Wednesday, September 25, 2013

An Open Letter to Church Planting Pastors

Ever wonder what it's like to be married to a church planter? Christine really hit the nail on the head with this post about priorities in planting. My wife would wholeheartedly resonate with the warning to pastors within this letter. Here's a quote:
Church planting is difficult work because it's all-encompassing. The lines between home and ministry are so blurred that it's easy to lose sight of what appropriate boundaries are and what emotional and physical health looks like. Church planters, not a wife in that room cried because we don't understand the pressure you are under or because we have unrealistic expectations of you. We feel the pressure, albeit different pressure, as much as you, and we care about your success probably more than you do.
We love you, we respect you, and we sincerely want to be a help to you. Although we are not a resource just to be used to further your ministry, we are your best resource for life, family, and ministry.

We are your helper, yes, but we need your help, too. We need your understanding and listening ear. 
Read the rest here and revisit the principle frequently.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Acts 19 Strategy

One of the goals of the new vision statement being considered by the EFCA is a call to develop 100 Acts 19 cities. The idea revolves around what happened as the Gospel spread to Ephesus in Acts 19. The strategy being to infiltrate 100 urban centers here and around the world with an aggressive plan for ministry, evangelism, and cultural transformation.

At our recent vision summit at the EFCA headquarters in Minneapolis, the presentation on this strategy was somewhat unclear. Fortunately, I found this document which brought much more clarity. My first take is that this is an exciting God-sized vision. I am hopeful it will motivate us to get involved in the cause of God's missional vision for our cities, nation, and world.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Jesus Has Come to Confound You

The most humbling thing I ever did was plant a church. The early days of planting carried with it a degree of doubt and insecurity that was unparalleled in my previous 15 years as a pastor. Ironically, I hope I never forget those days. The desperation and dependance I felt was beautiful. My inability to bear fruit and need for God's help was ever before me. In this spirit, I was recently humbled and encouraged by Zack Eswine's words from his new book Sensing Jesus.
Those of you searching for something larger, faster, and more significant, who feel that if you could just be somewhere else doing something else as somebody else, then you life would really matter- Jesus has come to confound you. I'm not referring to those who need to flee to somewhere else for safety's sake. I am referring to the discontented who have not yet learned what it means that Jesus is our portion and and that he is enough for us. You have wandered far from home. You cannot glorify God by trying to become him… He may just decide to pick you up and carry you to somewhere sexy in order to undo you! He may call you to courageously prize what is overlooked and mundane among those whose cravings for the next and the now might cause them to soon overlook you for another more hip pastor. Or he may call you to nowhere sexy so that you can learn that you can make a difference in Jesus even if you are somewhere forgotten by the world.
Oh that we would always remain humble, no matter our position or authority… content, no matter our calling or abilities. May Jesus be our portion and hope… our life lived for His glory alone.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Church Planting: The Most Impactful Strategy

Here is a classic quote from Dr. Tim Keller from his paper Why Plant Churches written in 2002. I couldn't agree more.
The vigorous, continual planting of new congregations is the single most crucial strategy for 1) the numerical growth of the Body of Christ in any city, and 2) the continual corporate renewal and revival of the existing churches in a city. Nothing else--not crusades, outreach programs, para-church ministries, growing mega-churches, congregational consulting, nor church renewal processes--will have the consistent impact of dynamic, extensive church planting. This is an eyebrow raising statement. But to those who have done any study at all, it is not even controversial.

Monday, September 02, 2013

How to Cultivate Meaningful Relationships in Small Groups

As we planted The Vine three years ago, we desired for it to be a place where honest and authentic community was happening in individual relationships and in our groups. This video reminded me how important it is for those of us who are leaders to set that tone for our groups and churches. If we have any hope of seeing honest and meaningful relationships become a common characteristic in our churches, we have to lead the way.