Every Church Planter Needs: A Mentor

Part 1 of a 3 part series on the people that every church planter needs

Mentor

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.

Mentor

Every church planter needs a mentor.  They need someone who has gone before them and done similar work to what they are attempting to do now.  The mentor is so important because he lets the planter know that what they are attempting is possible.  He brings encouragement on a regular basis.

 

Greatest Value

The most valuable thing a mentor can share is their experiences, both good and bad.  This authenticity helps the planter know that at the end of the day there is hope.  The mentor shows the planter that no matter how difficult it gets you can come out on the other side.  The mentor can provide a target for the planter to aim for over the course of their ministry.

There is definite value in having several mentors in the planter’s life that might be able to address different issues at different times in areas related to church life cycle, attendance trends, and family. In many ways, a mentor is a pastor to a church planter. I have been blessed to have a couple of these amazing men in my life as I planted, Greg Pickering of Brazos Pointe Fellowship in Lake Jackson, TX and Bruce Wesley of Clear Creek Community Church in League City, TX.

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How Do I Find One?

You find a mentor by thinking about the people in your life who have started like you have and have a track record that you respect.  Think beyond your peer group.  Look to a generation older than you.  You narrow down on one or two guys and then you take them to lunch or coffee and ask them to mentor you.  You will find that quality men want to be asked to do this type of thing.  They want to reproduce themselves in other young leaders.

 

How Do I Become One?

Greg Pickering became my mentor when he found me at a fellowship meeting for our county and said, “Hi Jason, I’m Greg, I’m you in 20 years”.  Younger generations desperately want the tutelage of those who have gone before.  You have a lot to share.  Look around at young guys in your pastoral circles and make an investment.

 

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.

 

 

Everyday Churches

3 Reasons Churches Under 200 ARE NOT SMALL!

everyday churches

Typically a church is considered small if it is under 200 in attendance on a Sunday.  I don’t know why, but there is something about the number 200. According to recent statistics somewhere between 65% – 85% of churches in the United States are under 200 in attendance.  There are roughly 300,000 churches in the United States.  That means there are between 195,000 – 255,000 churches with an attendance of 200 or less.  That’s a lot of churches!

It’s almost like those churches aren’t small.  I want to make the argument that churches under 200 aren’t small, they’re typical or normative or EVERYDAY.  Here are three reasons I think Everyday Churches should reject the label of “small”

1) Everyday Churches are doing lots of ministry.

Everyday Churches do worship services, small groups, Sunday School classes, children’s ministry, youth ministry, plant churches, feed the poor, and do thousands of other ministries.  The people of these churches build strong ties to one another.  Everyday Churches minister and serve each other and their communities.  What would happen if suddenly all of the churches under 200 in attendance were gone? Think about that for a second.

2) Everyday Churches are part of the big mission.

The Great Commission wasn’t given to large churches, megachurches, or gigachurches.  The Great Commission was given to disciples of Jesus.  That includes the big churches, but it also includes the Everyday Church too.  They are part of Jesus’ mission in the world.  Everyday Churches develop a complex they they are “less than” because they aren’t big.  The fact of the matter is that they aren’t “less than” because they have the one who is “Greater Than” every name.  We serve the same Lord we have the same mission.

3) Everyday Churches are mighty.

Think about how many people and how much money are potentially represented by Everyday Churches based on US Averages (I realize these numbers aren’t exact and there are factors in statistics that can skew them a bit, but this isn’t a research report, it is a blog post… calm down.)

  • People: Let’s say that 65% of churches are under 200 in attendance, the smallest estimate out there.  65% of 300,000 churches = 195,000 churches.  The average church size is 75.  If you take those stats that means that there are 14,625,000 people who attend Everyday Churches.  That is a lot of people!  Let’s say the averages are skewed by large churches and take away 50%.  That is still 7,312,500 people!  That is a lot of people!
  • Money: According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS) the average household gives $1,703 annually to religious organizations.  According to statista the average US Household is 2.53 people (I’ll spare you the, “how do you get .53 person joke”.)  That means the average church has about 29 family units.  Those 29 family units give about $49,000 annually.  $49,000 Annually * 195,000 Churches = $9,555,000,000.  That is a staggering number!  Over $9.5 billion.  Let’s say that number is skewed by large churches and other religious organization and take away 50%.  THAT IS STILL $4,777,500,000 GIVEN INSIDE OF EVERYDAY CHURCHES.

By the numbers Everyday Churches are truly mighty.

Are big churches bad?

Definitely not.  Please don’t hear me saying that big churches are bad or wrong.  I think they are great!  I’m thankful for big churches doing big things in ministry that Everyday Churches can’t do.  I’m just saying that Everyday Churches have their place in ministry and mission AND they are MIGHTY.  Everyday Churches Matter.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Excited to be on the Battle Cry Revival Podcast on March 27, 2017.  We’ll be talking about my book Proliferate, church planting, and general Life Hacks.  Release date will be posted soon.

Date: March 27, 2017
Time: 4:00 p.m.
Appearance: Battle Cry Revival Podcast
Outlet: Battle Cry Revival
Location: Alvin, TX
Format: Podcast

On April 5th at 3pm I’ll be recording a podcast with Shane Pruitt, SBTC Director of Missions, for Advance Now.  The podcast will be release has yet to be determined.

Advance Now provides Podcasts, Blogs, & News Feeds that are geared towards advancing the Kingdom of God. Provided by the Southern Baptists of Texas Mission’s Department.

Date: April 5, 2017
Time: 3:00 p.m.
Appearance: Advance Now Podcast
Outlet: Advance Now
Location: Grapevine, TX
Format: Podcast

 

On April 5th I’ll be recording a webinar with Joseph Sangl and InJoy Stewardship talking about the principles in my book, Proliferate: A Church Planting Strategy for Everyday Churches.

 

Date: April 5, 2017
Time: 10:00-11:00 a.m.
Appearance: Webinar with Joe Sangl and InJoy Stewardship
Outlet: Injoy Stewardship
Location: Anderson, SC
Format: Vlog

I’ve been invited to be on the Jeremy Roberts Leadership Podcast to talk about my book Proliferate and church planting and multiplication.  The episode will be recorded on March 28th and released at a later time.

Thankful for the opportunity to be on JeremyRoberts.org

Date: March 28, 2017
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Appearance: Podcast with Jeremy Roberts
Outlet: JeremyRoberts.org
Location: Chattanooga, TN
Format: Podcast

Proliferate

A Church Planting Strategy for Everyday Churches

Proliferate

Every Church Can Be A Church Planting Church!

More than 85 percent of churches have under two hundred people in weekly attendance. The tendency is to think these churches are ordinary or everyday–conventional wisdom says that bigger is better and Everyday Churches can have only a limited impact. But when Jesus was teaching people about the Kingdom of God, he didn’t follow conventional wisdom. He compared the Kingdom to a mustard seed–the smallest of seeds, but with the potential to change the landscape. Just like the mustard seed, Everyday Churches are small, but filled with potential. In Proliferate, the reader will:

  • Understand that Everyday Churches can be involved in church planting
  • Build out a vision for their church’s involvement in church multiplication
  • Learn to confront obstacles that stand in the way of church multiplication
  • Create a communication strategy to engage their church

Here’s what some people are saying

According to our church planting research, multiplication begins with a vision for the Kingdom. Contrary to popular opinion, this Kingdom vision doesn’t require you to be mega, rich, or famous. In this book, Jason helps contextualize that Kingdom vision for your church–for everyday churches everywhere. So pick this up and work through it with your team to see God’s Kingdom come and His will be done in your context.

– Daniel Im, coauthor of Planting Missional Churches and director of church multiplication at NewChurches.com

Jason Crandall inspires every day leaders in every day churches to play their unique role in multiplying churches. He planted a church. He’s reproducing churches. Now, he’s showing us how. In Proliferate, you will learn how a smaller church can make an enormous impact from a practitioner, theologian and leader. It’s a good read with a powerful purpose.

– Bruce Wesley, Founding Pastor of Clear Creek Community Church and Founder of the Houston Church Planting Network

If Jason Crandall were a publicly traded company, I would be a major shareholder. In his book, Proliferate, he uses extremely practical stories to explain how everyday churches can make gargantuan impact for God’s Kingdom. This book is practical, timely, winsome, and raw. Consume it. Apply it. Enjoy it.

– Jeremy Roberts, Lead Pastor at Church of the Highlands, Chattanooga, TN and JeremyRoberts.org

 

Pickup a copy of Proliferate on Amazon

 

Proliferate

Die to Multiply

6 Practical Ways for a Church to Sacrifice for Multiplication

multiplication

 

My wife wants to have a little garden and I’m building her planter boxes to help with her gardening desires.  We aren’t sure what to plant, but the seed thoughts have got me thinking about how seeds work.  It brought to mind this verse in John:

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (John 12.24)

In context, Jesus is talking about those who would follow him.  They need to come after Him.  They need to die to self.  When they die to self they’ll produce more than they ever dreamed. This is an amazing truth.  However, I think we limit the extent here too much.  I think the principle applies broadly.  When we die to ourselves as churches we can bear much fruit in church multiplication.

Churches can die to themselves by sacrificing in these 6 practical ways:

1) Space

Setup a Church Plant information area.  Maybe you’ve got a bulletin board or an information center.  Use those areas to share information about church plants that your church is supporting or prayer cards for church planters that you are familiar with.

2) Money

Take up a planned, special offering for church plants.  Set aside a percentage of budget for church plants.  This is something that CityView has since its inception.  All the churches we plant also set aside money for churches.  Many of those churches are giving 5% of their tithes and offerings and giving them towards our Collective of churches that exists for gospel-centered church planting in the Houston area.  If you are looking for a place to give church planting dollars to, this is one I personally believe in deeply.

3) Time

Take a week or even just a weekend and go do a short term mission trip with a church plant.  We’ve had some GREAT churches come and help us in our first few years.  They’ve surveyed for us, passed out fliers, put on block parties, held sports and dance day camps, helped with setup and teardown, and a hundred other things.  These teams help us go further faster.

4) Platform

Regularly share stories of church plants from the pulpit.  Bring a church planter in to preach for you.  One church we’ve worked with does a month devoted to church planting (and not a Summer Month, a good one like September).

5) Prayer Time

Regularly pray for church plants in your prayer gathering, groups ministry, or Sunday School classes.  You can contact your denominational or favorite network.  Here’s our network.  Here’s our Collective of churches.

6) People

Encourage the membership of your church to go help a church plant.  Maybe they go for a few weeks to help get a plant off the ground through helping in hospitality or children’s ministry OR maybe you encourage them to join the core team of a church plant.

 

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.