Monday, April 28, 2008

More Missional Conversations

Do you take the time to discover people's spiritual journeys?

In attempting to build relationships and engage those in the culture around us, it is important to listen to their stories. As I noted in a previous post:
Every person has a story – a unique story of their life history, including their spiritual journey. To understand their journey, you need to know where they have been, where they are and where they are going. By understanding their story, you can be prepared to share your story in a way that they can relate to – and ultimately tell God’s story of grace and forgiveness.
In John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany he begins the first chapter with the main character describing his spiritual journey:
I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice--not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother's death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany. I make no claims to have a life in Christ, or with Christ--and certainly not for Christ, which I've heard a lot of zealots claim. I'm not very sophisticated in my knowledge of the Old Testament, and I've not read the New Testament since my Sunday school days, except for those passages that I hear read aloud to me when I go to church. I'm somewhat more familiar with the passages from the Bible that appear in the Book of Common Prayer; I read my prayer book often, and my Bible only on holy days--the prayer book is so much more orderly.

I've always been a pretty regular churchgoer. I used to be a Congregationalist--I was baptized in the Congregationalist Church, and after some years of fraternity with Episcopalians (i was confirmed in the Episcopal Church, too), I became rather vague in my religion: in my teens I attended a "non-denominational" church. Then I became an Anglican; the Anglican Church of Canada ha been my church--every since I left the United States, about twenty years ago. Being an Anglican is a lot like being an Episcopalian--so much so that being an Anglican occasionally impresses upon me the suspicion that I have simply become an Episcopalian again. Anyway, I left the Congregationalists and the Episcopalians--and my country once and for all.

When I die, I shall attempt to be buried in New Hampshire--alongside my mother--but the Anglican Church will perform the necessary service before my body suffers the indignity of trying to be sneaked through U.S. customs. My selections from the Order for the Burial of the Dead are entirely conventional and can be found, in the order that I shall have them read--not sung--in the Book of Common Prayer. Almost everyone I know will be familiar with the passages from John, beginning with "...whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." And then there's "...in my Father's house are many mansions: If it were not so, I would have told you." And I have always appreciated the frankness expressed in that passage from Timothy, the one that goes "...we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out." It will be a by-the-book Anglican service, the kind that would make my former fellow Congregationalists fidget in their pews. I am an Anglican now, and I shall die an Anglican. But I skip a Sunday service now and then; I make no claims to be especially pious; I have a church-rummage faith--the kind that needs patching up every weekend. What faith I have I owe to Owen Meany, a boy I grew up with. It is Own who made me a believer.
When I read those opening paragraphs of Irving's book, I was intrigued by this account of the main character's spiritual journey. Certain phrases that he used seemed to indicate that he was a Christian. However, he gave no indication that he had a personal faith in Jesus Christ and His work on the cross to pay the penalty of his sin. I found myself wanting to ask questions to discover the depth of his faith and why he felt it needed "patching up every weekend."

Years ago I was taught the importance of sharing my story or my "testimony"--and I've told that story over and over again. I am so grateful for God's grace in my life.

I also learned how to share the Gospel story--that God is a loving God, that man is sinful and separated from God, that God is just and must punish sin, that God solved the dilemma between His love and His justice by sending Jesus Christ to die on the cross to pay the penalty for sin, that Christ rose from the dead conquering the power of sin and death, and that salvation comes to those who place their personal faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone.

However, I am more convinced than ever that it is important for Christians to listen to the spiritual journeys of those who don't yet know Christ. We need to start spiritual conversations and discover how God has already been working in drawing others to Himself.

After hearing their story we are better able to communicate His story in ways that help them to understand the grace of God.

Share Your Story!
Hear Their Story!
Share His Story!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Developing Your Launch Team

"Let's not be on a mission of community;
let's be a community on mission."


Darrin Patrick shared those words at the Exponential Conference in Florida this past week. He challenged planters who are just getting started: "It doesn't matter how gifted you are, you need a team." Even Jesus had a team (Mark 3). He added, "It's not about talent, it's about team."

He outlined the importance of being highly selective of who is on your launch team as you start a new church. Here are some of his main ideas:
  • Get the right people
  • Assess qualifications - look for qualities of elders and deacons
  • Work to raise up your own leaders
  • Be clear about the mission
In developing an elder team, he cautioned - "Take your time raising up your elders, because you might be raising up your own assassins."

"Having no team will destroy you, your family and your church. Having the wrong team will destroy you, your family and your church."

"Team starts with the character of the leader. If you are not biblically qualified, it messes up your team."

"The less time you spend with God, the more mistakes you spend on people."

"If you can't pastor your family, you can't pastor a church."

"People will join because of your gifts, but stay because of your marriage and your character."



Friday, April 25, 2008

Why don't we see movements in America?

At the Exponential Conference in Orlando yesterday, someone asked Pastor Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan - "Why don't we see movements in America?"
I am not sure about that....Trying to lead Americans is like herding cats. Bill Cosby contrasts cats and dogs. When you come home, your dog says, "Do you need anything?" - your cat doesn't look at you. Americans are difficult to lead. They are more complicated....Americans are too individualistic. That's one of the reasons we don't have movements.
He also talked about 6 THINGS which churches that experience revival need to BALANCE:
  1. Dynamic Worship
  2. A Strong Emphasis on Teaching and Preaching - "The purpose of a sermon is to make the truth real, not just clear."
  3. Major Emphasis on Life-Changing Community - "Life doesn't change in worship services. You become like the people you hang out with, not the people you hear preach."
  4. Outward Focussed Evangelism
  5. Passion for Justice and the Poor
  6. Cultural Engagement - "Help people integrate their faith and work."
Check out Tim Keller's new book: The Reason For God

Thursday, April 24, 2008

If You Want to Start a Blog

When I was at the Exponential Conference this week, I went to a seminar with bloggers. Generally speaking, I didn't walk away with a whole lot to think about; however, they did have some good thoughts for those who may want to start blogging. So - if that's you, here are some things you may want to consider.
  • Be cautious with sharing personal information.
  • Beware of using your blog as a way of escape when ministry gets difficult.
  • Don't just post your sermon from Sunday. "Blogs that suck the worst are written by pastors who like to preach."
  • When getting started, send out emails to your friends when you post something new.
  • Don't get sucked into checking your "stats" too frequently.
  • Use Feedburner.
  • Check out twitter for mobile posting.
Ask these questions before you get started:
  1. Who is your audience? Who are you writing for?
  2. What is your theme? What is your feel? - your blog is an extension of you
  3. How often are you going to blog? - set guidelines
  4. How much time are you willing to invest? - it can be very habit forming
Scott Hodges, Chris Elrod and Todd Rhodes facilitated the conversation. Thanks guys!

I would suggest using blogger.com - you can get started in less than 10 minutes!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Segregation and the Church

From Mark DeYmaz at the Exponential Conference...
If the kingdom is not segregated in heaven, why is it here on earth?
  • 92 1/2% of churches in America are segregated
  • 7 1/2 % of churches are at least 80%/20% split
  • 2-3% of Protestant churches and 5% of Catholic churches are integrated
By 2047, the U.S. will be majority minority.

People will no longer believe the gospel preached by segregated lips.

If our churches are segregated, what does that say to the world about the God we worship?

The single greatest movement of the 21st century will be the integration of the church for the sake of the gospel!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

NNCC: Planting Multi-Ethnic Churches

This morning at the Exponential Conference, I attended a session that focused on multi-ethnic church planting. This is becoming a growing passion for me. I believe that church planting in America must embrace starting multi-ethnic churches.

In today's session, George Yancey discussed several approaches to assessing churches and identifying the multiracial potential of your church.

Rev. Ed Lee, pastor of Mosaic Community Covenant Church in Missouri City, Texas (mosaicpeople.org), presented a very helpful comparison of a variety of approaches to being a multi-ethnic church. The reality is that not all churches that would identify themselves as "multi-ethnic" will look the same or have the same emphasis, fundamental commitments, or motivations. I would encourage you to spend some time studying this chart:

Variations 2-4 are true expressions of multi-ethnic churches. You may discover that your church is a hybrid of a couple of these variations.

Mark DeYmaz, pastor of a proven multi-ethnic church in Little Rock, Arkansas (mosaicchurch.net), described a timeline of the development toward a movement of multi-ethnic churches in the United States. He identified four books that are significant in the pioneer stage of this movement:
  • Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America (2001) by Michael Emerson and Christian Smith
  • United by Faith: The Multiracial Congregation As an Answer to the Problem of Race (2003) by Curtiss Paul DeYoung, Michael Emerson, George Yancey and Karen Chai Kim
  • One Body, One Spirit: Principles of Successful Multiracial Churches (2003) by George Yancey
  • Building a Healthy Multi-Ethnic Church: Mandate, Commitments and Practices of a Diverse Congregation (2007) by Mark DeYmaz
He believes that this multi-ethnic church movement is "the single greatest movement in the 21st century." I am inclined to believe him!

Executive Director of Mosaix, Jim Spoonts, then shared the vision for a Multi-Ethnic Church Movement. They are seeking to inspire unity and diversity in the local church throughout North America and beyond through casting vision, connecting, conferencing and coaching. You can discover more at www.mosaix.info.

An Interview with Hugh Halter and Matt Smay

I've enjoyed connecting with my friends Hugh Halter and Matt Smay here at the Exponential Conference in Orlando. I found this interview online about their new book. Check it out...
Why did you write this book?
We wrote The Tangible Kingdom primarily because we found that our story seemed to be helpful to leaders who were struggling to create a “missional church.” There had been a lot of authors philosophizing or theorizing about missional church, while others had been content to deconstruct past forms of church without creating an alternative way forward. We wanted to bridge the gap between the two by focusing on the ancient examples of incarnational community.
For the rest of the interview, click here.

Monday, April 21, 2008

NNCC: Attractional AND Incarnational Church Planting

I am at the National New Church Conference in Orlando, Florida this week. I arrived a day earlier to attend a Pre-Conference Intensive on "Attractional AND Incarnational Church Planting." Sally Morgenthaler is moderating a panel with Darrin Patrick, Alan Hirsch, Greg Hawkins and Neil Cole. They've tried really hard not to create sparks and controversy by making this a discussion of which is a better: the attractional approach vs. the incarnational approach.

Unfortunately, there were some technical issues that made it difficult as they got started. Overall, it was an interesting discussion as each speaker explained their perspectives on ministry that is incarnational.

Here are some quotes to ponder:
Greg Hawkins

"If you are just trying to attract to get big - that's nasty."

"I've been around too many people who focus on 'how big is your church?'"
Neil Cole

"The problem is that we've defined maturity wrongly. More knowledge doesn't mean more mature. Maturity comes from living a life of radical obedience."

Definition of a disciple: "Dead Man Walking. It begins with death." A disciple is "someone who surrenders everything to follow Christ."
Alan Hirsch

"Drop the word evangelism and get involved in disciplemaking."

"It's not that you ought not be attractive. Christianity ought to be attractive, but its about one's missionary stance in regard to the culture. Attractional is an approach that says 'Come to us.'"

"You can't consume your way into discipleship."

"We live in a capitalistic nation and we have a consumerist church."
Darrin Patrick

Definition of Attractional - "using buildings, technologies, gifts, leadership...to proclaim the gospel."

Definition of Incarnational - "Christians living out the gospel in their cultural context like Jesus who tabernacled among us."


I did my best to write down some of the things that I found interesting. I hope it gives you something to think about. I was a little disappointed that they didn't address how to plant an incarnational church or how to plant an attractional church = maybe that will be covered more tomorrow.

I enjoyed the discussions at our table with Chris, Keith and Michelle. I was also challenged by a pastor from Nigeria who said - "Fire begets fire. You will only produce what you are like."

Creating Incarnational Community

I got a copy today of The Tangible Kingdom by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay. This is an excellent new book that is focused on how to create incarnational community. I highly recommend it! As you hear their stories and are introduced to ways to meaningfully influence and engage those around you toward faith in Jesus -- it will give you hope that it can still be done. You can be part of God's mission in the world today!

I am at the National New Church Conference in Orlando, Florida opportunity to connect with both and had the Hugh and Matt today. These guys are the real deal. Here's how they describe what they've been doing in Denver.
We're just four years into our adventure as Adullam. We're experiencing some unusual success, but we're not measuring that success by huge leaps in attendance or a shiny new building. Compared to 3 million people in Denver, the number of people in Adullum is silly to mention. We meet in homes, pubs, and rented facilities. Our goal isn't to attract Christian people to our worship service but to be the faithful church in small pockets throughout our city. We are creating places of inclusive belonging where God's alternative Kingdom can be experienced. (p xxi)
These guys are humble - and they are making a difference right where they live. They are missionaries in their neighborhoods.

In The Tangible Kingdom, you will find some practical habits that will help you engage with those in the culture around you. This is truly the Missional Challenge!

For Further Reflection:


At the end of each chapter they include directions toward further reflection...
  • Describe the last time your heart broke for someone.
  • What do you think the increasing disinterest of the culture toward church means for the future of the church?
  • If Jesus were to trim down your Christian experience to his essentials, what would he remove? What would be left?
  • If you could no longer use words to communicate the gospel, what would you do?
  • What are some things that might be a struggle to give up in order to spend time connecting with people?
  • Pretend for a moment that your church has 50 percent of its budget to give directly to needs in your community. What would you do?
  • What would need to change in your life (time and money) to be available for benevolent action, spontaneous blessing, or service to the community?
  • What is church to you?
I will be posting a review of the book as soon as I finish it - but I'd encourage you to just start reflecting on what it means to participate in the tangible kingdom here on earth.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Fueling Multiplication Movements

The key question that every believer needs to ask is: “Do I want to be part of a movement of God’s people or do I just want to help grow a larger church?” While movements will result in the multiplication of churches, movements are not only about multiplying churches. The Church is the means or instrument to accomplish the mission.

Essentially, movements are evidence of the missionary people of God aligned with God’s missionary heart.

Multiplication movements are the work of the Spirit of God through Christ-followers who are being transformed day by day. The process of life transformation is not something that happens in a moment or even in a day or week. God develops and conforms believers to the image of His Son over their lifetime. He uses followers of Jesus who are in the process of being transformed to spread His message and mission around the world, starting in their specific geographic context.

Any attempt to encourage missional activity and hopefully, multiplication movements, must be connected to what God is accomplishing already in transforming people and places for His glory.

Only God creates movements

The concept of “fueling” multiplication movements seems almost heretical if it means that a man or woman somehow can bring about transformation at a personal or corporate or community level apart from God. That will never happen. Only God transforms.

Fueling multiplication movements is actually about identifying what God is doing already to advance His kingdom, faithfully submitting to His will, and discovering ways to align with the mission and message of Jesus. Fueling multiplication movements requires recognition of the ways that God has been working both biblically and historically, and then looking for evidence of similar activity today.

In order to fuel multiplication movements that will transform America, pastors and church leaders need to embrace different ways of doing church and discipleship. Without disciplemaking the Church will die. It will cease to exist. Yet with a commitment to multiplying disciples as Jesus commissioned, disciplemakers empowered by the Spirit of God will change the world. It will happen as they embody the mission and message of Jesus.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Missional Quote: Ardent Desire

Anyone who knows Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour must desire ardently that others should share that knowledge and must rejoice when the number of those who do is multiplied. Where this desire and this rejoicing are absent, we must ask whether something is not wrong at the very center of the church’s life.
Lesslie Newbigin, The Open Secret, p 142

Friday, April 18, 2008

What a Multiplication Movement is Not...

Neil Cole describes what a multiplication movement is not...
  • Church planting without multiple generations of churches. That's just addition.
  • Gathering together and assimilating Christians from other churches to form new ones. That's not even addition -- it's just shuffling the deck.
  • Big revivals and evangelistic crusades.
  • A centralized leadership development institution that sends out many church planters.
Then he challenged me with this thought... "Don't call it multiplying until you get to the fourth generation."

And finally... "96% 0f churches in the U.S. won't have a daughter church."

Most of us think that statement is accurate. We'd agree with that statement instead of being alarmed by it. If we heard on the news tomorrow that 96% of women in the United States were infertile - there would be widespread alarm and panic. However, when we consider that churches in America are infertile, we don't give it much attention.

God, forgive us for our indifference.


You might also check out these posts...
Missional Christianity in America
The US Church is Infertile and Dysfunctional
The US Church is Dying and Declining
The US Church is Marginalized
The US Church is Fractured and Fragmented
The US Church is Internally Focused

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Obedience-Oriented Disciplemaking and Church Planting

George Patterson worked in northern Honduras with the Conservative Baptist Home Mission Society. He developed a theological education by extension program that focused on "obedience-oriented eduction." I had the privilege of meeting him when I was first starting Lake Hills Church in Castaic.

I recently read an article he had written and was challenged by these words...
Christ commands us: "Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields" (John 4:35). A brief glance at the "fields" of over two and a half billion unreached people is awesome. Just the mathematics involved forces us to the conclusion that it is not enough to simply go to the mission field or to send someone else. It is not eve enough to go to a mission field and to start a few churches. Obedience to the Great Commission will mean that we either send and train, or go as, the type of missionary that can start churches that will grow and reproduce normally (as churches will) and start daughter churches, and granddaughter churches, and great-granddaughter churches and on and on until you have reached enormous population areas. There is not other way that we can obey Christ. (The Spontaneous Multiplication of Churches in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, p 601.)
Wow! "There is no other way that we can obey Christ." Obeying Jesus requires that we multiply disciples, leaders and churches. Patterson describes this as what churches will "normally" do - grow and reproduce and start daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter churches.

Why isn't this normal any more? When you think about a healthy couple, you normally would expect children, and eventually grandchildren. "All created living beings (the Church included) grow and reproduce." Yet, somehow, when Christians think of healthy churches, they don't expect children and grandchildren. Churches that do not reproduce are not healthy! Something is wrong. Many churches are impotent or sick - and some are obese.

If obedience to the Great Commission means that we grow disciples and start new churches, then there are a lot of Christians and a lot of churches that are disobedient. Patterson simply defines a church as "a group of believers committed to obey Christ." (p 603) He emphasizes describing the church in terms of what it is able to do and what it does, rather than in terms of structure and organization.

Since Jesus sent us to make disciples who would obey all that He commanded - our focus must not be on preaching for "decisions" but aimed at making obedient disciples.
Make obedient disciples. Then you will see churches multiply. If you just get intellectual decisions, they may believe right, they may know all the dispensations and the covenants, and they may know this and that, but what do you have? Are they multiplying churches? Are they fulfilling the Great Commission of Christ? Are they actually doing what Christ ordered? (p 610)
Patterson teaches every new believer to memorize the following list of Christ's main commands:
  1. Repent and Believe (Mark 1:15)
  2. Be Baptized (Acts 2:38)
  3. Love (John 13:34)
  4. Celebrate the Lord's Supper (Luke 22:17-20)
  5. Pray (John 16:24)
  6. Give (Matthew 6:19-21)
  7. Witness (Matthew 28:19-20)
What would happen if we taught believers from the very beginning to obey all these commands? What if we didn't wait for anything?

As I read this article by Patterson, I just said to myself - "Duh! This makes sense." Yet why did the church I planted get so easily focused on so many other things? Ugh! We kept wanting to plant a daughter church, but we never did. Patterson urges churches not to accept the argument, "We can't start a daughter church yet; our church is too weak; we must wait until we have a strong home base first."
No church is too young to obey Christ. As soon as a worker is available, send him. New churches raise up daughter churches more readily than old ones. If you wait for your church to get strong, it will also get hard; it is often impossible to mobilize an old church to start daughter churches. (p 614)
I don't teach my children that delayed obedience is acceptable. I have told them again and again that delayed obedience is disobedience. Yet when it comes to disciples who make disciples or churches that reproduce churches - we tolerate and even encourage disobedience.

God, forgive us for this!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Creating a Church Planting Proposal

Efforts to start new churches are fueled by a godly vision that focuses on living and proclaiming the gospel message to every man, woman and child in a specific geographic area so that they may come to know and believe in Jesus Christ.

If God has given you a vision to start a new church that will extend His kingdom, it is important to articulate the essential components of your vision and strategy by addressing the following questions. Praying through these questions and discovering the answers will assist other in identifying ways that to partner together with you to fulfill the Great Commission.

1. Vision – What is your vision? (include your mission statement, core values, purpose, goals, etc.)

2. Personal Background
– What has brought you to plant a church and what uniquely qualifies you to lead this church plant?

3. Team
- Who is planting this church with you and what are their roles and unique contributions?

4. Ministry Focus Group
– Who are you specifically trying to reach with the gospel? (demographics – geographically, economically, spiritually, socially, etc.) And specifically, who are you most likely to reach?

5. Strategy
- How do you plan to reach people for Christ, to accomplish your vision, to establish a church?

6. Timeline
- What has already happened and what will be happening over the next 18 months?

7. Funding
- What will it cost and where will the funds come from?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Missional Shifts

The process of Missional Transformation requires multiple shifts in the way Christ followers think and view Jesus, His mission, the church, and themselves.

From Assignment to Alignment

From Decisions to Disciples

From Seating Capacity to Sending Capacity

From "Doing Church" to "Being Church"

From Institutional Programs to Incarnational Practices


From Maintenance to Mission

From Values to Practices


Additional shifts that are necessary include:
  • From Control to Trust
  • From Internal Focus to External Focus
  • From Extraction to Immersion
  • From “Come to Church” to “Come to Jesus”
  • From Institutions to Movements
  • From Methodology to Missiology
  • From Forms to Function
  • From Inviting to Infiltrating
  • From Unchurched to Unreached
  • From Precedence to Priorities
  • From Christians to Christ-followers
Over the next few months, I intend to post further explanation of these shifts. If you have any insights regarding these shifts, please comment...

Monday, April 14, 2008

MereMission Relaunch

Last year, I contributed some posts to the Mere Mission blog. Todd Hiestand, pastor at The Well in suburban Philadelphia, has developed this site and has made some changes recently. Here's his description of what his blog is now about. I encourage you to check it out...
MereMission Friends,

It's been a while but I just wanted to let you know that I have relaunched http://www.meremission.org with a refreshed design and a new emphasis and philosophy.

I have been doing some thinking of what I want to do with it as it has sat dormant for the past 8 months or so and I have decided that, while the open-source group blog was good in concept, it just didn't work in practice.

I have also been using my personal blog for more personal type of posts and have a desire to share my experiences and thoughts about church, leadership and missional theology in a different forum.

So, I have decided that for the sake of focus and simplicity I'll be the primary blogger on this new incarnation of MereMission. I have not deleted any users and welcome guest posts from anyone.

I will personally be focusing on writing the area of leadership and local & global mission in the context of a post-christian culture.

I obviously invite your participation in the comments and even a guest post now and then.

I would also really appreciate your help getting the word out about the site. I believe that this is practical stuff will be fertile ground for a helpful conversation.

I already have a few new posts up and have a good stream of ideas in my head that will be coming out soon. I am making a goal of at least 3 posts a week.

Thanks!

Todd Hiestand

Sunday, April 13, 2008

What Does “Missional Living” Look Like to Me?

Recently, I volunteered to participate with others in answering this question. There’s been a lot of blogs about “being missional,” “missional living,” and “missional behaviors.” I’ve posted a lot about missional Christianity, missional transformation, missional distinctives, and missional practices.

When I finished my doctoral dissertation last year on Fueling Missional Movements that Transform America, I thought that I would eventually post most of it on my blog. Slowly and steadily, I keep pulling content from my dissertation and posting it on my blog along with current activities and interactions.

So—when I began to think about how to answer this question, of course, I figured I had already addressed it numerous times. However, here are some additional thoughts...

In its essence missional living is simply about “embodying the mission and message of Jesus.”

As followers of Jesus, we ought to seek to “be Jesus to everyone everywhere.”

So—here’s my “cool graphic” of what Missional Living looks like…

Missional Living is about being Jesus to everyone everywhere! Christians are those who have been sent on mission by Jesus to be Jesus!

In Acts 1:8, Jesus tells His closest followers, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” The mission of Jesus does not begin at the ends of the earth or the other side of the planet. It started in Jerusalem, which is right where they were.

For believers today, the mission of Jesus starts right where you are. The Church does not exist to bring people in; rather it exists as those who are sent out with the mission and message of Jesus, those who are sent to be His witnesses.
Mission is not merely an activity of the church. It is the very heartbeat and work of God. It is in the very being of God that the basis for the missionary enterprise is found. God is a sending God, with a desire to see humankind and creation reconciled, redeemed, and healed. The missional church, then, is a sent church. It is a going church, a movement of God through His people, sent to bring healing to a broken world. (Shaping of Things to Come, p 18)
Jesus calls His followers to join Him in His mission to save the world! Jesus said, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” He did not say, “Believe in me so that you can go to heaven.” In fact, Jesus laid down extraordinary criteria. He said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Mark 8:34). He expands that by saying, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26).

He is emphatic on this condition. Unless we deny ourselves, we cannot be His disciples. “For whoever wishes to save his life shall lost it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s shall save it” (Mark 8:35).

Jesus calls every Christian to a life of radical transformation and devotion to Christ and His mission. The sad thing is that what many Christians think is the highest level of Christianity is for Jesus the entry point.

The disciples of Jesus were not extraordinary individuals. In fact, they were described as ignorant and unlearned men. Their spiritual pedigree was far from pure. They were a band of fishermen, tax collectors, and social outcasts. Yet it was with men like these that God began His revolution of faith, hope, and love.

The Great Commission is given to every Christ-follower, not just the pastors and elders and super-spiritual Christians!
No one can say: ‘Since I’m not called to be a missionary, I do not have to evangelize my friends and neighbors.’ There is no difference, in spiritual terms, between a missionary witnessing in his home town and a missionary witnessing in Katmandu, Nepal. We are all called to go—even if it is only to the next room, or the next block.” (Thomas Hale, On Becoming a Missionary, p 6)
Missional Living is for every believer!

To me, Missional Living is about doing my part to complete His mission while I am on this earth. It’s about leading others to follow Jesus. It’s about proclaiming the good news of salvation. It’s about giving people the gift of eternal life. It’s about seeking the lost. It’s about obedience to Jesus. It’s about being a good follower. It's about caring for the needs of others - not just to convert someone - but because you care!

Christians are those who have been sent by God with the gospel to their culture. Every one of us is sent on mission with the Holy Spirit’s power! And we are sent in community with other believers! When you commit to follow Jesus, you are saying, “Count me in! I am here on this earth to partner together with other Christians who are radically devoted to pursuing Christ’s mission of saving the world!” What could be better than that?

______________________________

Synchroblog Participants

Ben Wheatley - Are Things You Are Living For Worth It

Blake Huggins - What Does Missional Living Look Like

Alan Knox - Living in the love of God

Jonathan Brink - Meeting God Where He's Already Working

Bryan Riley - What Does Missional Living Look Like To Me

Jeromy Johnson - What is missional living to me

David Wierzbicki - We are Missioning

Tim Jones - Living Like the Word Says

Nathan Gann - Inevitability?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Delusion

If I think I can believe in Jesus and follow Jesus and love Jesus and obey Jesus without taking steps to align my life and behaviors in such a way that embraces and embodies the redemptive mission and message of Jesus, than I am deluding myself. God help me...

"If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself an take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it." Matthew 16:24-25

"Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men." Mark 1:17

"...Repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations."
Luke 24:47

"Go therefore an make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20

"Go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God." Luke 9:60b
"But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves." James 1:22

Friday, April 11, 2008

How to Prepare for a Coaching Appointment

"The best way to be an effective coach is to prepare in advance."

Here are some of the things I've done in preparation for coaching pastors, church planters and church leaders:

1. Review the notes of your last appointment.

2. Review the GROW technique:
  • Goal - what’s the goal? what are you trying to accomplish?
  • Reality - what’s the reality of the situation? what have you accomplished?
  • Options - what can you do to reach the goal? Brainstorm.
  • Will - what will you do? what are you next steps?
3. Answer the following questions as you prepare for your appointment.
  • Have I prayed for this leader?
  • Have I developed effective coaching questions? Remember: Never answer your own questions!
  • Am I prepared to listen? "He who talks most, listens least."
  • What personal or ministry needs am I aware of?
  • What needs or issues am I avoiding?
  • What ministry skills need to be developed?
  • What resources would be helpful?
  • How will I encourage this leader?
  • How will I strengthen our coaching relationship?
4. Review the following "holistic questions."
  • Feelings - How do you feel about your ministry?
  • Family - How’s your family? What are you doing to show value to them?
  • Faith - How are you and God doing? What does God want to see in you?
  • Focus - What’s important? What’s urgent? What’s next?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Qualities of an Attractive Church Planting Movement

In his book Be Fruitful and Multiply, Bob Logan identifies the following qualities of an attractive church planting movement:
1. Reputation: What is the reputation of your movement? Contemporary? Evangelistic? Growing? What are your distinctives? Theology? Tradition? Ministry?

2. Vision: Do you have an attractive vision for church multiplication? Does your movement have attractive visionary leadership?

3. Compassion for lost people: How do you emphasize outreach, compassion ministry and evangelism?

4. Diversity: Are you prepared to reach the diversity of the harvest and therefore attract a diversity of church planters?

5. Character: What is the quality and character of your leaders, pastors, and people?

6. Coaching: What kinds of ongoing coaching, training, and resources can you provide to the church planting team?

7. Resources: Do you have reasonable financial resources and benefits to attract the planters you need?

8. Success: Do you have a track record of successful ministry and church planting?
These are excellent questions for a multiplying church, denomination, or network to ask. As a missionary with OC International, my focus is on facilitating church planting movements that will transform America. I am available to help in implementing strategies for multiplying churches, as well as assessing, coaching, training, and resourcing church planters.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

New Release: The Tangible Kingdom

My friends Hugh Halter and Matt Smay have a new book entitled The Tangible Kingdom. I haven't read it yet...I'm still waiting for the free copy that Hugh promised to send me. However, I'm excited to read and to share with others ways that they can participate tangibly in the kingdom of God.

Check out this intro video here or below...
The Tangible Kingdom helps open a window into that uneasiness many feel when what we've read in scripture verses does not line up with our experiences with religion or church. Jesus' news about his kingdom was a wild, life-reorienting message. It changed people, cities, and the social fabric. It was nothing like the heart-shriveling religion common in our present-day church experience. Watch as a normal God-searching man finds hope, as he sees a glimpse of the kingdom in a community of friends, around a table, and everywhere he goes. Go to www.thetangiblekingdom.com to order the book and find friends.


If you want to help, share the youtube video with your friends, rate it and favorite it. Thanks!

Matt and Hugh are involved in training missional leaders to incarnationally display the gospel!Here's the focus of MISSIO...
Apprenticing a global network of missional leaders and their communities to transform the world's culture, inform the greater church, and empower a new era of spiritual leaders who are culturally savvy, deep in character, & clear in calling.
They've also started a church in Denver called Adullam - check it out here.
If you'd like to read Hugh's blog...www.hughhalter.com
If you'd like to read Matt's blog...www.mattsmay.com

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Iglesia el Gigante es Jesucristo

It’s been a privilege for me to work with Pastor Walter Herrera, who started six churches in Argentina (five of them in the province of Buenos Aires and one in La Rioja). He trained pastors for each of these churches and now there are more than 1,300 people that are being discipled in these churches.

In 2006, I was able to assist him in getting a Religious Workers Visa so that he could come to the United States to plant a church. Together with his wife, Rosanna, they started Iglesia el Gigante es Jesucristo in Castaic, California. They began worshiping in a home, then they moved their services to Sunday afternoons at Lake Hills Church. Just a few months ago, they were able to move into a leased facility (just around the corner from my first office as pastor of Lake Hills Church).

Pastor Walter's vision is:
To preach the gospel to all living creatures, guiding them towards salvation and maturity as disciples of Christ. To develop in that person a solid spiritual life, both socially and among families, so that he can impact the world around him.

I have a vision to plant churches that will in time grow more with the word and grow more in numbers as well; so that they in turn can reproduce and start new churches as well. I will work by establishing elders and leaders that will be prepared to work in ministry just like the Apostle Paul states in Ephesians 4:11, 12.

To begin this vision I wish to target the Hispanics and their families that live in the Castaic area and even areas around Castaic. I also wish to establish churches wherever there are people who have converted and not wait for them all to come to the temple, instead I would start a new church along with them.
I so appreciate Pastor Walter's commitment and dedication to the task of church planting.
I am well aware that all this will require a lot of time and effort but this is what I have been sent to do with the help and grace of God. I didn’t come here to see what happens; I have come with precise orders, convinced of what God expects from me. I will work my hardest but I know that even then I have the best help I can get from God. I am not here to try anything; I only want to serve in that which God has called me to do.
I was so blessed recently to celebrate the church's second anniversary, and to preach (with a translator). Please pray for them as they seek to reach "a new generation of Hispanics, and in some cases even grandchildren of Hispanic immigrants, who are bilingual." Recognizing that most of the Hispanics that come to this country have a religious background in Catholicism, they are "even more determined to present to them the gospel of forgiveness and freedom in Jesus."

In my role as a missionary to the United States with OC International, I hope to partner with many church planters to start ethnic churches and multi-ethnic churches to reach our nation and the nations among us!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Missional Conversations: Sharing Your Story!

The fact is, everyone experiences discomfort when someone outside our circle of friends tries to influence us about personal, significant matters. We all naturally gravitate toward people we already know and trust. Friends listen to friends. They confide in friends. They let friends influence them.

So if you are going to impact anyone for Christ, the most effective approach will be through friendships with those who need to know Christ. The following questions will help you get started:
  • Who do I already know that needs Jesus?
  • How will they know that I care?
  • What have I gotta share?
1. FOCUS ON YOUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH NON-BELIEVERS

Think about the circle of relationships that you already have. Draw several circles on a piece of paper and identify each circle as a specific group of people with whom you have repeated contact over something other than faith or religion.

Write the name of the specific group in the center of each circle. If you know those neighbors who live adjacent to and directly across from your home, label one of the circles “Neighbors.” You could also consider –
  • your workplace
  • contacts with adults through your children’s activities (school, sports, music, etc.)
  • your hobbies or recreation (not something you do alone; something you already do or could do routinely with people – biking, kayaking, scrapbooking, etc,)
  • rotary or a community organization if you meet together monthly or more
  • your fitness center (if you interact with the same people routinely)
  • playgroups for your kids
  • any activity that gives you routine contact with people who don’t know Christ personally
Challenge: Too many believers spend too much time with Christians. Ask yourself: "What do I need to stop doing so that I can start spending more time with non-believers?"

What is one new thing that you could do to give you routine contact (weekly) with 8-10 new people who don’t know Christ?

Next, write the first names of individuals that you know personally in each circle who are not yet Christians.

2. SHOW YOU CARE!

It has been said: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Think of specific ways that you can demonstrate care to specific individuals listed above. Consider the following ways to demonstrate care:
  • Acts of service – how can you meet a genuine need?
  • Quality time – how could you spend time with someone?
  • Affirmation – how can you encourage someone?
  • Tangible gifts – what could you give someone to show you care?
Who do you know that may be receptive?

What can you do to show that person that you care?

3. SHARE YOUR OWN GRACE STORY!

One of the most powerful tools in leading someone to Christ is your own story of how by God’s grace you came to personally know Jesus. Take a moment to think about how you came to believe in Christ and the changes that have taken place in your life now that you are a Christian. Using these points, write out your own story just the way you would share it with a friend. Make the story clear enough that the person hearing it would know how to surrender their life to Christ.
  • Before I surrendered my life to Christ, I lived and thought this way…
  • How I came to believe in Jesus… (be specific)
  • After I became a Christian, these positive changes took place…
As you reflect on your “grace story” – ask God to give you an opportunity to share it with at least one person this week. Pray for two or three whom you would particularly like to tell about Jesus Christ in your neighborhood, at work, or at school.

Can you think of a verse that helped you to surrender your life to Christ? When you share your “grace story” – tell others what that verse means to you.

“I am convinced that the world is more eager to hear our message than we are to deliver it. Never in my ministry have I seen such responsiveness and receptivity to the Gospel as in recent days.”
- Dr. Howard Hendricks

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Share Your Grace Story!

One of the most powerful tools in leading someone to Christ is your own story of how by God’s grace you came to personally know Jesus. Paul shared his story when he appeared before King Agrippa. Read Acts 26:1-29, then answer the following questions:

How did Paul begin his story? (verses 2-3)

What characterizes his background? (verses 4-5, 9-11)
(Note: blaspheme means to speak evil or contemptuously of God or sacred things.)

What reversed the direction of Paul’s life? (verses 12-15)

How did Paul explain the gospel? (verse 23)

What did Paul ask Agrippa? Why is this question important? (verse 27)

As was often his style, Paul began sharing the gospel by explaining how he had personally come into a relationship with Christ. Then he shifted into sharing the message (verses 19-23). God doesn’t need you to argue his case, but simply to tell others what He has done for you – how your life has been changed.

Every believer has a grace story. Some may be more dramatic than others. Such was the case with Paul, formerly the notorious Saul of Tarsus, who was an aggressive persecutor of Christians. Regardless of how incredible your story may seem, God can use your story of coming to believe to draw others to believe in Jesus.

In sharing your “grace story”:
  • Make it personal – don’t preach. Tell what Christ has done for you. Use “I,” “me,” and “my” – not “you.”
  • Make it short. Three or four minutes should be enough time to cover the essential facts.
  • Keep Christ central. Always highlight what He has done for you.
  • Use the Word of God. A meaningful verse from the Bible that convicted you personally will add power to your story. Remember the Word of God has a keen cutting edge.
Sharing your personal story will help you find common ground with a non-believer. You can tell him or her of your former life and attitude before coming to Christ, and then explain the changes that came afterward. God often uses personal stories to lead people to faith. In Paul’s story of how he surrendered his life to Christ, he included the following:
  • What life was like before he believed
  • How he came to believe
  • How Christ changed his life
Take a moment to think about how you came to believe in Christ and the changes that have taken place in your life now that you are a Christian. Using these points, write out your own story just the way you would share it with a friend. Make the story clear enough that the person hearing it would know how to surrender their life to Christ.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Missional Conversations: Asking Questions

Asking questions is a great way to redirect conversations toward spiritual things. Asking questions can directly introduce God, Jesus, faith or the gospel into your conversation. Instead of waiting for opportunities, by asking an appropriate question, you creates them. The way it works is simple. You straightforwardly raise a spiritual topic and then see if the person is interested in talking about it. While you don’t force anyone to discuss matters of faith, you do open wide the doorway to doing so.

Here are a few questions and conversation starters:
  • “If you’d ever like to know the difference between religion and Christianity, let me know. I’d be happy to talk to you about it.”
  • “I’m curious, do you ever think about spiritual matters?”
  • Genuinely ask: “How’s it going today? How’s it really going?
  • “Who, in your opinion, was Jesus Christ?”
  • “What’s your spiritual background? Were you taught a particular religious perspective as you grew up?”
  • “Do you ever wonder what happens to us when we die?”
  • “What do you think a real Christian is?”
  • “Where are you heading in your spiritual journey?”
It’s amazing how such simple questions can begin a process that ultimately revolutionizes the life of the other person. Don’t let the simplicity of these questions cause you to discount their usefulness. They can literally open doorways into eternity.

(adapted from Disciplemaking 101)

Friday, April 04, 2008

Missional Conversations

Every person has a story – a unique story of their life history, including their spiritual journey. To understand their journey, you need to know where they have been, where they are and where they are going. By understanding their story, you can be prepared to share your story in a way that they can relate to – and ultimately tell God’s story of grace and forgiveness.

Asking good questions – and really listening to their answers can build a bridge to sharing about your faith. You can take almost any element of a conversation and utilize it to turn the conversation toward spiritual matters. (Note: That's what Jesus did with the woman at the well in John 4). There’s almost no limit to the ways this can be done. With a little planning and practice, almost anyone can master this.

Here are a few illustrations:

Business – Those in the marketplace commonly ask each other, “How’s your year going?” Rather than give a standard reply, why not answer with something like this: “Well, financially, okay; family-wise, pretty well; and spiritually, things are great. Which one do you want to talk about?”

Relocations – When someone moves into a new home, it’s natural to discuss whether they’ve found good places to shop, dine out, or get their car repaired. Why not add a query concerning whether they’ve found a good church? Even if they tell you that they weren’t looking, it’s a natural lead-in to talking about faith-related topics.

Hobbies and Spare Time – When you talk to someone about your hobbies and spare time, it’s easy to include some ministry-related activity that you enjoy. For example, if you work with the sound system at your church, you could say, “Well, on the weekends I like mountain biking and working with sound equipment.” The automatic response of many people will be to ask for details. Similar approaches could be used in almost any area.

Music – If you listen to the lyrics of songs, you’ll discover many songs raise spiritual issues, even if it might have been written or performed by a non-believer. Talking about the lyrics can lead into talking about the answers you’ve found to the important questions they raise.

Sports – There are incredible opportunities to talk about many well-known athletes that are Christians. If you follow sports, it’s pretty easy to refer to a recent game or event and tell friends about a particular athlete on the team who’s a believer. This will often expand into a wider discussion about what that means.

Shared Struggles – When you find you have areas of difficulty in common with someone, it’s the most natural thing in the world to tell that person how you’ve been helped by wisdom from the Bible, caring Christian friends, or prayer. This can be effective whether it’s a major crisis or relatively minor problem. It could be a lack of communication in your marriage, questions about disciplining your children, or a need to manage food, time or finances.

This list could go on and on. Just take the topics that you frequently talk with people about and, like the examples above, figure out creative ways to ease into conversations about your faith and your grace story.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

"I've Told All My Pastors to Leave"

This week I listened to a Catalyst Podcast (8/29/07) that included an interview with Francis Chan. Francis is pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, California. He is also the president of Eternity Bible College and spends much of his time speaking to students around the country.

As I was driving my car and listening - I heard him say, "I've told all my pastors to leave--go start your own thing." I thought, "Wow! That's amazing. Here's a guy that is committed to sending out his staff to extend the kingdom of God."

He continued, "When I release people, they are going to do so much more than under my guidance." What an empowering statement. Francis realizes that releasing leaders will produce a greater fruitfulness. His perspective is quite a contrast to the attitude of many pastors who want to hold on to both their leaders and people instead of sending them out.

The church is God's sent people. We should continually be releasing leaders into the harvest!

As he talked about developing young leaders, Francis also observed, "I read the Bible and look at the church and it just doesn't match up at all. And this is the first generation that is saying, 'I refuse to live that way.'" When you are committed to sending out your pastors, you have to be committed to raising up a new generation of leaders who will take the Bible seriously and seek to live out their faith.

Where do new pastors and new leaders come from? Many churches recruit and attract leaders from other churches. Jesus' strategy was to raise leaders from the harvest to reach the harvest.

Imagine what would happen if more pastors were committed to raising up leaders and told their pastors to leave!

(Why not check out Francis Chan's new book: Crazy Love or his video blog)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Power of Coaching

Coaching is incredibly powerful! Imagine how you would be impacted by someone who listened to you, helped you to listen to God, and then asked good questions which enabled you to focus on doing what God wanted you to do.

I love coaching pastors and church planters! I feel that God has uniquely called and gifted me to come alongside and help them discover what God wants them to do. (I presented much of the following at an Acts 29 regional gathering here in Southern California recently.)

What is Coaching?

Here are some good definitions:
“Coaching is an incarnational relationship between one leader and another intended to empower their lives and ministry.” -- Steve Ogne and Tim Roehl
“Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.” -- Timothy Galloway
“Coaching is the process of coming alongside a person or team to help them discover God’s agenda for their life and ministry, and then cooperating with the Holy Spirit to see that agenda become a reality.” -- Bob Logan
“Coaching is the purposeful ministry of facilitating meaningful change in the life of a leader.” -- Tom Clegg
A Biblical View of Coaching

Coaching is part of the equipping responsibility described in Eph 4:11-12. Leaders in the church are to “equip the saints for works of service.” The role of equipping is not just teaching – although that’s an important part of it. It also includes training and coaching.

Coaching is essential to empowering others to accomplish God’s purposes. It involves coming alongside to help others to do their part in God’s redemptive mission.

Paul writes to the believers in Thessalonica - “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.” 1 Thes. 2:11-12

Good coaches encourage, comfort and urge you to fulfill your God-given calling!

Practically speaking, what does this look like? (from Dennis Easter)

1. Encourage – Yes You Can! You can do this! – Celebrating what God’s doing through you.

2. Comfort – Yes You Will! …get through this! – Gaining perspective
We’re not without hope, God is faithful, God didn’t bring you hear to abandon you.

3. Urge – Yes You Must! Keep going! Finish well! Don’t give up!

Coaches come alongside to help – like Barnabas came alongside Paul and John Mark. By encouraging and challenging others, Barnabus empowered them for ministry. He may not have been in the starring role, but without him many others would not have been able to accomplish the great things for God that they did.

The basics of coaching aren’t difficult and anyone can learn them. What does a Barnabus do? He helps people answer three questions: Where am I? Where do I want to go? How will I get there?

The goal of coaching is to help someone succeed. So – what is success? It’s finding out what God wants you to do and doing it. Given that definition, success will necessarily look different on different people.

Each person needs to discover for themselves what God wants them to do. Coaches aid that process, but they don’t direct it. Coaching is not about telling others what to do; it’s about helping them discover it for themselves.

The Value of Coaching

Bog Logan shares these benefits:
  • Provides encouragement for the journey
  • Cultivates wisdom and strategic insights
  • Discovers breakthrough opportunities
  • Maintains focus on the truly important
  • Transforms vision into reality
Coaching bridges the gap between Vision in a church planters mind – and Reality.

Coaching provides an accurate picture of where they are at – and helping them move forward to where they need to be – with support in the journey.
  • Coaching is not giving advice – people already know that they need to work on. It’s about support. They want to know they don’t have to navigate the difficulties of life on their own.
  • Coaching is not Counseling – which focuses on healing the past and therapy
  • Coaching is not Consulting – which focuses on strategic solutions provided by an expert (often prophetic in nature)
  • Coaching is not Mentoring – which involves someone going before and pouring into your life.
  • Coaching is coming alongside and drawing out.

In my church planting experience, I found that too often I looked to experts to tell me what I needed to do in the church.

Coaches help leaders to listen to God and what He wants done.

Good coaches don’t give instructions (Do This!). They ask powerful questions that help a leader to clarify what God is wanting them to do. If you tell someone what to do – you get a short-term win, but they may not “own” it.

God has called us to collaborative partnerships with other believers for accomplishing what He wants us to do. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

God intended that believers join one another in walking down the path of growth. By walking together, we can gain a clearer sense of direction and purpose, seeing pitfalls ahead of time and discovering alternate routes when necessary. We can encourage one another when we lost sight of our destination. We don’t have to go it alone.

The Coaching Process (from Coaching 101 by Bob Logan and Sherilyn Carlton)

Every journey requires a good map. Coaching is not different. Coaches need an easy framework that helps them understand what needs to be accomplished in the coaching process.

The coaching process consists of five basic phases. Coaching relationships need to move through each phase and accomplish the necessary outcomes to be optimally effective.
  • Relate – Establish coaching relationship and agenda
  • Reflect – Discover and explore key issues
  • Refocus – Determine priorities and action steps
  • Resource – Provide support and encouragement
  • Review – Evaluate, celebrate, and revise plans

I've been coaching pastors and church planters for many years. However, my coaching skills have improved exponentially after participating in CoachNet's Coaching Certification Process and utilizing their online coaching tool. (check out: CoachNet)

Reflection Questions

  1. Who in your life has been a Barnabus, a coach, to you? What did he or she do?
  2. Who is currently coaching you? If you don't have a coach, who could coach you?
  3. To whom could you be a Barnabus? Who in your life could you coach?
Pray and ask God to make clear to you how you can most effectively encourage, comfort and urge someone to fulfill God’s calling on their life.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Church Planter Assessments

Dr. Charles Ridley, an occupational psychologist, upon interviewing 100 church planters, determined that thirteen key qualities were needed for an individual to be an effective church planter. These were qualities that needed to be clearly identified by past performance in the candidate. The principle is, “Past performance is an effective indicator of immediate future action.” The church planting candidate who demonstrates a high level of effective past experience in the areas represented by these thirteen qualities can anticipate a high level of effectiveness as a church planter. If the church planting candidate has not demonstrated the effective application of these qualities in past experiences, effectiveness in the immediate church planting project cannot be anticipated. PAST PERFORMANCE of the candidate is the KEY, NOT the verbalized “DESIRE” of the candidate.

It is important to note that these qualities are specifically focused on the role of the lead church planter. A person in ministry can rate lower in these areas and still be effective in another area of ministry. The desire is to match the qualities needed to accomplish a ministry task with the demonstrated abilities of an individual desiring to serve the Lord in ministry. In the years since this assessment by interview process has been put into action, an effective church planting rate of 85% has been established.

I was assessed by Dr. Ridley in 1989 as I was finishing my last year in seminary. I found the assessment to be an incredible helpful tool as I prepared to start a church. When he recommended me as a church planter, I was so excited. His affirmation was not only a blessing to me, but useful to my denominational leaders who required an assessment for all church planters. If I had not passed the assessment, they would not have sponsored the church plant.

That's one of the benefits of church planter assessments. The interview focuses entirely on past behavior. By examining your past behavior in depth, the report has greater predictability.

Assessments are essentially about biblical stewardship. By investing initial time and money for an assessment of a potential church planter, it reduces the risk that he will be effective in starting a new church.

About ten years ago, I was trained as an assessor and have enjoyed assessing dozens of church planters. Over the past several years, my wife and I have joined forces to provide assessments for individuals from a variety of churches and denominations. There are many good organizations that provide church planter assessments. If you are a church planter wanting to be assessed, or a denominational leader or pastor needing to assess a church planter, please contact us.

For more information or to schedule an assessment, click here.
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