Category Archives: Church Planting

How Should We Plant Churches?

Church planting is difficult.  While we want to have a formulaic approach, it is difficult to make a one size fits all approach.

Having said this, I will now offer several formulaic thoughts that I have been working on:

  1. Church planters are often “culled through” by taking personality, ministry effectiveness, and spirituality tests.   While these are helpful, I believe they are only helpful to the planter and not the planter’s “network”.
  2. In many states planters “partner” with a church that will “assist” them in the planting process. This can range from real assistance to just passing along a check each month.  (really!!) I believe this to be a horrible approach.  Instead,  pair a planter with a planting mother-church to be trained as a staff member for 6 months to a year then the planting church will be able to help the planter grow spiritually and experientially.  Many red flags can be addressed and the planting church will have an extra staff member for a year. Oh yeah, let the planting network help pay or partially pay the salary of the planter during this time.
  3. Never, ever should a planting network give any financial assistance to a planter that the planting network has not provided training in church finances.  Also, the planting church should take the responsibility of managing the finances of the new church during the fund-raising process and the 1st year of the new church.  This provides a huge advantage for the network and the planter!
  4. The planting network should require monthly meetings with the planter, the planting mother-church and a representative of the planting network.  Casual calls and “how’s it going” emails don’t promote growth.
  5. Churches should plant churches with the assistance of the planting network – not the other way around.

Some of these – well all of these – are from personal experience.  I believe that these are not the complete answer but take us in a better direction.  Church Planting is crucial and deserves the attention and innovation that it deserves.

Learning

I love being a pastor.  It is one of the most rewarding things to simply give yourself to God’s plans and then just hang on.  It’s also requires you look at yourself and cull through your emotions, your pride and your desire for success.  Being a pastor has challenged me to look at my own faith and plans to question them over and over.

This week saw the release of a letter Mark Driscoll shared with his congregation and has been shared in a lot of places since then.  I don’t mind sharing the link here. I have to say that it is one of the most honest letters that I have seen in a while.  It also came at a time when I needed it most.

If you’re a pastor you probably struggle with the battle in your own life to start or grow a church and at the same time keep close to your Heavenly Father because one without the other doesn’t work.   Even if you’re not a pastor, being a person of Faith is the same.  You want to live your life with joy and success but you also want to hold to your faith without compromise.   It take a lot of repentance (changing directions).  I think that is what Mark’s letter is about – changing directions.

I have begun to make some changes in my own life and ministry.  Our Elder Board at Hub is helping me and supporting me as I learn to be a better pastor and friend to our church body.  I have decided being a pastor means I need to love people and not try to fix people (Stacy has showed me that better than anyone).  I also know God has put us in Goose Creek to love the people here in any way we can so as a simple step in that direction I have become a T-Ball coach for one of the teams so I can simply get to know people in our city. Also Stacy and I have agreed that I need to spend time with people not as a pastor, or as a project, but as a person who deeply does desire to see people know Jesus.

So I’m learning.  I have always been convinced that planting a church or doing anything God called my family to do required us be changed and  our faith to grow because of it. As hard as it is to be changed by God and his Kingdom I know  it is his desire to begin in me so I am more open to that than ever before.

 

 

 

Bylaws and Plans

I’ve been working the last two weeks on our 501(c)(3) and our church Bylaws and Constitution for Journey Fellowship.

It all makes me think not about rules and regs but about who we are and who we want to be.  In looking at modern Christianity and the roles that churches play and have played I am obsessed in knowing where will we stand?

How will we be inclusive yet not condoning without rejecting those that God desires to reach (everyone)?  How will we handle the pressure of performing and attracting without getting lost in it?
How will we keep the desire to make disciples primary instead of the constant ungodly allure of making a church instead?

These are the questions that we’re asking like young children staring down a new trail into the woods.  We have little or no real understanding of the path ahead, but we know that God has appointed this time for us to begin the journey.

We’re praying through this that God will lead us and that we’ll not stray from His desires.  We know that our best intentions are not even close to God’s ideal plans, but he has and will use us to carry out His plans.

So all of planning and bylaws won’t insure that we do everything right but isn’t that the point?  All of us fall short but we have a Redeemer and a Savior who takes us despite all of that and makes beautiful things.

Why Plant Another Church?

Ok, I think in my first week on this new blog I have probably sounded like I am critical of churches.  That couldn’t be any further from the truth, but I do believe that many people love Jesus but not His Church and I think that is heart breaking!  I think that we have to realize this as we plant churches.

So why plant another church? I believe that the church is really God’s bride.  In other words we are the glory and the beauty of God just as my wife is the beauty and glory of my life.

So I want to be God’s glory and beauty.  Will other’s see God’s Spirit in me?  Can our church be a place of beauty and of healing without being a glossed over or distorted image of Christ? Can we simply be unselfishly willing to stop consuming God and start sharing God?

As we are beginning the fund raising to plant our church in Goose Creek, SC we are focused not on how to convince people to give to our vision or how we can get people to attend our church but instead we are focused on how we can invade our city and be used by God to really change the lives of people.  We hope that people will give money to our God for his purposes and God in turn will use us to do his purposes in our town, our region, and our world.

We hope that our sanctuary is the streets of our town.  We hope that our worship of our Heavenly Father is in our actions towards non-believers.

This will happen most effectively by our being God’s bride.  We will disciple people just as Jesus did to join together and reach the world.  Isn’t that why the Church exists?

 

 

Living in Your Story

I was in my city last week. It’s the first time that my kids have seen Charleston, so we tried to make it special. We were there all week.

We want to know our city. To meet people and to get to know the rhythm of life there. We want to see the mood of people and understand the lives that they live. It’s going to take time to do that and we didn’t learn everything during this week long visit. But the point is to know the people.

I just finished reading Don Miller’s book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years where he talks about story and how we write our story with the challenges and the difficulties that we live. The best statement of the book for me was “Joy requires pain.” It’s true. The best stories that we know have a moment when the main character must overcome a difficult obstacle. How they must fight their father in a battle or leave their village for the strange world. It’s all about taking on the difficult to experience the joy.

I think church planting is like that. Taking on the story of stories by extending and investing in God’s kingdom. The amazing challenge of not knowing the next chapter and realizing that God does.

We’re in our city last week beginning this next chapter in our story.

We Are Missionaries

I work for Fellowship Technologies, which I love doing, but next year sometime my family and I will be planting a church in Goose Creek, SC which is just outside of Charleston.

Planting a church in Charleston, South Carolina may sound like a plan to live near the beach (we’re actually planting in Goose Creek). Charleston is a historical vacation destination city with wonderful history, great places to eat, beautiful beaches, and excellent weather the majority of the year.

None of these are reasons that we are moving to Charleston. We considered other cities as we thought as the Holy Spirit was leading us. We honestly hadn’t thought of returning to South Carolina until late last year. We had thought, “Well we’re going to Dallas, TX to seminary. We probably will not be back. God certainly must be taking us out of South Carolina to equip us to go elsewhere to minister!”

As we began to really pray and think about what was next for us after seminary we realized several things:

  1. We love where we came from. We had been a part of a wonderful church plant in Greer, SC for about 6 years and had been deeply affect by it.
  2. We have parents, family and friends in South Carolina. We miss them!
  3. The world is a scary place. Dallas is a big city and it’s hot in Texas! (Texas is really a great state otherwise.)

So we looked at these reasons and realized – they were NOT reasons to move back to South Carolina! They were reasons to hide in South Carolina and they limited our response to God’s desire to use our lives.

We began to realize that God had used us in Dallas, that life was good in this big city, and that God could and would use us anywhere that he chose and that we would be happy anywhere that he sent us. In other words God is God and we had to trust that.

So we began to consider all of the options! We looked at and applied to various ministry agencies, church planting networks, and even considered overseas missions.

It was then that we realized that we’re all missionaries. We’re all called to enter society, befriend others, share our lives and our faith with them, and then disciple them as the Holy Spirit leads us. We are all missionaries!

No matter where God had us living, no matter what “kind” of ministry we start or we are a part of – we’re still missionaries.

It was then that South Carolina came back into focus. We know the state. We know of the need for real faith there like anywhere else. South Carolina didn’t have to come off the list of places to go because we came from there. The need for missionaries in South Carolina is as real as anywhere and if God was calling us there then we needed to go!

So we are going as missionaries to plant churches in Charleston and where ever God leads us to minister. Charleston is a vacation spot but Charleston is like most places in the South plagued by marginal Christianity. We can find that in every city in the nation. There are socio-economic struggles there. There are race-related issues there. There is poverty, pain and struggle there – just like everywhere else. The absence of Christ in the lives of people always leads to longing and a need for a missionary.

So we’re going to Charleston not just as church planters but we are going first as missionaries because that is what missionaries do – they go teaching and reaching the world!