Kamis, 09 Februari 2017

Is Multisite Preventing Multiplication?

Is Multisite Preventing Multiplication?

What began as a radical idea has spawned a movement, but is it true multiplication?
Is Multisite Preventing Multiplication?
The multisite movement has progressed through some very identifiable seasons. When I started down the multisite path as a senior pastor in Colorado in the 1990s, multisite was a radical idea. In the first decade of the 21st century, multisite then became a cool idea among large, cutting-edge churches. Now, in the second decade of this century, multisite has become the mainstream idea among healthy, growing churches of all sizes.
What began as a radical idea has spawned a movement of more than five million people attending one of the 5,000-plus multisite churches across North America. More importantly, the multisite movement is not slowing down. This movement is comprised of non-denominational and denominational churches that gather in urban, suburban and rural communities.
Along the way, the multisite movement has changed church for good across America by:
  • Stimulating a new energy for local church ministry
  • Refocusing the “local” in local church
  • Accommodating & accelerating growing churches
  • Reinvigorating stable but stuck churches with a fresh vision & strategy
  • Offering an alternative to abandoning or relocating church facilities
  • Allowing churches to change without blowing up the church
  • Stimulating innovation and outside the box thinking
  • Saving a lot of churches from extinction through mergers
  • Repurposing many antiquated church facilities
  • Creating a new staff role of campus pastor
  • Diminishing the need for mega-campuses & mega-dollar campaigns
  • Bringing church back to rural and urban communities
  • Stimulating more community awareness and collaboration between churches
  • Igniting a new energy for church planting among local church leaders
Very few multisite churches have maximized the multiplication potential inherent in the model.
Though the multisite movement has been a game-changer for the church in America, we are again standing at an important crossroads. Multisite churches have been effective in adding converts, worship services, worship venues, programs, and reproducing campuses. What multisite churches have largely struggled to do, however, is move beyond adding and reproducing to multiplying. Very few multisite churches are maximizing the multiplication potential inherent in the model. Very few have reproduced congregations to the third generation. Very few have birthed congregations that birth congregations. That’s genuine multiplication.
Local churches grow by addition and reproduction, but movement-making churches grow by multiplication.
In the multisite movement, we have unfortunately used the words adding, reproducing and multiplying interchangeably to describe multisiting. These words are related, but they don’t have the same meaning.
Let me try to explain the difference this way. When a person gets married, they grow by adding a spouse to their life. When that couple has a child, they grow by reproduction. When that child matures and gives birth to a child, that’s multiplication. Addition is not reproduction, and reproduction is not multiplication, but reproduction doesn’t happen without addition, and multiplication doesn’t happen without reproduction.
Local churches grow by addition, multisite by reproduction, but they become movement-making churches through multiplication. Multisite churches have the potential of becoming movement-making churches, but they have to reproduce congregations that reproduce congregations. That’s real multiplication!
So how does a church become a movement-making church? My partner, Wade Burnett, and I facilitated a learning community this past year of 18 leading multisite churches to ask that very question.
These movement-making church leaders don’t primarily see themselves as being in church-work, they see themselves as being in disciple-making work through the local church. As a result, they see every disciple of Jesus as the seed of a new congregation because wherever disciples of Jesus go, local churches emerge. It’s in the DNA of a fully-devoted Christ-follower.
Movement-making churches embed multiplication into everything they do and measure success not just by adding disciples, campuses or church plants, but by reproducing and multiplying them. They make disciples that make disciples that generate congregations. They empower disciples with a “you can do it; we can help” mindset. They don’t waste time and energy debating multisite vs church planting. They birth campuses that birth campuses. They plant churches that plant churches. They create networks and coalitions to birth more and better disciples that multiply more and better congregations. Though all resisted the label of being called a movement-making church, we saw encouraging signs of movement in many of them. May their tribe increase!
Multisite churches have the potential to lead the way in multiplying congregations if they can shift from just adding and reproducing thinking to a multiplication mindset. They will birth congregations that birth congregations that birth congregations. That’s movement!
The multisite movement is now at another crossroads. The multisite movement changed how we think and do church. Now it’s time to change how we think and do multisite. Now it’s time to move beyond just adding and reproducing to multiplying.
Go forth and multiply!
Jim Tomberlin
Jim Tomberlin is founder and senior strategist of MultiSite Solutions, a company dedicated to assisting churches in multiplying their impact. Over three decades of diverse ministry, Jim has pastored a church in Germany, grown a megachurch in Colorado and pioneered the multisite strategy for Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago. Jim is the author of 125 Tips for MultiSite Churches and co-author of Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work. Jim is based in Scottsdale, AZ. You can email him directly at jim@multisitesolutions.com, subscribe to his MultiSightings blog or follow him on Twitter.

Minggu, 29 Januari 2017

An Unexpected Phone Call Helps Church Cross Cultural Barriers

An Unexpected Phone Call Helps Church Cross Cultural Barriers

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Cross-cultural ministry is quite common at Reformation Faith Ministries in Kokomo.
A pastor’s vision, accelerated by a surprise phone call, led to some incredible opportunities for Reformation Faith Ministries in Kokomo, Indiana. Most recently, the predominantly black church welcomed and fed 150 white people for a memorial service.
As it turns out, cross-cultural ministry is quite common at Reformation Faith.
“I didn’t think it would pan out exactly like this,” says Antonio Stewart, pastor of Reformation Faith, a church of about 55 attendees.
Around 2010, Stewart sensed God’s call to lead a nondenominational, multicultural church. Finally, in 2014, a group of six people began meeting with him to pray, fast and save money while looking for a “fixer-upper” they could afford in which to host a new church.
A few months later, he received an unexpected phone call.
The Friends Church, a predominantly white Quaker church, had seen a decrease in numbers, and the leadership wanted Stewart, whom they had just met, to buy their fully furnished building, which appraised for about $900,000. They were only asking for $50,000 from Stewart.
“It was dramatic,” Stewart says. “I never thought that we would walk into something like that.”
The church’s copiers, pianos, Bibles, a van, an organ—“everything you can name”—were included, he says.
The sellers gave Stewart two requirements: Don’t sell, and minister to the community. The area surrounding the church is mostly white, but Stewart, who served six years in the racially diverse military, was ready.
Reformation Faith’s ministries include back-to-school giveaways, a food pantry and outreach to the homeless and prisoners.
Referring to the church’s congregation, which includes African-Americans, whites and Hispanics, Stewart says, “In Scripture, I never saw where it should be either white or black.”
REFORMATION FAITH MINISTRIES
Kokomo, Indiana
TheReformationFaithMinistries.com

4 Reasons Every Pastor Should Journal

4 Reasons Every Pastor Should Journal

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“In a world of deep conversations, we need a place to ponder better questions, not just finely tuned answers.”
Journaling has been one of the most intimidating, yet life-giving habits I’ve ever started.
For years, I’ve had numerous failed attempts at journaling. Part of it was the thought of seeing it as a diary: “Dear Diary, today I don’t want to write in you because I feel stupid writing this way as if you are a real person.” Other times I failed because I didn’t see myself as capable of writing anything meaningful.
Why? Writing has always been an area of insecurity for me. I don’t see myself as “well-spoken.” Or, what if someone found my journal and read my thoughts? Are they going to be critical of them? (If I were really honest with you, this was the reason I fought blogging for years.)
So periodically, I’d buy a nice journal, try it for a few days, get frustrated, literally throw it across the room, pick it up and put it on the shelf.
Rinse and repeat.
My failure came not from the attempt, but the mindset going into it. I felt I needed to journal the way (I felt) others were journaling. I’d hear about how other pastors did it and thought to myself, “What the heck is wrong with me that I can’t do this?”
I’d even ask others about their approach, try it out, feel like a failure again and step away. I liken it to David trying on Saul’s armor. What they handed me didn’t fit right. I needed to move forward but needed to discover what “fit” me in confronting the things I was facing.
It was during a time when I was dealing with a season of depression that I found myself in “my Psalm.” But that day, something changed in me. It’s as if God gave me a new view of the Psalms—yes, as songs and poetry, but also as a journal. I felt the Psalms were helping me peer into the heart and emotions of some very human leaders who were dealing with deep thoughts, both good and bad.
Maybe it was the almost “unprocessed” approach of the Psalm writers that connects with me. Some of the chapters seem written with an unfiltered heart and no concern over who will read the their words/lyrics. Yet these words were not simply “venting.” They were the bleeding of the heart to express, through words, what the heart was experiencing. I began to see the writers developing new perspectives as, over and over, the chaos of what they saw was overshadowed by the enduring love and mercy of God.
The Psalms gave me permission to journal the way I needed to journal. Just as the 150 chapters held so much variety in length, subject and style, I felt the Lord released my pen to transcribe not a form, but a moment. I didn’t have to step into a style, but I could work out what was in my heart. Some days, my journal pages have looked like Psalm 117. Other days are a bit like Psalm 119. Length didn’t matter; the journal moment did.

1. In a world of reactions, we need more careful thoughts.

Journaling has been my place to process and work though what is deep in my heart. From blogs, to sermons, to my personal devotions, the meditations of my heart are worked through privately before they’re made public. Journaling for me is an act of stewardship. Everything God has given me I need to be a steward and manager of. Blasting people with rawness can my make my flesh feel good, but it can taint the testimony of Christ in my life. I don’t want my pride to shine brighter than the Christ in me. So I journal.
There exists a horrible habit in social media of posting before processing. There is a boldness people feel behind a screen that has developed into an unhealthy way to express raw thoughts before you’ve taken time to gather them.
Friendships have been compromised over misunderstandings. Hurt and pride have kept apologies from being expressed. I often wonder if people are using social media to process what is happening internally. And when those thoughts are rejected while in the “processing stage,” the depth of rejection and bitterness goes deeper. Thus, journaling can be a huge help of guiding us toward stewarding our mind and emotions.

2. In a world of deep conversations, we need a place to ponder better questions, not just finely tuned answers.

When I read the gospels, I love that Jesus could be approached with questions. I also love that he asked questions back. I feel that we in Christianity spend so much time working on apologetic answers when we should, first, have apologetic lives. It’s easier to tell someone how to live than it is to show someone how to live. And the way to work that out is to begin to ask the questions that are on your heart. My journal becomes that place to ask questions, both to God and myself.
Questions are good, and God is not intimidated by them. Some of my questions to God are as I’m trying to wrap my finite mind around things in this world. Other questions are things that, I feel, the Holy Spirit is asking of me. God is big enough for my questions. Are we “big enough” for his, and do we have a place to work them out? Thus, I have my journal.

3. We don’t need a place “get out our feelings” necessarily, but to sort through our thoughts.

Again, I don’t do diaries, but I’m not against emotional exercises where we need to get out our feelings. For me, journaling is about processing. And most of the time, those thoughts don’t get completely worked through in one day or moment. Sometimes a thought is carried over weeks and months. But my journal helps me to work through it, sometimes table it for a while, and then refer back to it as I take progressive steps forward in it.
Journal tip: I use hashtags in my journal like most people use on social media to identify topics and thoughts. It gives me to ability to more easily look back through to past thoughts and posts.

4. A journal is your “altar reminder.”

A common practice in the Old Testament was to set up reminders. Shepherds would scratch accomplishments on their staffs. Scribes would write on tablets. But people, often, would build an altar. It was set up so that every time somebody saw it, it would be that reminder of what God spoke and what God accomplished.
Periodically, I’ll look back through a journal. I’ve cringed at some thoughts and things written. I’ve also shed some tears as I was so humbled by the way the Lord had faithfully worked in my life. But too many people don’t have those “altar reminders” that help show how faithful God has been.
I think of Psalm 77 when the writer feels forgotten. Then, in verses 11 and 12, he remembers the deeds and works of God. I like to imagine him thumbing through some previous scrolls and seeing other “altar reminders” in his life to remind him that even though his senses can’t detect God, it doesn’t mean that God has stopped working. God has been faithful in the past and he will be faithful in the future.
If you’re ready to step out into this tremendous life-giving habit, then I’d give you this advice:

1. Buy a comfortable journal.

It’s got to be something you like AND something you see of value. Investing a few bucks on it will help bring value to what you are doing. Also, it’s got to be comfortable to write in. I need lines; you may not.

2. Start simple.

Write down what Scripture you read each day and a thought or two. Don’t think you need to write a lot, and don’t think you need to have a specific order to your words. Some days I write three sentences, some days a whole page. I include bullet points and arrows, circle words and create hashtags.

3. Find your time.

It doesn’t matter what time it is, but work to find consistency. You may try it and discover that journaling is tough because of the time of day. Don’t get discouraged—just change to a consistent time that fits you.

4. Make it accessible.

I keep mine in my backpack with my computer. When I get ready to work, the journal comes out with my work ready for me to write. When I go into a meeting, I like to have it handy in case I need to write down a thought to process later. If I don’t have it, I use an app on my phone and make a notation that this is a “journal thought.”
You’ve got this. As difficult as it was to begin, it has helped me become a better man, husband, father, pastor and preacher. Stewardship over our thoughts, if handled well, can position us to be more effective kingdom builders. And like many things, the most difficult things we root into our habits develop the sweetest fruit in our lives.
Dave Barringer (@PDBarringer) is the lead pastor at Kalamazoo First Assembly of God in Portage, Michigan. He blogs about pastoring and marriage at PDave.me.

How the Presence of God Fuels Our Mission

How the Presence of God Fuels Our Mission

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David Fitch: “We not only gather in God’s presence on Sundays, we live in his presence the other six days of the week.”
A couple years ago, I was on a weekend church retreat at a Michigan City, Indiana, beach house, when an unusual conversation broke out. About 20 people were gathered on the back porch to discuss the direction of their church, and I was acting as their consultant. They had moved to a specific suburb of Chicago about two years earlier to plant this church. They had engaged with many hurting people in the neighborhood. They had made inroads into community activities and were involved in bringing healing to some of the town’s basic needs. But they were frustrated.
“What are we doing here? We’ve been here two years and nothing is happening!” said one of the men, Matt. “We haven’t seen any more people come to our Sunday gathering. We haven’t seen any conversions.” Matt wasn’t seeing a connection between what they did on Sundays and the rest of the week.
Then, a woman named Sylvia jumped in, “I don’t know what I’m doing with Joan in the neighborhood. She’s so broken. I thought I was helping her, but now you’re all telling me I’m enabling her. I thought this is what we were doing here as a church. Now I’m so confused as to whether I’m supposed to be doing anything.”
Sylvia, it seems, saw the helping of hurting people as the work of the church. But she was not clear as to how what they did as the church extended into her relationship with her neighbor.
Both Matt and Sylvia illustrated a disconnect between their organized church life with God in worship and discipleship and the life they led with God in their neighborhoods.
This disconnect, I suggest, is common in today’s missional churches. Churches that emphasize God’s mission in the world and urge Christians to participate in it often find many Matts or Sylvias among them. We struggle to connect what happens “in here” as a committed people of God gathered on Sunday to what happens “out there,” where Christians minister daily among the struggles and injustices of the world.
This all changes when we understand that God is always present and at work in the world, and the church—as a people—is called to be faithful to his presence through Jesus Christ. We not only gather in his presence on Sundays, we live in his presence, discern his presence and witness to his presence in the world the other six days of the week. What we do on Sunday, tending to the presence of Christ as we gather together, enables us to discern that same presence at work in the rest of our lives and in our neighborhoods. Discipleship and mission are inextricably linked. And the church is neither Matt’s emphasis nor Sylvia’s emphasis alone—but both are intricately intertwined.

Being Faithful to His Presence

The theme of God’s presence runs through the entire Bible, beginning with Adam and Eve in the garden, to the tabernacle and the temple among the people of Israel, to God coming to us as “Emmanuel–God with us,” all the way to the new heaven and the new earth where God dwells fully present among his people (Rev. 21:3-4,22).
The Old Testament speaks regularly of God’s presence in the world. Yet God was still especially present with his chosen people Israel via the tabernacle and then the temple. John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us.” Through Jesus, God came to dwell with humanity through his people, the body of Christ, the church, which the apostle labels “the temple of the living God” (2 Cor. 6:16). The entire story of the Bible leads toward God restoring creation to his presence through Jesus Christ and his people.
It is amazing the ways that Jesus promises to be present among us. To name just a few, Jesus tells his disciples that when you have a conflict, and two or three come together and agree, “I am there among you” (Matt. 18:20). When Jesus inaugurated the Lord’s Table, he said, “Whenever you eat this meal, be present to my presence” [my translation of the Greek word anamnesis, which is typically translated as “remember me”] (Luke 22:19). And so the church has long recognized Jesus’ special presence at the Lord’s Table.
In Luke Chapter 10, Jesus tells his disciples who proclaim the gospel that “those who listened to you heard me, and those who rejected you reject me” (Luke 10:16). Jesus is saying he is present in the proclaiming of the gospel. In Matt. 25:34-46, in a parable, Jesus tells his disciples that when they are with “the least of these,” ministering among the poor, he is there present with them. In each of these disciplines—I contend in my book Faithful Presence that there are seven of these disciplines—Jesus promises to be present among us.
When we gather as Christians on Sunday, we gather to encounter his presence. We encounter his presence in all the ways described above: at the hearing of the gospel proclaimed, as we eat around the Table, as we tend to each other’s needs, as we discern conflicts together, as we submit our lives to God’s reign in prayer. Yet this experiencing of God’s presence does not stop when we leave church and go home. Because God is present and at work in the world, these disciplines help us discern his presence at work in the world, as well.

Discerning His Presence in House Groups

And so, when Christians gather in homes to eat together, we do just what we did on Sunday. We tend to his presence around the table. We give thanks and open our lives to whatever God would do here among us. We submit all things to Christ. We quiet our egos and tend to the people around the table. On Sunday, the bread and the cup taught us how God works in Christ. So we look for God bringing people to his forgiveness—reconciliation and renewal of all things. A space is opened up for God to work as Christians gather to eat in their neighborhoods.
One night, my “house group” was sitting around the table sharing a meal together as was our custom every Friday night. We were eating together, talking, listening and tending to one another. We had grown in trust. We had learned to recognize how Jesus was present among us. A few of us, including myself, shared about family struggles. People listened as we shared the conflicts we were struggling through.
As I listened to my friend share about how he and his wife were walking through the darkness, seeing little signs that God was taking them somewhere with their oldest child, I felt encouraged. I also saw some signs of hope in my own marriage. In conversation that night, I was challenged to look at my anger and control. Someone recalled a text from the previous Sunday’s sermon (one I had preached). I received all this because I was able to submit to Christ’s real presence at work around this table. That same night, Hillary, one of our friends, was with us. As she listened, her eyes widened. She said nothing. But God was speaking. She was seeing new possibilities for healing in her own family relationships.
As we prayed that night, we put all these things before God, asking him to be present. As I looked back weeks later, I recognized how that night had opened up space for Christ’s presence to work in all of our lives and disciple us into the ways of Jesus in our families.

His Presence Always Takes Us into the World

But of course God is at work among those who do not yet recognize him as Lord. And so the things we practice on Sunday and live around our tables at home must extend into the places where he is not yet recognized.
As we go to the various third places of our lives—the YMCAs, the PTA meetings, the coffee houses, the local bars, the parks where children and parents play, the town hall meetings, the places where we work, wherever we share a meal or a beverage—we go in the confidence that God is already present there, as well. The only difference between these places and our homes is that we are guests in these places. We come to sit, listen and tend to what God is doing among others, and when the space is opened, we offer reconciliation, pray for healing and proclaim the gospel. We know Christ is there, but we cannot assume he will be welcomed. This is all under his lordship and yet to be seen.
For years, I spent the first three hours of my day at a McDonald’s, grading papers and doing communications and other work I had to get done. The coffee was cheap and the Wi-Fi was free. Over time, I began to be open to discerning Christ’s presence in that place. I saw an amazing cacophony of people flowing through there, many seeking to be known and to know others. They were seeking presence. As I made myself available, as I listened and tended to people, a space opened for Jesus to be present. The booth in McDonald’s would be transformed into an extension of the Lord’s Table.
Picture, if you can, me sitting across from John, a man who had been homeless for three years. I am anxious. I am busy with my work. I am preoccupied. John is talking about a conspiracy theory about Mars and President Obama (I am not exaggerating). But the Spirit is telling me to tend to what God is doing in John’s life, to believe that God is at work around this table. And so I cast my eyes on John. I quiet my ego and stop my fidgeting. I put aside all of my own agendas and make space to discern God’s presence at this table. John senses something. I ask him what evidence he has for the Obama conspiracy with Mars, but we move on to much more interesting discussions.
Several conversations later, around Christmas, John tells me he hasn’t seen his kids in 10 years. We unravel some of the pain together. I tell him I believe Jesus is Lord and is at work reconciling all things. I tell him some of my own testimony. I tell him I believe God is working to reconcile John with his kids. In other words, I share the gospel. He tells me all the reasons why this cannot happen. I say I believe Jesus is Lord, and invite John to trust him. John says yes, and so we write a letter to his children, asking for forgiveness. This sets off a string of events in which God works to restore and heal. John and I both experience being forgiven and forgiving others in ways that transform both our lives. A year later, John is with his family at Christmas. Two years later, John has a job. And people in McDonald’s are asking, “What has happened to John?” John and I were both discipled during that experience.
There are many more episodes like this that illustrate not only how God changes a person, but also how he changes situations and unjust systems. In each case, it is amazing how the dynamics change when I, as a Christian, open up space to discern Christ’s presence around a table with people who do not yet know him as Lord. I am no longer a person who knows something that the other person doesn’t. I am no longer that person trying to get someone else to do something I think he or she should do. Instead, I am transported into this arena where God is already at work in Christ, and I am privileged to witness what God is doing. In the process, I, the Christian, learn and grow as much, if not more, than the one I am spending time with.

Discipleship as a Way of Life

That evening on the back porch in Michigan City, I asked the group to count the number of significant relationships they had with people in their neighborhoods. It could be the neighbor next door, the zoning committee chairman of the village, the town hall policeman or woman they met with to discuss race issues in the community, or a hurting widow they had met at the coffee shop. We counted about 75 people who they were involved with in long-term, real-life relationships in various kinds of situations. I then asked if their church attendance was 50 people (the total who showed up on Sunday) or 125, the total number of relationships with whom they were discerning the presence of Christ at work among them. I argued it was the latter.
Often, churches separate discipleship and worship from evangelism. We mistakenly make discipleship about personal growth with Jesus and make evangelism about explicitly telling others about Jesus. But when discipleship means discerning Christ’s presence in my life, in the people around me and in all my encounters with others—whether at work, in third places, schools or neighborhoods—discipleship is inseparable from mission. As such, discipleship can no longer be a program at the local church. Evangelism cannot be something we do exclusively on a weeknight outreach event. Instead, both are joined as a whole way life, given to his church, called to be his faithful presence in the world.
Some of this article was adapted from excerpts from Faithful Presence: 7 Disciplines That Shape the Church for Mission (IVP, 2016).
Order this book on Amazon.com »
David Fitch is B.R. Linder Chair of Evangelical Theology at Northern Seminary in Chicago.

5 Legitimate Fears of a Church Planter

5 Legitimate Fears of a Church Planter

Over the course of a church planting journey, pastors face many fears. And that's OK.
Having participated in two church plants as a planter, and now working with church planters on a regular basis in a coaching capacity, I know firsthand the fears associated with planting a church. It’s a leap of faith, and one God is calling many to these days.
My theory here is that recognizing the fears and realizing their legitimacy is part of guarding our hearts against them. The fact remains that for a church plant to be successful, at least in Kingdom terms, God must provide His grace.

Here are five legitimate fears of church planters:

1. No one will show up. If we do all this work and it doesn’t work, what will we do? You’ll be thankful you were obedient to what you believe God called you to do and wait patiently for Him to provide. We had to consistently remind our core team that God was in control of numbers. Our job was to be faithful. That doesn’t mean you stop inviting people or investing in the community around you, but you trust that God will stir hearts for His work.
2. We can’t afford it. You probably can’t. There will seldom be enough money, or so it may seem at times. God calls us to big tasks. Church planting is hard and not cheap. But the Lord will provide resources for His vision. Again, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to educate people on the needs or help them understand the command, value and blessing of giving, but it does mean you trust God even when the checkbook balance is low.
It also doesn’t mean you won’t have to wait to make major purchases or there won’t be times you have to wait until “Sunday’s offering” to get paid. Our paycheck was delayed several times the first couple of years so other bills and other staff could be paid, but we were never hungry.
3. I don’t know what I’m doing. Isn’t it wonderful? It means you’re insufficient without His sufficiency. What a great place to reside! The great news is that many have gone before you. Learn from others and stay on your knees before God.
4. People will leave. True. Most core teams are cut in half in the first few years. At first, I thought we were to be the exception. We weren’t. Other people will come and never return. But some will stick. And they will have hearts for the vision. And in them, we rejoice at what God has done. We build our teams around those whom God sends to us and who remain steadfast to the journey ahead. That team may change several times the first few years.
5. We don’t have a building. No, but you probably don’t have a mortgage either. And you’re raising up an army of volunteers for set up and tear down. You are building service and sacrifice into your DNA as a church. Isn’t it wonderful! Don’t lose that atmosphere and culture of dependency, even when you have a building someday.
Final thought. These fears are legitimate, real fears. Don’t be ashamed that you have them. The key is not to live in them, but to live and walk in the faith that God will complete His plans and enable those He calls.
What other fears have you experienced in church planting?

Church Planting & Letting Go

Church Planting & Letting Go…

When I told my buddy about my church planting plans, he said, “You’ll never let go of the ring, Frodo, they never do.”
My friend Ken Hiroshige was also my dentist. He drilled me with words while while working a long needle into my jaw.
“They never let go when they get to your place. It just isn’t done. There is too much pride involved. You’d have to really sell out and I don’t think you can.”
Ken compared leaving a large Southern California pastorate to Frodo letting go of that magic ring in Tolkien’s books. He knew that I’d trade security and recognition for the insecurity that comes with planting a new church. However, he was also very wrong in his assumption that “this just isn’t done.”

Leaving What You Know

I had just told Ken that I felt God calling me to leave a great life to plant a church in Kaneohe, Hawaii. The church plant would involve people of a different racial and cultural background than mine. My wife and I would leave a congregation of more than 2,000 people and a California beach town that fit like our own skin. We’d move away from friends whom we dearly loved. All this while our church benefited from heaps of improbable attention in the local, and national, media.
The Associated Press had recently released a story about our church that appeared on more than 40 radio stations, newspapers and TV networks across the country. A big LA newspaper published a two-page spread, complete with photos. The biggest rock station in Canada interviewed us twice. Esquire magazine kicked it off with an eight-page story that mushroomed into our 15 minutes of fame. This was heady stuff to relinquish for the relative obscurity of a new church plant, in a place where I knew practically no one.

Losing To Gain

The Bible brims over with stories of people who let go of the “ring” in their lives.
God called Abraham to forsake familiar circumstances–his father’s inheritance, political power and family idols. God never gave him a map. He only promised to show him the land after he got there.
Read about Joseph, Moses, Daniel, Jesus disciples and Saul of Tarsus. You must let go of personal control whenever God calls you into something new. When you let go, you surrender the (sometimes boring ) benefit of familiarity for the excitement of living in faith. Scary, but fun.

Church Planting While Letting Go

Every church planter knows this well. And, those who send them also struggle. Sending churches let go of good leaders, money and people whenever they multiply a church. The  kingdom of God gains first, but we do to. God does give to those who give and he blesses those who yield to his call.
The move resulted in a conglomeration of a couple of thousand churches, tons of new friends and a life worth living. I’m glad we did it. Now, I face upheaval all over again. This time it isn’t to plant a church. I’m retiring from my job as pastor of Hope Chapel Honolulu.
I thought retirement brought quiet hours with friends and catching up on novels and history books. The actual “retirement” now presents several new and busy opportunities to share the message of this post–how to make disciples and multiply churches. Retirement may be different than I envisioned, but each time I’ve let go, I’ve found that God has new blessings waiting. I’m excited!
Once you experience it, letting go should get easier each time he asks…
(Adapted from chapter one of Let Go Of The Ring: The Hope Chapel Story, fifth edition)

Jumat, 27 Januari 2017

How to Value The Singles In Your Church & Get Them Plugged In


How to Value The Singles In Your Church & Get Them Plugged In

Posted by Sarah Newsome on 1/26/17 7:49 AM
How to Value The Singles In Your Church & Get Them Plugged In.jpg
As humans, we like to categorize things. And not just things; we like to categorize people, too. Church ministries tend to be dictated by the categories that we come up with, and most of the time, it makes perfect sense: Children’s Ministry, Student Ministry, and Men’s / Women’s Ministries exist because each of these groups has some needs specific to its own members.
But what about the (oft-dreaded) Singles Ministry? Churches recognize that young, unmarried adults might want to spend time with others who are in the same stage of life as they are, but then don’t know how to minister to them or value their potential contributions without simply relegating them to some thinly-veiled "dating ministry."
I don’t think that churches actually view singleness as a “less-than” phase of life, but they don’t know how to integrate singles into church life in a meaningful way for both the single members of their congregation and the church itself.
Here are a few suggestions for doing just that.

1. Don’t call it a Singles Ministry.

This kind of name for your ministry - even if the targeted demographic is almost entirely unmarried young adults - inherently defines its members as, first and foremost, single. It can also make them feel like they’re in a dating ministry. While some probably want to meet their future spouse (and might at your church), I’d argue that most don’t want to have to think about impressing the opposite sex every time they step foot in church.

Most singles don’t want to have to think about impressing people every time they step foot in church.Tweet: Most singles don’t want to have to think a/b impressing people every time they step foot in church. http://bit.ly/2jpw2XQ @VanderbloemenSG

Also, it can make unmarried but dating members of your congregation feel a bit lost - they’re not technically single, but they also can’t join a young marrieds group. And if your adult groups or small groups are all comprised of married couples, those can be a bit intimidating to the not-yet-marrieds.

2. Create a mentoring pipeline.

As a mid-twenties member of a church in Washington, DC, I was struggling to find someone a bit more mature in her faith walk to help guide me. I asked my pastor, who graciously suggested his wife (with her permission, of course - pastors, please don’t volunteer your spouses without first asking them!). But a lot of my friends weren’t as blessed to get connected to an older Christian for the kind of one-on-one time I had with my mentor.
An established system for pairing young adults with older mentors would help bridge the divide that can sometimes develop between generations. Learning from Christians who are further on their faith journeys would help young unmarrieds focus on the long-term goal of their own faith and give older Christians a way to impart their learned wisdom to the next generation.

3. Connect singles & families.

One of the best ways to prevent division between singles and families is to purposefully bring them together. Your church can develop a program where singles can be paired up with families where the young adults are invited for dinners or to fun family outings, and young adults can help serve the families by helping to cook, do household repairs, or babysit. Along with a mentorship pipeline, this kind of program can normalize full integration of all the different segments of your congregation into a unified body that is striving together.
What are some ways your church is ministering to singles and integrating them into the life of the church in a holistic way?
If you liked this, you'll also enjoy 4 Sure-Fire Ways To Drive Singles From Your Church.
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