Before Attacking Problems: Pray – 3 Reasons Among Many

Pray First

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

I wrote earlier this week on my Productive GRACE system.

  1. Get serious about the vision
  2. Required resources
  3. Author a plan
  4. Consistently execute the plan
  5. Effectively adapt to changes

This is the way that I attack problems in everyday life.  The system is scalable and works for long term goals and short term goals alike.  I’m following it up with a few posts that dive in more specifically.  However, there is a pre-step.  The pre-step is prayer.  Pray First!  Prayer is a great gift that believers in Jesus don’t fall on enough.  It almost seems silly to write a list of reasons why we should pray about problems, but I think sometimes we all need reminders and at the very least I need the reminder (and this is my blog).

3 Reasons to Pray First

 

1) We are commanded to pray

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4.6)

When we are anxious, which is what I am when a problem arises, we are told to pray.  I’ve often heard this verse summarized in this way, “Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything”.  Pray about the thing that is on your mind and heart.  A loving father wants to hear from his children and specifically about those things that are making their hearts worry.  Pray.

2) Prayer brings peace

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)

Talking to my loving Father who also is the Sovereign God of all creation brings peace.  This peace goes beyond our mental capacities to understand, but it is truly there.  The next time you are anxious about some problem or goal, pray about it.

3) Prayer puts things in perspective

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)

When we pray about our anxious moments we are reminded that there is something greater than our worries or goals.  There is God’s Kingdom.  Those goals and worries shouldn’t be our first priority.  God’s Kingdom coming is the thing that matters most.  We need to capture perspective.

 

Next we’ll deal with what to do when there are problems.  However, before we talk about attacking problems why don’t you spend some significant time praying about those problems.  Let me point you to Philippians 4:4-7 and Matthew 6:25-34 for some further reading and study.

Productive Grace: 5 Steps To Attack Any Problem

Productive Grace

The grace that saves us also sanctifies us.  That grace also makes us productive.  Remember 1 Corinthians 15:10:

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 

Over the next several blog posts, I’m going to share my scalable system to frame up and attack any problem.  It is just as applicable to long range, multi-year goals as it is to attacking daily scheduling issues.

 

The Origin of My System

I became a Christian when I was 16, a week before my 17th birthday. I started a bible study at my high school. Through that I felt called into ministry.  I told my parents, they told me they disagreed. The next year, my senior year, we started the bible study again and saw 30 people cross the line of faith and connect to a church. I talked to my parents again about going to pursue a bible degree and they relented.  They said I had to go to Bob Jones University. I didn’t know anything about the school, but was just excited to go.

When I showed up on campus for freshman orientation I was given a student handbook, no big deal. Every place has rules. Then I got the dorm handbook.  I thought sure there are extra rules it’s a Christian school. Then I got a society handbook, then we got a sports handbook then we got a chapel rules sheet then another rule book for student government.

Then I learned that I was accountable for all the rules before classes started. That’s when demerits would start. I asked what demerits were. They explained the what happened.

  • 75 Demerits = Socialed.  Essentially, no contact with the opposite sex on campus.
  • 100 Demerits = Campused.  Students at this level weren’t allowed off campus except for church or approved ministry.
  • 150 Demerits = Expelled.  If you got to 150 demerits in a semester you were out.

 

Time to Get Serious

That’s when I got serious. I needed to get out, but needed the degree.  I figured my shelf life there may be 4 years but more likely I’d blow up by then. So one Friday night I sold out to the idea: I must graduate in 3 years. I sat down with the course books, an outdated idea today, and started looking and working.  I went through multiple iterations, but by bed time (yes that was a real thing) I’d worked it out.

I started in the fall of 1999 and in June of 2002 I graduated with a BA in Bible na double minor in Counseling and Computer Science without any debt. How?  I learned the importance of envisioning a goal and attacking it.  Since then I’ve developed a way to attack any problem.

 

The Productive GRACE system for problem solving and planning

The grace that saves us also sanctifies us.  That grace also makes us productive.  Remember 1 Corinthians 15:10:

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 

1) Get serious about the vision

  • Ask: What is the preferred reality?
  • Write out what it looks like.

2) Required resources 

  • Ask: What resources do I need to accomplish this vision.
  • Assemble the named resources.

3) Author a plan

  • Ask: What does this look like specifically.
  • Write down a specific plan.

4) Consistently execute the plan

  • Ask: What do I need to DO right now to make this plan move forward?
  • Keep asking this question repetitively.

5) Effectively adapt to changes

  • Ask: What are the changes that are taking place that could change my plan?
  • Things happen.  Change is going to be necessary along the way.

 

Over the next few posts I’m going to break down each of these pieces to look long range and also short term.  Check it out frequently.

Clarifying Some Criticism

My Response to the Review of Proliferate by 9Marks

 

9Marks

On June 20, 2017 my book, Proliferate, was reviewed by 9Marks in their journal on church planting.  You can read the review here.  I was honored to be reviewed by a ministry I hold in such high esteem.  I have frequently leaned on 9Marks as a source of God-honoring and gospel-focused resources.  Though I was grateful for the kind words they offered, I wanted to take the opportunity to respond to what I thought were some unfounded criticisms.

The thing with 9Marks is that sometimes they aren’t always the most practically-minded folks, which they admit freely. Ed Stetzer wrote a piece about it in the same journal, What 9Marks Purists Should Know About Church Planting.  It’s a great piece, and shows that 9Marks is aware of a few of their blindspots.

My response to John Joseph of 9Marks

The Background of Proliferate

 

The bulk of this book is a more reader-friendly version of the Doctor of Ministry Project that I presented at Southern Seminary in May of last year.  In that project, I shared our plan to multiply as a young church, and we were able to do so and do so effectively.  We were blessed to see God do amazing things through our small church plant as we multiplied by God’s leadership and for His glory. I was encouraged by professors and other ministry leaders to share both our story, and the practical steps we took to multiply effectively in a more reader-friendly, less academic piece.

The thought was that small churches needed to be involved in church multiplication. As many have observed, one of the reasons that churches die is because they are inwardly-focused. My prayer was to “awaken a mighty force in this world of churches that feel like they are irrelevant. And that maybe through the Holy Spirit’s help this book might encourage many Everyday Church pastors and leaders to equip their churches to proclaim the gospel through church planting and multiplication.”

 

The plan is for this book to be used as a practical piece for conventions, networks, and associations to encourage the small churches in their care to engage in church multiplication.  Emphasis on “practical.” It was not intended to be a theological treatise, but to address an  audience of network and denominational leaders, and small-church pastors and planters, and encourage them to find a way to be involved in the important work of church multiplication.

 

1)  Critique One: My Aim Wasn’t Met

In terms of the first critique offered — I will leave it to each reader of my book to decide for themselves whether my aim was satisfactorily accomplished.

2) Critique Two: Questionable Handling of Scripture

I do take strong issue with the second critique. I pointed this subject out earlier in chapter 3. At the end of the chapter I said,

“As all good, theologically conservative Bible interpreters will tell you, we shouldn’t build doctrine from Acts, much less from three verses. We can learn principles, however, that will help as we look to multiply our churches and efforts. These are key verses in the growth of the church, and they serve as the foundation for much of modern-day church planting.”(Kindle Location: 803)

Additionally, I wrote that my point wasn’t to encourage people to teach and preach the word faithfully, mentioning that as a brief aside in a more stream-of-consciousness moment. The main idea there was that they were using their gifts.

“The leaders that were mentioned are leaders with communication gifts. The leaders at Antioch possessed the gift of prophecy and the gift of teaching. They called out sin, taught the Scriptures, and called people to greater love for the gospel. They were seeing disciples made and multiplied.  These faithful prophets and teachers tilled the soil so that it was fertile so church multiplication sprouted.”  (Kindle Location: 1374)

I was not making an argument in this particular case to be faithful to the Word. My argument was that they were using their gifts, and in the faithful use of their gifts the soil for multiplication was readied.

3) Critique Three: Crandall’s Assumption

The final critique I believe to be a potential misunderstanding or perhaps a misreading. Mr. Joseph says, “Crandall clearly believes Everyday Churches can and should multiply rapidly.” However, I make the point repeatedly that not every church should multiply, but that every church should be involved in the work of multiplication. I said this clearly throughout the book. Here are a few examples:

“In this book I make the argument that all churches should be involved in church multiplication in some manner. This isn’t to say that all churches should be involved in multiplication in the same way, but they all need to be involved in the proliferation of gospel-centered churches both nationally and internationally.” (Kindle Location: 184)

“This book has a simple premise: every church, regardless of size, can be significant in the cause of gospel proclamation through church planting. Every church, regardless of size, should be involved in church proliferation. Let me be clear, not every church should be engaged in church proliferation in the same way, but every church needs to find its role in this effort.” (Kindle Location: 362)

“We all need to think about church multiplication but this doesn’t mean we multiply in the exact same ways. Some churches will be sending out plants consistently, year after year. Some churches should release (and fund) a young leader to plant a church in an area that is relatively nearby. Some churches should take serious percentages of their budget and use them toward multiplication rather than random building improvements. Some churches should do all of those things. Some churches should open their buildings up to different ethno-linguistic church plants. Some churches should consider closing their doors to give the keys of God’s property to a church moving forward and growing and seeking to plant more churches for the glory of God.” (Kindle Location: 794)

“The key to capturing your church’s vision for participating in multiplication is bound up in your particular church culture.” (Kindle Location: 1253)

“Not all churches are going to have a “going to the moon” vision for church planting, and that’s okay. If a church will do the hard work of assessing its culture and context though, then they are well on the way to capturing a vision for how they can be involved in church multiplication. Churches will begin to see what they are great at and where their weaknesses lie. They will begin to see the situation that they are in and what they can do about it. Thus, churches will have a clearer picture of what they can pass on to other churches that they aid in planting.”(Kindle Location: 1329)

 

I also disagree with the analogy that Mr. Joseph drew in the final paragraph of his weaknesses section in terms of a church being a body.  Young believers are considered babes, but I don’t see a local church ever called a baby church in scripture.  Our launch team for our pregnant church was made up of maturing believers who felt called to plant a disciple-making work in a new location.  The sending church, CityView Church Pearland, had elders at the helm making the decisions as we sent off the mission church.  We certainly still had our issues as a young church and we were not fully formed yet, but even then his analogy falters.  Further, the Antioch Church had not been formed for very long before they sent missionaries to plant churches and they only had Paul for a very short period of time before they sent off Paul and Barnabas (commentators vary in the amount of time before Acts 13’s sending event, between 12-24 months though is the typical agreed upon timeframe).

 

I never argue in the book that anyone else should plant pregnant.  Could other church plants find themselves in a situation where it might be possible? Yes. However, the book is not a mandate saying that all other church plants should do it.  That was something we as a church plant were convicted over, not something we have ever told other church plants they needed to be convicted of.  We have a vision for our church to plant 100 churches in 25 years.  This isn’t from our church specifically, but includes the churches that we plant.  We hope to have a movement of churches that are planting other churches.

If you’d like to read my book, Proliferate, A Church Planting Strategy for Everyday Churches and see for yourself what you think you can get it at  Amazon (Paperback or Kindle) or Barnes & Noble (Paperback or Nook).

Remembering

A Call To Remember Why We Do What We Do

remembering

According to Jesus, the church at Ephesus had it all.

  • They worked hard.
  • They didn’t renounce the faith in the midst of harsh persecution.
  • They had an effective apologetics ministry.
  • They fought for the sake of the name of Jesus.

They didn’t give up. They kept going.  They persevered in the right things.

The modern American church has a lot in common with Ephesus.  We work hard.  We plan and administrate with precision.  When persecution presents itself at home and abroad, we respond in a powerful manner.  We know right from wrong, and can argue our points well and amicably, even.

Quitting? We are doing anything but.  Our efforts in missions and church planting throughout our world, country, state, and city are moving forward.  We are doing great things!

Why does Revelation 2:4 convict so deeply then, “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.”

 

That is a gut-wrenching thought.  We are doing the right things, but in the middle of doing the right things for God and others — maybe we’ve forgotten and abandoned the love we had at first for God and for others.

 

Perhaps our churches have forgotten the compassion shown to us by a nail-pierced Savior.  We’ve forgotten those spontaneous compassionate works, motivated by the Holy Spirit, that we did for others when we first believed.

 

I know we sing about this every week.  I know we talk about these things every week.  I know we show videos and read books and even pray about these things every week.  But when was the last time it brought you to tears?  When was the last time it was not a vision for our church that motivated our actions, but a heart’s vision of a risen Savior that compelled us to do something? Something that we weren’t intending to post on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter?

 

Let’s do the things that Jesus said to do in order to match our commended great works with rekindled love for Jesus and people.

 

“Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.” (Revelation 2.5)

 

Prayer

Lord, forgive us for loving our programs, ministries, buildings, and visions for our churches more than you.  Forgive us for working hard, but forgetting the love we received at first, and gave to others at first.  May our love for you spark revival in our hearts, families, and churches.

 

Hello, I Am A Nobody

3 Thoughts On The Ministry Of Everyday Pastors

nobody

 

The first chapter in John’s Gospel records the story of Jesus calling a set of brothers to follow him. These brothers were fishermen.

  • One of them went on to be the spokesmen of the disciples.  The other didn’t.
  • One of these brothers was the first to confess that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God.  The other stood by while it happened.
  • One of these brothers went on to preach on the day of Pentecost and saw 3,000 people saved.  The other was also doing amazing things that day, just not preaching the big sermon.
  • One of these brothers went on to lead the church, write inspired Scripture, and have stories told of his martyrdom.  The other did miracles and made disciples faithfully.

Peter was the first brother. He’s frequently characterized as a bold, powerful, strong, and notable leader although a little rash and brash at times.  Peter is amazing.  So is his brother Andrew…  Andrews are important too.  Andrews are the everyday pastor who leads an everyday church and faithfully leads people to Jesus, disciples them, and cares for the church.  Andrews are nobodies and nobodies matter.

 

 

Nobodies Matter

 

1) The vast majority of churches are pastored by Andrews-Types

Most of the people in the world are under the ministry of Andrew-Type pastors.  Andrew-Types shepherd most of Jesus’ disciples.  Unassuming leaders who help to proclaim the Kingdom’s advance play a vital role in the growth of the church.  They are gifted.  They are equippers of the saints.  They don’t get asked to be on the big stages or TV or radio, but they are doing ministry.

 

 

2) The burden of celebrity destroys many faithful men

There are many famous pastors and Christian leaders who have continued to be faithful men of God.  I thank God for the men like Billy Graham, John Piper, Tony Evans, and David Jeremiah (and many others).  They are famous Peter-Types who live for Jesus and not for their own fame.  However, for every one of those guys there are 10 others who started out working hard for the fame of Jesus, their platform expanded, and somewhere along the line something switched and the power of their own celebrity began to control them.  I like what the political pundit, James Carville says, “When you become famous, being famous becomes your profession.” I think in many ways that is what has happened to celebrity pastors.

  • Sometimes this results in major falls from grace with men drifting into deep sin issues.
  • Sometimes their ministry continues and their platform expands, but they are worried about building their kingdom rather than Christ’s.

Faithfulness is a better aim than fame.

 

 

3) Contentment is key

I think a lot of the problem is that a lot of Andrew-types want to be Peter-types.  They haven’t made peace with the fact that they are special because they’ve been called by a King, not because they’ve been called to be a king.  Everyday Pastors matter.  We aren’t all Spurgeon or Billy Graham or Matt Chandler.  We are nobodies. There is nothing wrong with being nobodies.  Nobodies accomplish a lot for the Kingdom.  We have to deny ourselves.  We have to relinquish our fame desires for the sake of Christ’s fame.

 

This post is drawn from my book, Proliferate, A Church Planting Strategy for Everyday Churches.  If you haven’t already you can pick it up from Amazon (Paperback or Kindle) or Barnes & Noble (Paperback or Nook).

Every Church Planter Needs: A Coach

Part 3 of a 3 part series on the people that every church planter needs

 

Ever since we planted CityView Church in 2014 we’ve gotten multiple questions about what church planters need.  Aside from a strong and growing relationship with Jesus, the support of their spouse, Kingdom dollars invested in their plant or team members to join their core team, I always tell them that every planter needs three people who speak into their lives that help them plant in a healthy manner.  Every planter needs 3 specific people.  This blog series will share the three people that every church planter needs in his life.

Coach

Every church planter needs a coach.  It is easy for church planters to get bogged down in minutia of church life and church planting issues.  The coach cheers the planter on and pushes him when he isn’t accomplishing all that he could.  The coach is someone that the planter should pay for his time.  I have paid as little as $100/month, but am currently receiving coaching for $250/month.  My first coach was Sam Douglass.  I am currently coached by Brian Howard

Every church planter needs someone to get in their face a little when they aren’t doing what they should.  They also need someone outside of the situation to point out issues in what is going on within the church.  The coach can do this important work.

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Greatest Value

The most valuable thing a coach can do is drill down deep on a single issue that the planter is having, ask questions, and cause the planter to process through the issue out loud with someone else.  The coach can ask questions with little knowledge of the situation and bring in a different perspective to help the planter correct his actions.

 

How Do I Find One?

Your denomination or network should have some sort of coaching network setup or be able to point you in the right direction.  Contact the church plant leadership in your network or denomination and they’ll help you find a good one.  If worse comes to worse, I coach planters regularly to help them work through the early days of planting and thinking through how they can multiply.  I’d be happy to help, you can contact me here.

 

This series is drawn from my book, Proliferate, A Church Planting Strategy for Everyday Churches.  If you haven’t already you can pick it up from Amazon (Paperback or Kindle) or Barnes & Noble (Paperback or Nook).

 

 

Plant Churches Like Gerbils!

The Mindset We Need to Proliferate the Gospel in Church Planting

gerbil

When I was a teenager my brother got two albino gerbils.  If you aren’t familiar with this type of gerbil, they look a little like cute demons.  They have white fur (the cute part) and red eyes (the demon part).  We got the rodents from a family friend.  We were assured that they were both females, after all we didn’t want any baby gerbils rolling around.  They got a cage with a tube, a wheel, and a ball for the gerbils to go in when my brother wanted to have them outside of the cage.  They were cute and fun animals.  I’m not a big pet person, but I even enjoyed petting them, playing with them and watching them run around our house in their ball.

Then we noticed one day that one of the gerbils was getting fat.  That gerbil had eaten a whole lot more than normal, but we didn’t think anything of it.  After all they were both females.  A couple of weeks later there were 3 more little gerbils in that cage.  We separated the biggest gerbils because obviously one of those gerbils WAS NOT a female.  We also had to buy another cage.  The gerbils got a little bigger.  They were still cute and still fun to play with.  As the baby gerbils grew we began to wonder what gender they were.  However, by the time we were wondering it was too late… MORE BABY GERBILS!

I don’t remember exactly why, but my family decided to keep them all at first.  This lead to more cages. Eventually these cages were hooked together with plastic tubes until we had an entire gerbil city in our computer room.  What began as two cute, although mildly freaky looking animals rapidly grew into a whole colony of gerbils.

Gerbils Proliferate

Gerbils are small, simple creatures but they multiply rapidly.  To use a different word, they proliferate and with a gestation period of around 16 days, they proliferate quickly!

The word proliferate means, “to increase rapidly in numbers; to multiply”.  Gerbils proliferate and so should churches. That is the idea behind my new book, Proliferate: to give small, what I call, Everyday Churches a strategy for being involved in church planting and multiplication.

 

The Problem: A Unhealthy Gerbil Mindset

Everyday Churches are kind of like gerbils.  They’re small.  They lack in strength when it comes to numbers.  They are mostly cute, but have some freakish elements to them.  Perhaps you’ve been to a Baptist business meeting?  A church that is only thinking on these internal issues has a toxic gerbil mindset.

Sadly, these churches don’t know how to be involved in multiplication and worse they often feel like they can’t be involved in multiplication simply because of their perceived weakness in terms of attendance and budget numbers.  This mindset weakens multiplication efforts and hinders local, national, and worldwide gospel saturation.

According to Leadership Network 88% of churches in America run under 200 people in attendance [1]. If these congregations aren’t involved in multiplication, then the clear majority of churches aren’t getting involved in this effective means of evangelism.  Without these churches mobilizing in this effort many people and areas will be lacking gospel witness.

 

The Solution: A Healthy Gerbil Mindset

There is a healthy gerbil mindset.  These little creatures also possess the aforementioned ability to proliferate quickly.  This rapid reproduction happens not in spite of their size, but rather, because of their size.  Recently I heard Bob Roberts Jr. speak at a conference.  Bob is the pastor of Northwood Church, a notable church multiplying church in the Dallas Metroplex.  At the conference he said, “Only small churches have the ability to multiply effectively”.  He went on to explain that large churches struggle to multiply because they spend so much money trying to duplicate exactly what they are doing.  Healthy small churches understand what is necessary for a church to function and what isn’t necessary.

In Proliferate, A Church Planting Strategy for Everyday Churches I make the argument that all churches should be involved in church multiplication in some way, manner, fashion, or form.  This isn’t to say that all churches should be involved in multiplication in the same way, but they all need to be involved in the proliferation of gospel-centered churches both nationally and internationally.  Whether that means reproducing themselves or helping other congregations to start, all churches should be involved in church multiplication.

 

 

 

These are ideas that I share in my new book Proliferate, A Church Planting Strategy for Everyday Churches.  It is available in both Kindle and Paperback formats at Amazon.

 

[1] George, Carl F.; Bird, Warren (2017-04-04). How to Break Growth Barriers: Revise Your Role, Release Your People, and Capture Overlooked Opportunities for Your Church (Kindle Locations 1901-1905). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)

Everyday Pastors Get Discouraged

5 Techniques to Deal with Discouragement

discouraged

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I’m discouraged.  An initiative doesn’t go well.  Someone devastates you to your core with a few words.  A leader needs to be relocated for his/her job.  It happens ALL THE TIME in ministry.

We know the right answers:

  • This too will pass.
  • All things work together for good.
  • It must not have been God’s will.

However, knowing the right answers doesn’t make me feel better about it right now.  It doesn’t help me see it clearly right now.  Here are 5 techniques I’ve learned over my ministry that have helped me deal with those days (sometimes weeks, sometimes months) of discouragement.

1) Read your bible and write in a journal

When discouraged we are frequently driven from the Word.  Either there is some underlying resentment at God for allowing things to go badly or there is shame for something you’ve done or there is just a lax attitude towards the Scripture.  I’ve been there in all of those instances.  There is nothing that I’ve found more helpful though, when I can get over myself, than sitting and reading some Scripture. Dealing with leadership issues? Go read Nehemiah.  If the problem is hurt then go read the Psalms.  If you are aching over someone not responding to the gospel go read the gospels.  The Scripture is sufficient for us.  Write down what you read.  Recognize how it applies to you.

2) Pray and get others praying for you too

This is a natural outflow for me. After I read the bible and journal I want to pray.  I may still be upset (usually am).  Frustration is still present, but at least now I’m directed to the One who can help, bring encouragement and work with me (and on me) in my hurt.

I also have a trusted list of men that I go to with hurts.  I can text about 10-15 guys and I know they are praying for me right then.  Details aren’t necessary.  Just a simple, “I’m dealing with some discouragement today.  I can’t share a lot of detail, but I’d appreciate your prayer support today.”  They are faithful men and friends.  I’ve also found that just their simple reply back of, “gotcha covered man” or “on it!” brings a great deal of encouragement in knowing that I’m not alone and I’m not isolated.

3) Exercise

GO RUN!  LIFT WEIGHTS! DO SOME CARDIO!  Get off your butt and get your heart pumping and blood flowing in something physically productive.  There is a definite correlation to discouragement and depression and a lack of physical activity.  Get up and get going.

4) Talk to a friend

Ministry can be lonely.  It can be painful.  Find a friend, usually someone outside of your ministry situation, that you can talk openly with.  I was reminded today by one of these friends that discussing frustrations with trusted friends, without gossiping, helps you see different perspectives.  Be open to your friend to comfort you and call you out when you might have a blindspot in a specific area.

5) See a counselor

There is such a negative stigma about pastors seeing counselors.  That is just dumb!  I see one regularly (usually monthly).  I pay for this service.  My counselor is a biblical counselor and he listens and points me to Scripture and the gospel.  Friends can fill this role on occasion, but someone who has regular experience is invaluable.

 

 

Destination, Road, and Vehicle

3 Part Paradigm to Think Through Church Planting Plan Development

Destination

 

When I push my kids out the door they always have three questions: Where are we going? What’s the route we’re taking? Which car are we taking?  These are the same questions potential core team members will ask when they are considering joining a church plant.  They might not ask it just like that, but they all want to know: where they’re going, how they’re getting there, and what’s the strategy we’re using to get there.

These are three questions that church planters have to be able to answer as they prepare to plant a church.  Potential partner churches want to know, potential core team members are interested, and other church planting agencies require these three things to be in place before they will financially support the planter.

 

1) Vision – Where are we going?

The vision has to be clear.  I like the metaphor of the destination because when I share with my kids that we are going to Grandma’s house they know exactly what that means.  The destination is clear.  Is your vision clear?   So clear that when you say it people understand it?  If you can’t share your vision and explain it in less than 3 minutes then you have some work to do.  If you’ve never thought about vision to this level of clarity I HIGHLY recommend Church Unique by Will Mancini.

 

2) Values – What route are we taking?

If the vision is the destination then the values are the route you’re taking.  This is the way you’re getting there.  Your values are things that matter deeply to you and your church.  This isn’t your statement of beliefs or doctrinal statement.  They should be derived from belief, but this is specific as to how you want to function.  For instance, one of our core values at CityView Church is to love people far from God.  Obviously, this is rooted in the Great Commission and the Great Commandment, but this is how we are choosing to think about it.

I recommend no more than 6 values.  The best number is probably 3 or 4 values.  A good resource on this subject, although it isn’t strictly a Christian book, is The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni.

 

 

3) Strategy – What vehicle are we taking?

If vision is the destination and values are the route, then strategy is the vehicle that you’re taking to get there.  Strategy is the simple way you are planning to accomplish the vision.  Many times these are the core programs you will use to accomplish the vision.  For us it is our weekend worship service, life groups, and dna groups.  These programs make up our discipleship process.  Our strategy operates within the confines of our values and moves us towards our vision.  Church Unique is helpful on this strategy development process as well.

 

 

3 Things you MUST Do Before You Plant A Church

MUST

Our Church, CityView, launched on February 9, 2014.  It was a GREAT day.  140 People gathered to worship God in an elementary school gym. That day was the public beginning of our church, but it was far from the actual beginning.  It didn’t start in September 2013 when we were commissioned by our sending church.  CityView didn’t begin in May 2013 when we announced our plan to go plant the church.  We didn’t start when the first families were recruited.  CityView started in November 2012 when Travis Duke and I prepared spiritually for what God might be calling us to do.  Here’s what we did and what I think every church planter MUST do before they go plant a church.

1) You Must Pray

I am constantly amazed at how prayer is neglected when preparing to plant a church.  Prospective church planters frequently get excited about possibilities of what they might be able to do if they were just unshackled from their current church (note my sarcastic tone) or they just want to get to winning people to Jesus, a truly noble reason to plant or any reason in between. Regardless of what is causing you to want to plant, you MUST spend significant time in prayer.

Travis and I took 6 weeks where we prayed everyday.  I kept a journal and asked mentors, family members and friends to pray for me.  If you are going to plant a church, you need to know that God is calling you to do it.  It really is that simple.  This 6 weeks of prayer has been a significant source of encouragement for me on a mission that is filled with discouraging moments. We share about this story in my book Proliferate: A Church Planting Strategy for Everyday Churches.

2) You Must Meditate on the Gospel

Meditating on the gospel: the person and work of Jesus is essential.  Why are we going to plant a church?  Is it to just be a reaction against the more traditional church we came from? NO!  That is a ridiculous reason to plant a church.  Don’t plant a church from a place of reaction or anger.  Plant a church out of a deep love for the Gospel.  Start a church out of what that Good News says about mankind.  Plant a church for the glory of God.

3) You Must Learn EVERYTHING you can

If you are feeling the call to plant a church you cannot read too much about it.  Devour everything you can.  Read widely within your personal tribe (Southern Baptist, Presbyterian, Assembly of God, Non-Denominational…which is really a denomination, isn’t it?).  Read widely OUTSIDE of your tribe.  Just because you may not like a guy’s theological bent doesn’t mean you can’t glean something from him.  Listen to podcasts, go to conferences, take it all in as you ready yourself for this journey.  I read over 56 books on church planting and listened to countless sermons, podcasts, and trainings before we started formulating our prospectus.  You don’t have to do everything everyone recommends, but you can find bits that help you see what God might be calling you to do.

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