The Art of Missional Conversations

PrintI love having conversations because they allow me to get know people, hear their stories, and learn from them.

Conversation can also be a missional context. I remember many talks with friends about God and Jesus as I was finding my own way back to God. Those conversations were a crucial component of my spiritual journey.

A good conversation can reveal much about Jesus.

But not everyone is comfortable in a conversation. And one of the reasons they are uncomfortable is because they admit to not knowing what do say.

What if we could help inspire and equip people to have intentional conversations with the people in their lives.

At Restore we’re always talking about practical ways to help people be on mission. When we realized that sometimes people struggle in knowing what to say in such a conversation, we got to work.

We created a list of questions people can during a missional conversation. We printed them on cards and have been handing them out to everyone. Our goal in creating what we call the ‘Missional Conversation Card’ was to inspire people to reach out to the people around them and get to know them.

We believe that these questions can help people get to know each other and that in turn builds relationships and that’s missional. Here’s our list of questions:

Write the person’s name here: _____________

  1. What is your favorite drink?
  2. Where did you go to high school?
  3. How did you end up in this city? What keeps you here?
  4. What’s your favorite childhood memory?
  5. Who was your first crush?
  6. How did you meet your spouse, significant other?
  7. What is your greatest fear?
  8. What role, if any, has the church played in your life?
  9. What are some of the hurts you’ve experienced?
  10. Who is Jesus to you?

Now, we don’t intend for people to pull out their missional conversation card at their next dinner party. (That would be awkward anyway.) But the card is both a reminder and a tool to help people see themselves as sent.

So far, people tell me it’s working. People at Restore have told me it’s helped them get to know the people around them.

While it’s easy to tell people to be on mission, sometimes we simply have to help them understand what it looks like.

How are you equipping people to have missional conversations? Please leave a comment.

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Is Church Planting Good for Your Family? (Another Look)

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My boys with Bailie in her Birthday tiara and tutu!

If you are church planting you are doing it with your family. You don’t plant a church alone. Your family does it with you every step of the way.

When I said yes to church planting my family did as well. Indeed, had my family not said yes to planting—and keep saying yes—this journey would have ended some time ago.

Our families plant churches with us. So is it good for them?

I’ve wrestled with this question before. Our daughter Bailie turned 18 this week and so I am asking it again.

Bailie graduates in May and heads off to university in August. I am so proud of her. She is an extraordinary young woman with an amazing mind and heart. Her personality is exactly like mine so sometimes sparks fly! She asks lots of questions and reads a ton of books to understand the world. She has an incredible capacity for serving/helping people consistently inspires me.

I could go on about how proud I am of Bailie and how much I love her.

Bailie will be the first of our children to face the consequences of our decision to church plant. As she faces the realities of being an adult, I am wondering how church planting will affect her. I wonder if there will be a time in her life when she will respond negatively or resent what we have done and the sacrifices we’ve made?

Bailie was in junior high school when we moved from Chicago to Kansas City. As our oldest child, I worried about her most. Would she make the transition well? Would the separation from family and friends be too much for her? She moved into a new house in a new neighborhood and started a new school and helped us start something new. Any one of these could have caused her to go off the rails.

And Bailie watched me struggle as a church planter. As I’ve adjusted to ministry I’ve made mistakes about how I spend my time. There have been seasons when I have chosen church planting over my family. And my family has paid the price. Bailie has endured the brunt of this. I regret some of those decisions now and there is some regret that I didn’t spend more time with her.

Despite challenges like these, church planting has helped Bailie grow in many areas…

Church planting has provided Bailie strong community. All of my kids are growing up in community: small groups; nights out with other families and their kids; hanging out with neighbors; a staff team that is more like a family. This has provided Bailie ample opportunity to make friends with lots of people, including adults. Several adult woman have significant influence on her and this has been huge.

Church planting has provided Bailie a platform to grow as a leader. Bailie has a passion for middle-school girls and serves them on Sunday and throughout the week. She’s also one of the presidents of YoungLife in our area. She has leaned into every one of her leadership responsibilities and is a stronger and more confident young woman as a result.

Church planting has introduced Bailie to Haiti. Through some work Restore has done, Bailie has had the privilege of visiting Haiti twice. And it’s wrecked her in the best way. She is—well—obsessed with Haiti and it’s people. She prays for Haiti and her Haitian friends. She is setting her sites on serving Haiti with her life in a meaningful way. (She is taking French towards that end.) It’s fun to watch her dream about her future. And Haiti has provided her a means of comparison to our culture’s insistence on materialism. She is wary of our culture of consumerism as a result. (This has saved me a couple of bucks along the way!)

Finally, church planting has helped Bailie understand that risking everything for Jesus is both necessary…and worth it. She’s learned to do hard things. She’s has watched Restore start from a small group of people grow to a church of three locations and has helped hundreds of people find their way back to God.

So is church planting good for your family? For my family the answer is yes—at least for now.

But the jury is still out. Now that Bailie is 18 she will make decisions about how she will live her life. And this will be the true litmus test. I am grateful that God has given us the opportunity to help plant churches with my family. We’ve experienced both highs and lows together. In the end I believe it’s provided Bailie a glimpse of the Kingdom of God that will influence how she lives out the remainder of her days and beyond.

Happy Birthday sweet Bailie! I love you to infinity and beyond.

So is church planting good for your family? Why or why not? I would love to get some of your feedback. If you dig the content you find her please click this link and subscribe.

My 6 Month Check-In (Thank You!)

6monthsIt’s been 6 months since I started Mission Glue and I wanted to use this anniversary to check in with you.

I want to thank you for reading. Really–I am grateful. The fact that anyone reads my writing about Jesus and Kingdom is evidence of God’s grace in my life. I didn’t grow up as a believer. I didn’t go to church. Then it all changed when I found my way back to God. And now here I am—helping to plant churches and following hard after Jesus. Wow!

I had kicked around the idea of starting Mission Glue for several years. But something always seemed to hold me back or stop me…

  • I was scared of what people would say about my writing. I have always loved to write. Writing has helped me cope with many of the ups and downs of my life. And while I always thought it would be cool to write something that people actually read, I was too afraid to share what I wrote. I still don’t consider myself a good writer. I am just a knuckle-head that refuses to quit.
  • I was unwilling to put in the extra work it would require. The fact is that I’ve started Mission Glue at one of the busiest times in my life. I have no extra time to keep this blog.
  • I was too busy with other stuff. I kept getting distracted from this project. I worked on lots of other stuff that seemed more important.

So I kept putting off this blog. Then my brother Michael died.

Michael’s death inspired me to start reflecting on lots of areas of my life. And writing was one of them. I knew that there was stuff we were learning at Restore about planting churches that we needed to share. I also realized that I needed to start writing again for my own reasons. It was time to get over my fears about my writing and whether I had anything to offer other planters.

So one day I just started writing. I set myself a goal of 3 posts a week. While I have hundreds of ideas for posts, I still don’t have as much time to write as I’d like. So I get up early and/or stay up late to write them. I haven’t missed my 3 post goal yet and see no reason why I can’t keep it up.  Because you inspire me to keep at it.

Those of you planting a church or missional community or even thinking about it are my heroes. I know what it feels like to be in the blood and mud of church planting. I want you to know I got your back. I hope that what you find here inspires , encourages and helps you get out there and do something for the Kingdom.

While most of the stuff here is intended for church planters, friends and family have told me they’re reading it. I am grateful for that! Much of what we do in church planting is transferable to other areas of course. And all of us following Jesus are planting the gospel in our spheres of influence every day. I am glad Mission Glue has some value to you.

Sometimes keeping a blog feels like building a billboard in a desert: You don’t know who is seeing it. All writers want people to read what we write. So I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t care if anyone read my blog. I do.  My dream is that Mission Glue becomes a place for collaboration, conversation and sharing for people planting gospel communities. So will you take a moment help me make this blog more effective?

Leave a comment below with…

  • Topics you’d like me to write about that could help you or people you know in your mission?
  • How I can make it easier to share this content with people in your sphere of influence?
  • Or simply tell me that you are out there!

Oh one more thing. And this part is about you…
One thing this blog has taught me is that we need to get on with it. I want to challenge you to get after what you’re being called to do. I know you’re wrestling with it. Whatever it is, carve some space in your life to make it happen. We need you contributions to the cause. Don’t put it off any longer.

  • Maybe it’s a blog or business?
  • Maybe it’s a new ministry?
  • Maybe it’s saying yes to church planting?
  • Maybe it’s starting a non-profit?
  • Maybe its adopting a child?
  • Whatever it is, don’t wait…Start today.

Thanks for inspiring me. And thanks for reading!

Peace and grace.

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10 Questions to Help Identify Your Who

You have a who out there.

I believe you are uniquely called to invest in that who this season. That’s right. You.

So who is it? who

  • Who are you investing in?
  • Who are you praying for?
  • Who are you encouraging?
  • Who are you teaching?
  • Who you helping?
  • Who are you serving?
  • Who are you training?
  • Who are you mentoring?
  • Who are you suffering for?
  • Who are you sacrificing for?

After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized (John 3:22).

Jesus invested himself in his followers. If we’re following Him then we must invest ourselves in the people around us. We can’t delegate this to our teams or other people. It’s got to be 1 on 1/face to face/Life on life.

I want to encourage keep investing in people. You must never become distracted or overwhelmed by the details of church planting (or anything else for the at matter) that you stop investing in people. The world will fight you. It will tell you that you’re too busy. It will tell you that they aren’t the right people. It will tell you not to bother that you won’t receive anything in return. That’ a lie.

In the Kingdom we do things differently. We give ourselves away to each other.

So who is it? Leave their name in the comment section. Go ahead, it just might help you stay accountable to your who.

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Interview with Eric Metcalf, Church Planter — Chicago, Illinois (Part 2)

This is the second part of my interview with Eric. Read Part 1 here. Metcalf

I started Mission Glue for one reason: to help church planters plant healthy reproducing churches. One way to do that is to hear from practitioners. I want to hear from church planters who are actually planting churches. You may not have heard of them but they have learned a ton and can teach us much.

I recently had the privilege of talking to Eric Metcalf, Lead Planter of Community Lincoln Park / Old Town. Eric also provides leadership to NewThing’s Leadership Residency Program – a program designed to apprentice church planters to start new churches.

I first met Eric while I was finding my way back to God at the Yellow Box Campus of Community Christian Church in Naperville. At that time he was a small group director. Eric affirmed my own journey and in several conversations helped me understand the reproducing culture of Community. What I noticed about Eric was this passion for connecting people to the mission of Jesus. He also like to have fun–lots of fun. When I heard that he was planting a church I knew it was going to be something special. Before embarking on this church planting journey, Eric led New Thing and was Director of Awesome. (Whatever that means.)

Eric is the lead planter but will be planting with a team. While he will plant a Community location, it will be more than just a plug ‘n’ play multisite campus. Eric told me to think of it more like a church plant that is part of a larger aligned network focused on helping people find their way back to God. And he’s hoping something special emerges, more a campus, church plant, missional community hybrid. Eric attended church planter assessment and high recommends anyone planting a church do the same. I am grateful Eric is willing to share his journey and insights with us. And I am humbled by the opportunity to work with him. I know we will all be inspired and encouraged to hear his story.

What have you learned about fund-raising that might help the rest of us? 

People Raising (written by Bill Dillon) and Julie Bullock (used to work for now for Wheaton College) have been HUGELY beneficial in this area.  Julie and Bill both don’t have a scarcity mindset…they believe people have capacity and want to support the vision God has given you.  People Raising is a simple book that gives you very practical tools on how to follow-up with people.  Julie has taught me that following up in a relationally, consistent way is a potent way to insure someone will respond.  Often times in fundraising we try to take the short cut by asking for partnership too early or not often enough.  We want to get to yes immediately, but we need to take our time with the ask.  And if we get a “no”…we can’t allow ourselves to back down or not follow up…as sometimes that “no” actually means “not yet.”  Your commitment to your vision will be challenged time and time again in fundraising – which is why fundraising is so important – it refines you and it will refine your team as they fundraise.

How is your family part of your church planting adventure?

They are all in.  My wife is leading a small group for young college/career girls, leading with another leader a women’s group, worship leading, and making incredible meals for neighbors as they come into our home and when we have events.  My kids and I have been sitting on their bedroom floor for the past 2 years asking God to lead us on mission.  A couple of nights ago, Joey (our oldest) was sharing with me a conversation he was having with the librarian about why we moved to the city – to start a church…and proceeded to have a dialogue with her about it – awesome!

What is/was the great challenge you faced planting your church and how did you overcome it?

Fundraising.  It is hard work.  I have yet to overcome this fully as we are still doing it.  But having visionary, Jesus-loving leaders around you helps you celebrate the wins and push through the challenges.

Who inspires you and why?

Jon Ferguson. He started Community with his brother Dave and yet he and his wife Lisa (w/ their 2 kids) did just take a salary and put their feet on the desk at growing mega-church.  Instead they jumped in with the mission and moved to Chicago – raising substantial amounts of money – and has gone after the mission in a big way ever since.

How are you caring for yourself while planting?

Not very well 😉  Actually I have some great friends who challenge me, prayer for me and love me.  I’m high energy guy with lots of big goals – so I need accountability here for sure.  I have taken up running, I like to read, playing a great video game or 2 and I enjoy watching movies with friends.

Do you have a plan for planting more churches/campuses etc. What is it?

Yes.  We are “planting pregnant”.  I have 2 families who are jumping in with us as Leadership Residents to launch a new church in Bucktown | Wicker Park (downtown Chicago) on Oct 2014.

If you could ask a church planter you don’t know one question, what would it be?

Why are you planting a church when you could take a salary somewhere?

Just for fun–what’s your favorite band and why?

Coldplay is my favorite “established” band – best concert I have ever seen.  Favorite indy band is a tie between Of Monsters & Men and Imagine Dragons.

Any other secrets about church planting you can share with us?

Stay connected.  One of the number one reasons (as researched by Ed Stetzer) church planters “fail” is that they don’t have peer-to-peer relationships.  Other pastors, other church planters, other churches caring for you through 1:1 meetings, coaching calls, reading pastors books will make you 100x better and last the long haul.  Which is why I love NewThing  and Community  – they are networks of pastors who are on mission with me.

You can follow the Metcalf’s church planting journey here.

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