10 Reasons Why I Believe in Church Planting

Not long ago a friend of mine who is not a believer asked me the question every planter hears at some point: why do I want to plant churches when so many already exist? worldchurchplant

I helped my non-believing friend try to understand church planting the best I could that night. I am not sure he understood it any better.

But his question also got me to thinking. In fact, it challenged me so much I went home and starting writing a list and titled it ‘why I believe in church planting.’

My list isn’t a theological argument for church planting. Nor is it missiologically comprehensive.

It’s just my list. These are phrases I use to help people who struggle to better understand what we do and why we do it. These are the reasons that get me out of bed everyday.

So here it goes…

  1. I believe in church planting because I found my way back to God at a church planting church.
  2. I believe God uses church planting to draw new believers to Jesus because we go to them.
  3. I believe a new healthy church glorifies God and that’s why any of us are here.
  4. I believe church planting is the best way to make the gospel real to people in post-modern, post-Christian 21st century that is largely skeptical of it.
  5. I believe church planting offers people an opportunity to be on mission for something bigger than themselves.
  6. I believe church planting is the life-beat of the church because it keeps the mission on the edge.
  7. I believe church planting is the way to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) to make disciples and teach them and baptize them.
  8. I believe church planting brings renewal to the Body of Christ by drawing upon the skills and talents of Jesus followers in unique ways.
  9. I believe church planting is an authentic expression of Christian faith because it embodies the original ethos of the Jesus movement.
  10. I believe church planting will lead to movements and that through movements we will achieve the Jesus mission. This is why the church exists.

I’ve left out a ton. (I did want to keep this list to just 10 items.) But this about does it for me.

So what about you? Why do you believe in church planting? What items are on your list? I’d love to hear from you.

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How Do You Prevent Burnout? Thoughts from Wayne Cordeiro

I think you’d agree, it’s way too easy to burn out in ministry. And yet, it happens all of the time. We love what we do and so we work ourselves into a frenzy that leads to at best to burnout, or worse to moral catastrophe.

So how do prevent burnout?  leadingonempty

Yesterday, our NewThing tribe had the privilege to hear from Wayne Cordeiro on this topic.

Boy, did I need that.

In fact, Corderio’s book, Leading on Empty helped me navigate a tough season in ministry. I had left the business world for church planting. While I loved the new season of my life, I was burning out. Leading on Empty helped me learn to fill my tank and set guidrails in my life to prevent it from happening again.

Cordeiro’s New Thing talk both inspired me and challenged me. I thought the topic so important that I took notes so I could share them with you. Leading on emptybook

Cordeiro outlined three points to help us:

  1. Recognize the signs of burnout. Like rumble strips on the roadside we need to recognize the early signs of burnout. These can include being overly emotional, easily angered and frustrated and most importantly losing joy in the things that we love. Recognizing the early signs of burnout will prevent you from hitting the guardrails—or worse.
  2. Plan rest before you work. Cordeiro advocates that we plan our rests ahead and then stick to it. We can’t expect to rest well if we aren’t intentional about resting. Put your rest on your calendar. Create a plan and stick to it.
  3. Know what fills your ‘emotional’ tank and know what drains it. Cordeiro warns that a depleted emotional tank leads to anxiety, emotional exhaustion and finally a nervous breakdown. He advocated we create a list and identify all of the things we do that fill our emotional tanks (gives us pleasure, joy etc.). Additionally, he urges us to identify the things that drain our tank. We need to learn to limit and/or delegate the things that drain us. Next, he exhorted us to share this list with our spouse. And then allow your spouse to share their list. Then, without judging, pray over that list for God to fill your spouses tank.

Cordeiro reminded all of us of the dangers of depleting our tanks without filling it. Burnout. And that hurts us, our families, the people around us and ultimately the Kingdom.

I love that my tribe, New Thing, offers these monthly broadcasts on a diverse array of topics. If you want more information about New Thing, click here.

What about you? What are the indicators that you are leading on empty. What fills your tank? What drains your tank?

If you like the content of Mission Glue, please SUBSCRIBE. Thank you for reading—I really appreciate it.

A Prayer for Memorial Day

Eternal God,poppy
from whom all life comes, to whom all life returns,
we remember all who served our country in the military.
We remember and we give thanks.
We give thanks for sacrifices made and losses endured.
We give thanks for acts of courage, grace and hope.
We give thanks for our brothers and sisters who gave the full measure of devotion.
We give thanks for those we knew well and those we never met.
For the life, goodness, faith, courage, and love that was in each one, we give thanks.
We pray for our brothers and sisters who are recovering from wounds in body, mind, spirit, or soul.
Work healing in them in all the forms that healing takes.
We pray for those who provide care to them.
Show us ways that we can extend care and support.
We pray for families and friends and all who grieve for loved ones who have died.
Meet them in the valley of death’s shadow.
Embrace them in the healing warmth of
your comfort, grace and love.
Grant them and all of us the assurance
that nothing in life or in death
can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord,
in whose name we pray.
May the day soon come when swords are beaten into plowshares, war is studied no more, and all peoples and your world will know peace.
May we work for that day.
We pray through Jesus Christ.
Amen.

— Mark Koenig

Warning: First Impressions in Small Groups Matter Too!

I think you’d agree, first impressions matter. sparks

People expect a positive first experience. If they don’t, well they won’t be back.

Most of you planting have a first impressions or front line team to welcome your guests and make a good first impression. (If you don’t you should.) Read this now. This might help as well.

But what about first impressions in smaller communities–say in small groups? If I am honest, I haven’t thought about this much–until recently.

See, I am learning that the first connections people have into a small group are often the most enduring. If this is true, then it’s important we church planters understand how people make first connections and why they make such an impact on people.

We’ve been talking a lot about the power of connecting at Restore these days. Connecting with each other and God is a key value for us. And so I’ve been talking to some of the people who found their way back to God at Restore. What I’ve found is that people talk a lot about their first connections into community.

That led me to ask some people who found their way back to God how their first connections helped them grow. So I had a conversation with my friend James whose first impression in a small group was catalytic to his spiritual growth. He agreed to answer some questions about this last week.

James reveals that this first connection in small group was catalytic. They joined one in the summer of 2011 and were soon baptized. James became an apprenticeship and today he leads his own small group. James attributes his ever-increasing spiritual velocity to those very first connections.  I am grateful to James for his willingness to share his story with us. I hope it helps you think through connecting in your small group context.

“Probably like most folks, a little uncomfortable at first.  I was actually reluctant to go at first, I felt that I wasn’t ready to come to a small group because I didn’t know any thing about the bible and I wasn’t sure I was far enough in my journey and I wasn’t comfortable praying in front of other people and on and on and on.  However I found that many of the people in the group were just like me, not super Christians that were above everyone else, but real people with real world issues struggling to figure out their own journey with the help of the small group community.  The other important piece of the small group was the connection with others that grew into contributing, I’m not sure if or when I would have become involved without these first connections.  It’s been 2 years since we attended our first small group and those first connections that were created are still some of my strongest connections within the restore family, relationships that have truly turned in to Brothers in Christ.”

So I ask you as I ask myself:

  • Should we be paying more attention to first connections in small groups?
  • How should we try to foster better first connections in small communities?
  • Should we value first connections like these over others? Why or why not?
  • Do you agree that some first connections in a spiritual community are stronger than others?
  • How could we better prepare our leaders to be more aware of these first connections?

I’d love to hear from you.

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The 5 Season Cycle of Church Planting

If we’re going to create a movement of reproducing churches and missional communities, we must understand that a church plant is a dynamic organization with a cyclical lifespan. We must understand that churches exist in seasons and each season has unique goals and challenges. Understanding these seasons will help you discern what season you’re in, what you’re trying to accomplish and how you’re going to go about doing it. 5 cycle

So what might it look like to understand your church plant as a dynamic entity with a cyclic lifespan?

I’ve thought about this and read from others (namely Aubrey Malphurs and Ed Stetzer) and have developed what I am calling the 5 Season Cycle of Planting. The heart of my model is a gathering and scattering strategy. I contend that if we committed ourselves to the 5 Season Cycle, we would see more healthy reproducing churches planted.

Keep in mind this is a 40,000 sketch of a work in progress. I will fill in more details in later posts.

1. Residency Season (Preparation)
Somewhere between 1 to 2 years before your launch you should be participating in an active residency with a church that plants churches. Here, the planter is preparing himself for launch, identifying location and fundraising while learning both the strategic and tactical elements of planting from the sending church. This is a season of active learning and reflection.

2. Pre-Launch Season (Planning)
This is somewhere between 6 and 12 months out from your hard-launch date. You’re on location and the details are starting to come into focus. This is a time of intense preparation and team development. Your building a launch team, developing leaders, casting vision, fundraising, serving the community and building a ton of relationships with people in the community.

3. Launch Season (Execution)
This season includes your hard launch date and the subsequent 6 to 8 weeks immediately following. During this season your executing the plan and making things happen. You’re starting small groups and serving the community. Your goal is to launch large in order to build momentum to sustain the cycle. During this season you are also identifying your first leadership resident.

4. Post-Launch Season (Consolidating)
This season starts 1 to 2 years after your hard launch date. This season should end with your plant being financially self-sustaining and the next generation of leaders emerging for mission. Your team should be serving the community and building lots of new relationships. You are also training and developing your leadership resident.

5. Reproducing Season (Sending)
This season is approximately 2 to 3 years after launch. It’s the season during which you move from 1 to 2 services or reproduce a network of small groups or missional communities. It’s the season of consolidation before you start preparing for the next launch (or missional community) and doing it all over again. It’s the season when you send out a new planter (hopefully your leadership resident) and a team to start another church.

Repeat!

I suspect that if every new church followed the 5 Season Cycle faithfully and consistently, we would get closer to a movement.  And that all starts, church planter, when you understand the cyclic nature of a church plant and embrace it.

What are your thoughts? Does this help you think about the life-cycle of your church plant in a new way? What have I missed? What have I got wrong?

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