Thursday, June 20, 2013

Acts 29 Conference

I won't be blogging next week due to the Act 29 lead pastor conference. Please check back the following week for the continuation in my series on Financial Tools for Church Planters as well as other posts relevant to church planting. Have a blessed week!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Best Financial Tools for Church Planters: Digital Tracking of Expenses

This is part two in my ongoing series of Best Financial Tools for Church Planters

To start, I want to clarify that I have not researched all the options out there for tracking spending electronically, but I am going to feature one product that has been revolutionary in our church planting experience. The system we've used at The Vine has not only blessed us in the early years of church planting, but would have been a helpful shift in the way expense tracking was handled in my previous church experiences as well.

 The product I am referring to is Expensify. For more detailed information on the product, go check out the website here. For a quick look at how we use the product, which is free for the first two users and $5 a month for each additional, read on.

To set-up your account, you have the ability to either customize spending categories in the program or to import those categories from your book keeping software like Quickbooks. Once the accounts are set-up, the users download the app onto their smartphones (droid or iPhone) and are ready to go. From that point forward when any purchase is made either on a church credit card (or personal card for reimbursement) the expense is entered into the app and a photo is taken of the receipt, which is then attached to the spending record. This means no more fat wallets or lost receipts, because they are all stored digitally in your Expensify account! In the featured image you can see what the expense form looks like on the iphone.

The last step for the employee is to file their monthly spending report by going online and pulling all the expenses into a report which is submitted by the click of a button to the book keeper for processing. And there you have it, an essential expense tracking tool for church planters!

Monday, June 10, 2013

You Need a Pastor and Church, Not Just a Podcast

A good word here from Geoff Ashley at The Village Church blog. So much is sacrificed when one neglects the "beauty and necessity of the local church." It's not easy, it takes work, but you can't be healthy without it. From Geoff...
This tendency, unfortunately, is not limited to the early church but now plagues American Christianity. Each week, scores of believers forsake the assembly of the saints and, instead, tune in to a televised, streamed or podcast sermon. While radio offered the first taste of listening to a sermon within the comforts of the home, modern technology affords the opportunity to listen on the road, in the gym or on a mountain. These benefits are incredible blessings that should be used for our edification, but they are no substitute for the local church.
 (HT: Village Church)

25 Things She Learned from Church Planting

Christine Hoover, church planters wife and author of the book The Church Planting Wife featured the top 25 things she learned from church planting on the Gospel Coalition Blog. Below are a few of the ones I resonated with, for the rest go here.
  • Hospitality is essential.
  • Church planting teaches two things more than any other: that God is faithful and that we must learn how to depend on that faithful God.
  • The Word is living and active. When we let God speak through his Word, he changes people. Every church plant must gather earnestly around the Word and the Christ to which it points.
  • Most people, especially outsiders, don't know what it means when you say you're church planting. And they think you're a little crazy.
  • The calling to church plant must be sure since you'll need to return to it again and again in the face of discouragement, defeat, and uncertainty.
  • The gospel is everything: it sustains when discouragement comes (and it always does), it keeps a church planter and his wife in their city (because there will be times when they want to give up and leave), it compels its ministers forward (and sometimes it's the only motivation left), and it changes lives (which makes it all worth it).
  • Slow and steady growth is healthy growth. Explosive growth can be fragile growth.
  • Church plants should never be started by someone disgruntled or unable to sit under authority at his former church. Church plants cannot be rebuttals to another pastor's methods and ideas.
  • They must be built on a clear call from God.
  • There is unimaginable joy and reward in sacrifice and service.

Friday, June 07, 2013

The Vast and Endless Sea

I was moved reading this quote from Antoine de Saint-Expury this week:
If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.
An important reminder as we scramble to find success in good methods and leadership ability. The most helpful means for mission advance is to help people see a clear vision and yearn for that which is greater than themselves. What is our "vast and endless sea"? It is found in the glories of Christ, the invisible God, the firstborn of creation, the one through whom all things were created, who made peace by the blood of the cross. (Col 1:15-20)

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Best Financial Tools For Church Planters: A Financial Oversight Strategy

This is part 1 in my series on the Best Financial Tools for Church Planters. This week we'll explore the need for a financial oversight team (i.e. people who help you in the oversight of finances)

Every church planter needs to have either a sponsoring church, denomination, or an external financial oversight team (or a combination of the three) that is helping them in the management of church finances. One of my first priorities within my district of the EFCA will be to clearly delineate the methods by which finances can and should be managed in various church planting contexts. Here are a few ways in which external financial teams can be established:

Sponsoring Church: At The Vine, we have made the commitment to provide administrative and book keeping services for all of our direct church plants for a minimum of two years. This is proving to be such a blessing as we prepare to launch Redeemer City Church within the next year. Church planters can be quickly overwhelmed by the minutia of church management. By having an existing church provide the financial oversight, a planter is free to focus on the mission of establishing a core and building relationships with those who need Christ in their city.

Denomination: I am still learning how this process has been practiced in our own district, but am aware that church planters in a denomination are often invited to manage their funds through their regional office. The oversight for this model includes office staff and those over church planting within the district. Some of the financial tools available from denominations include seed money for initial equipment needs, zero-interest loans, accounting services, and employee benefits.

External Financial Team: Most church plants do not have the established trust or necessary skills within their core team to manage finances internally. This is why, when we planted The Vine, we established an external financial accountability team made up of former church treasurers at Parkview Church, the church I transitioned out of when becoming a planter. My only concern with this model is that it's too easy for the responsibilities of management to fall back on the planter. When this occurs there is a lack of accountability for the planter and also a greater risk that the planter will become overwhelmed with the details of money management.

If you know of other models or have questions or comments, please leave them in the comments section below.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Pastor vs. Planter

When we (the planting team) planted The Vine we never really distinguished ourselves between being a planter or a pastor. We were simply pastors who were planting. We were also never a church plant or a church. We were simply a young church being planted. In this post Darryl cautions us regarding this tension both in our role and location as planters.
Many of us can come across like planting is where it's at, or that planting in an urban context is the thing. Planting is important, but we sometimes unwittingly give the impression that pastoring an established church, especially outside of the city, is second-best. That's unfortunate. Both planting and pastoring are important. While cities are important, so are the suburbs and so are the rural places.
 (HT: Dashhouse)