 129

Chapter 7: The 7 Journeys

The 7 Journeys is the Shoal Creek paradigm for spiritual life. They are: 1. Earner to Heir – Trust 2. Self-Hearted to Soft-Hearted -Obey 3. Receiver to Giver – Share 4. Isolation to Community – Relate 5. Consumer to Producer – Serve 6. Charitable to Extravagant – Give 7. Traveler to Guide – Disciple

“Instead of emphasizing fixed growth points, the 7 Journeys focuses on movement.” Pg. 145

“Despite how you define a person entering into the family of God, either by a gradual process or a sudden event, everyone has a lifelong journey of discovering that the earner mentality is embedded in their flesh.” Pg. 145

“Our work is to deepen people’s relationship with God.” Pg. 146

“My understanding of my position in God’s family directly relates to how I am able to serve God using the resources He has given me.” Pg. 147

“Moving from earner to heir in our relationship with God requires that we stop trusting in ourselves and our efforts to please God and begin to trust in who He is and that what He has done is sufficient for our place in His family.” Pg. 148

Three key understandings: 1. What we think is good or right can actually be disruptive to our spiritual growth. 2. We are worse off than we think, but we are more loved by God than we could ever imagine. 3. We won’t grow as fast as we desire. Pg. 149

“The initial movement in transformation is becoming aware of our ignorance, which takes us to the second stage in achieving conscious incompetence.” Pg. 151

“The genius of what we’ve learned resides in the simplicity. NO other books or curriculum than the Bible. Focusing on obedience is the goal of looking at the Bible. Igniting excitement about growing toward God stimulates sharing with others. Replication begins at that point.” Pg. 154

Chapter 8: Leadership Lessons from an Unlikely Place

“One of the gravest mistakes you can make is to implement a new strategy in old ways. Jesus phrased this as putting new wine into old win skins (Mark 2:22). It has the same success rate as finding a cool new app for an iPhone and trying to get it on an Android—two different platforms built on two different languages. Even though they share some things in common, they are not compatible, nor will things designed for one work on the other.” Pg. 171

“Here is the litmus test: If I can equip you with a new way of thinking and acting about the Great Commission, and if this will not add one volunteer to your church, dollar to your offering plate, or attender to your church services, but does grow Jesus’ kingdom, would you be interested? Don’t kid yourself here because the answer to this question is vital to your success in implementing any kind of multiplicative strategy.” Pg. 174

“Radical change requires radical commitment.” Pg. 174

“Holy discontent is usually measured by those who have a vision of what could happen but feel that the existing structures prevent them from acting on or don’t give them permission to act.” Pg. 176

“Getting outside of your current Christian context will bring energy that is hard for you to imagine.” Pg. 177

“Starting at the fringes rather than the front seats sets you up for the best possible long-term success.” Pg. 179

Chapter 9: Movement-Ready People

“Movement-ready people believe there is more power in reading and obeying the truth of God than in preaching or teaching the truth.” Pg. 190

“Through obedience to God’s commands, we express our dependence on Him and acknowledge His wisdom above ours.” Pg. 191

“Movement-ready people know that telling people what to believe is never as effective as helping them hear from God and decide for themselves if He is worthy of obeying.” Pg. 191

“For movements to take place in the West, we will need to have more mentally flexible leaders, people of influence who will challenge their paradigms and read the texts of the Bible unfiltered by theological frameworks and religious history that challenges their current mental models.” Pg. 195

“Christian leaders need to radically and ruthlessly reexamine the faulty theological frameworks built through centuries of misreading the Bible.” Pg. 199

“Disciple making is the means, and spiritual growth is the end. We disciple so people can grow; we don’t grow them so they can disciple.” Pg. 200