Easter Prayer of St. Gregory

lightIt is only right,
with all the powers of our heart and mind,
to praise You Father
and Your Only-begotten Son,
Our Lord Jesus Christ:

Dear Father, by Your wondrous
condescension of loving-kindness toward us,
Your servants, You gave up Your Son.

Dear Jesus You paid the debt of Adam
for us to the Eternal Father by
Your Blood poured
fourth in loving-kindness.

You cleared away the darkness of sin
By Your magnificent and radiant Resurrection.
You broke the bonds of death
and rose from the grave as a Conqueror.

You reconciled heaven and earth.
Our life had no hope of eternal happiness
before You redeemed us.

Your Resurrection has washed away our sins,
restored our innocence and brought us joy.
How inestimable is the tenderness
of Your love!

Amen.

Who is Your Most Important Partner in Ministry?

Who would you say is your most important ministry partner?

  • Your sending organization?
  • Your coach?
  • The church that helped launch you?
  • Your lead team?
  • Someone on your staff?

Let’s face it, identifying your most important ministry partner is critical. So ask yourself…

  1. Who supports you no matter what?
  2. Who sees you’re vision and is all-in with you?
  3. Who deals with your frustrations?
  4. Who believes in you even when others don’t?
  5. Who helps you find your way when you’re lost?
  6. Who tells you’re great even when you’re not?
  7. Who gives you the most insight to you?
  8. Who prays for you more than anyone else?
  9. Who is your chief encourager?
  10. Who is your biggest fan?

Maybe you know where I am going with this…

I suspect your spouse is your most important partner. And this is so easy to forget.

For me, the answer to all of these questions is my wife, Nancy. See, Nancy and I met when we were teenagers. We’ve been together ever since and during that time we’ve experienced the highs and lows of life. We have three great kids and we’ve managed to build a life for ourselves. Me and Nancy

We were unbelievers together and we have become believers together. Now Jesus is the center of our world.

Nancy has played a significant role in everything I’ve done on this church planting journey. She’s supported me and loved me and tolerated me and believed in me. She nurtures our family so that we can be on mission. And that has made everything else possible.

No doubt about it, my marriage is the center of my ministry. All of my other work on behalf of the Kingdom flows out of this.

See, church planting is a family affair. And that means you are automatically partners in ministry with your spouse. The stronger the partnership, the greater your impact.

So today, go ahead and tell your spouse thank you. Thank them for loving you, for supporting you and believing in you. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to thank God for your greatest partner in ministry.

PS: Today is her birthday. Click here to wish her a happy birthday.

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Do You Opt for Convenience Over Passion?

Maybe we are making things too convenient for people in our church plant? Maybe by doing this we are missing out on the opportunity to help them grow in their passion for Kingdom things?

Convenience: something (as an appliance, device, or service) conducive to comfort or ease.

There is nothing wrong with convenience. In fact, at Restore, we try to make finding your way back to God as easy as possible.

  • We have multiple service times.
  • We keep the experience to an hour (give or take 10 minutes).
  • We make things clear and simple.
  • We make it easy to get connected in a small group.
  • We make it easy for people to serve in ministry.

All these things are good. They’re practical and I believe they help people find and follow Jesus.

Despite all the effort to make things convenient, many of us planting churches struggle to get people involved or connect them or keep them engaged with our church plant. They miss Sunday mornings; they don’t get connected in community; they don’t grow in their generosity or they choose not to serve others.

People give all sorts of reasons why they can’t participate in these things. Good reasons. Kids soccer games. Family in from out of town or other plans.

But I’ve been wrestling with this because of two experiences I recently had…

The first happened at our Park Hill Campus that meets in a local high school. I arrived early (6:45AM) for set-up with our Roadie team and found the parking lot jammed. Surprised, I investigated and soon learned there was a regional club wrestling tournament in one of the gyms. I talked to some of the parents and learned that people had driven hundreds of miles for their boys to be able to wrestle in this tournament. They arrived the Saturday before and depending on how their son wrestled, would stay all day Sunday and then drive home. kidswrestle

The second occurred when “The Hobbit” came out. My daughter surprised me with tickets to the midnight opening at our local theater. I must admit the idea of a midnight showing in the middle of the week didn’t appeal to me at all. While I love Tolkien, I do have my limits. But I went because, well I love my daughter.

I knew we were in for an experience when we arrived at the movie theater two hours before the start of the film and couldn’t find parking. Once inside the Cineplex we encountered a festive atmosphere of people from all walks of life eager and excited to see the film. People were dressed in costumes and singing songs and laughing. It was a ton of fun. I didn’t care for the film that much but I did enjoy the time with my daughter. But it was clear, these people were passionate about this film and made significant sacrifices to see it first. hobitfans

People make significant sacrifices for things they’re passionate about.

Passion: a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept. An intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction.

Here’s the truth: People will drop everything for what their passionate about and make a priority to experience it. (Like movies and sports for example.) People will sacrifice for things they are passionate about.

And yet, planters will tell me they struggle in this area.

Maybe we are choosing convenience over passion? Maybe we should figure out better ways to help people grow in their passion for Kingdom things rather than always trying to make it more convenient for them? Maybe we need to help figure out what it means to create more passionate followers of Jesus?

It’s all a little ironic given that the word ‘passion’ entered the English language in the context of the suffering of Christ. It’s a Latin word that means ‘to suffer.’ The word has been used for centuries to describe the time between the Last Supper and his death. Read about it here.

When people are passionate about something they will make it a priority. They will show up early and stay late. They will do crazy things to experience it.

Wouldn’t it be cool if people showed the same passion for Kingdom things? Many do. But most don’t. We need to remedy this.

Jesus said following him would be challenging. What I hear him saying is that you’re going to need to be passionate about following me. Maybe we just need to lean into that reality.

So keep making it convenient for people to participate in your plant. But never choose convenience over helping people grow in their passion for Kingdom.

Are you choosing convenience over passion? Do you agree with me? What have I missed? I’d love to hear from you!

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15 Reminders About Message Delivery

Look, I am a novice communicator on my best day. But I am always trying to grow. My goal when I communicate is to be more effective then I was the time before. paper-notes

If you’re planting a church you will be speaking to people: Sunday morning gatherings, launch team meetings, leadership development circles etc. I am assuming you want to be effective and keep growing as a communicator. If you don’t then maybe you should read this.

One way to grow as a communicator is to focus on your delivery.

By the time I get to Sunday morning I have the content nailed. It’s all about the delivery. When I speak I bring my manuscript with me in a 1/2″ 3-ring binder and I write some ‘reminders’ on post-it notes and stick them on the pages about the delivery.

Here are some recent reminders to myself:

  1. Smile and have fun!
  2. Be genuine and authentic.
  3. Talk to people. Don’t present to them.
  4. Slow down! Speak in a natural rhythm.
  5. Get away from your notes–but not too far.
  6. Be passionate and sincere.
  7. Stick with your ‘voice’ and don’t imitate others.
  8. No need to be nervous. God has asked you to this.
  9. Don’t cry. (It just makes everyone uncomfortable.)
  10. Don’t throw up. (Seriously, a few months back I had just got over the flu!)
  11. Make Jesus famous. Speak honestly about his influence on your life.
  12. Make eye contact with people. (You know they’re out there.)
  13. Keep your phrases short and simple. (Don’t grunt or clip words.)
  14. Avoid annoying hand-gestures. (No T-Rex arms or clasped fingers.)
  15. Breathe…

Delivery is critical if we’re going to communicate well. If your content is great and your delivery blows you won’t be as effective.

What about you? What have you learned about message delivery that has been most helpful? How are you continuing to grow as a communicator?

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What Should A Church Planter Do Launch Weekend?

I’m stoked. Our Restore Brookside Campus launches this Sunday, March 24th, at Border Star Elementary. I am excited for my friend Josh, his wife Sara and the staff and leaders of Brookside. Will you do me a favor right now and take a moment to pray for our launch. Thanks! BrooksideLaunch

I am trusting that we’ve followed God to Brookside and joined Him his mission there. It’s all on Him now.

Our campus pastor, Josh Jackaway, and his team have done a great job preparing for a strong launch. They’ve started small groups, served the community, reproduced leaders, met as a launch team, and invited people to join us. It’s been a ton of fun.

Part of my role at Restore is Mission Strategist. (One of the many titles I’ve given myself by the way.) In this role, I help our campus pastors with the strategy and tactics of launch.

So Josh and I have met once a week for the past six months dealing with the details, creating and executing plans, and hitting milestones. I’ve coached him through some milestones, and helped him develop some of the tactics to launch strong. It’s been a great experience and fairly easy because Josh is smart, teachable and a quick learner.

I’ll be honest. I am kind of melancholy. I really enjoy the pre-launch phase. And I will really miss my meetings with Josh.

As I prepared for our final pre-launch meeting, I really want to give Josh something that would help him finish this season well. I started wondering: What should a church planter do the weekend of launch? Josh

After writing down a few things I realized there was only one last thing that needed to be done.

During our meeting we sorted through some last details and then we both sort of realized we were done. So I asked Josh, “what are you going to do this weekend?”

“What do you mean? I am going to finish everything and start a church.”

“Don’t forget to celebrate,” I said.

Josh agreed.

I mean church planting is tough. Most planters I have talked to have confessed planting a church as been the most challenging thing they’ve ever done. But if you’re not taking time to enjoy it then what’s the point.

It only seemed right to remind Josh to enjoy the experience. Because church planting is also fun. Lots of fun.

Launch weekend can be overwhelming…

  • You have the pressure to launch well.
  • You have last-minute details to see to.
  • You might have family and friends in town!
  • etc.

And it’s so easy to miss it all.

During launch weekend you have a couple of options. You could freak-out about all of the things that haven’t gone right and that could go wrong. Or you could celebrate!

The way I see it there are three ways to celebrate the launch:

  • Pray.  These last few days should be filled with prayer. Spend time getting close to God and give serious consideration to what the next phase of your relationship with Him is going to look like. Don’t forget to pray for your team, your leaders, the community and the people who will find their way back to God.
  • Rest. Chances are you’re tired. You’ve been pushing it hard this season. Sundays come every week now. No doubt, the pre-launch season has been a busy one. Best to take some extra time and rest before Sunday.
  • Trust. No, I mean it. Trust God. There’s nothing more to do then to trust Him.

I suppose I just want planters to breathe and take it all in…remind yourself to watch God do his thing.

Because whatever the outcome of launch, you have started a new work for the Kingdom and that’s worth celebrating!

How do plan to celebrate during launch weekend? Do you find it challenging to stop and enjoy the church planting journey? I’d love to hear your perspective.

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