Called to Plant a Church? This Might Help

I have the privilege to speak to men and woman who are being called to start new things for the Kingdom. I am always inspired after hearing how God is working in their lives; challenging them to move outside of their comfort zone and follow Jesus. It’s because of them that we get new churches.

I’ve learned a few things during these conversations and identified some principles about calling.

One of our strategic partners at NewThing is The Aspen Group. I recently sat down with them to talk about this topic for their Alignment Conference Podcast series.

If you’re thinking of planting a church, it might help.

Check it the full article and podcast HERE.

Here’s the Soundcloud Link.

Is Your Heart Broken for Your Community?

Before you set out to plant a church, your heart must be broken for the community. It may seem obvious and you’re most likely nodding your head in the affirmative. But you must be sure.

There are going to be set-backs and disappointments in your church planting. There will be times when the only thing that holds you to the cause is your love for the people in your community.

And if your heart isn’t broken don’t even bother planting. If you do, it’s really about you then. And that’s a sin.

You can’t just tell us your heart is broken. I’d recommend you spend some time really thinking/praying through this.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine if you’re heart really is broken for the place where you will plant.

  1. If this is the only place you’ll ever plant a church will you be content?
  2. Do you see the suffering? It’s there. Does it move you in a significant way.
  3. Do you see/understand the assets of the community?
  4. Do you have a holy discontent for the community?
  5. What evidence do you have that God is at work in this place? Is it clear how He’s calling you to participate.
  6. Do you find it easy to connect with people?
  7. Do you have an extra dose of patience for people?
  8. Do you understand how people in the community live, work and play? Do you respect it?
  9. Do you see the people of the community through God’s eyes? What evidence do you have?
  10. Do you find that you are genuinely interested in all people/groups you encounter in the community.

What about you? What are some ways you can be sure you’re heart is broken for the community?

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The Holy Calling

You may get some push back from well-meaning friends and relatives when you tell them about your church plant project. They may wonder why you are spending so much time, energy and money to start a new church. Aren’t there enough churches they might ask? Why don’t you do something that’s a little easier and doesn’t demand so much of your family? Aren’t there others things you can do with your life that isn’t so crazy and pays better?

The Calling of St. Peter and St. Andrew by Jacob de Wet
The Calling of St. Peter and St. Andrew by Jacob de Wet

You’ll smile and thank them for their words. Perhaps, there’s even some truth in what they say.

But you and I know you don’t have a choice.

People give up on hobbies or bad ideas. They give up on bad business ventures. Sometimes they even give up on dreams.

Church planting isn’t any of these things.

Church planting is a calling. It’s an opportunity to glorify God and serve Him.

And you can’t give up a calling. You just can’t.

“Thus, for followers of Christ, calling neutralizes the fundamental position of choice in modern life. “I have chosen you,” Jesus said, “you have not chosen me.” We are not our own; we have been bought with a price. We have no rights, only responsibilities. Following Christ is not our initiative, merely our response, in obedience. Nothing works better to debunk the pretensions of choice than a conviction of calling. Once we have been called, we literally “have no choice.”
― Os Guinness

What about you? Do you feel ‘called’ to church planting? In what ways has it been challenging for you? How close have you been to giving up on it?

I’ve written about CALLING here.

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Interview with Matt Miller, Church Planter — Shawnee Mission, KS

Matt MillerI 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 Matt Miller, Lead Planter of New City Church in Shawnee Mission, Kansas.

I first met Matt when he arrived at Restore for a Leadership Residency. Matt had been on staff at a mega-church in Miami Florida. Through relationships with people in Kansas City, Matt moved his family to the Kansas City area with a dream of planting a church for people far from God.

Matt spent 10 months as a Leadership Resident with Restore. During his time he did everything right in my opinion. He attended assessment. He leaned into the phases of the residency. He remained teachable and worked hard to reproduce small groups and teams. This set him up for a strong launch. During the course of his residency, Matt and I became great friends–at least that’s what he tells me! More importantly, I think I learned as much from Matt as he did from us.

Three churches and one church planting group in the Kansas City area pooled resources and relationships to help Matt launch New City.NewCity

Westside Family

Olathe Bible Church

The Heartland Project

Restore Communtiy Church

The start of New City is a great examples of churches and networks working together to plant new churches.

New City launched in January 2012. While Matt is the lead planter, he will be the first to tell you he hasn’t done any of it alone. He was joined by his friend Chris Moix and his family.  They hired Tiffany Mills and others. New City launched strong and they’ve gained a ton of moment since. Chris transitioned from the business world into ministry.

New City is a New Thing church.

I am grateful for my friendship with Matt. He has a passion for Jesus and wisdom beyond his years. It was a great day when he and his family decided to move to Kansas City. I am humbled by the opportunity to interview him for Mission Glue. I know we will all be inspired and encouraged by his story.

What circumstances led you to believe God was calling you to plant a church?

I was asking God what was next for me in back in 2009, over the next year, God directed my steps to planting a church.  Proverbs 3:5-6.

Describe the cultural ethos of your church plant.  

New City was started to inspire you to trust in and live like Jesus.  We focus on three key areas: Sunday Celebration (create an environment where people can “taste and see that the Lord is good.”, Discipleship (provide a clear pathway that moves people to a fuller understanding that Jesus is Lord.) And, Missional Life (to be a people on mission of bringing Kingdom (prosperity, justice and integrity) to our city.  To start a movement!)

How are you serving the community?

New City is fully engaged in our community.  In our first year we hosted over 75 community events.  We now have 3 school partnerships (all schools in our local community) and very close to having a 4th.  The schools are Shawanoe and Nieman Elementary and Trailridge Middle School.  Working on Comanche Elementary.  Also, every Friday we open up our facility (are you proud I didn’t say our church), that used to be a theatre, and we provide a free new dvd release family movie, free popcorn, free soda.  Also, during the movie we host ELL classes and open up our food pantry.  On a typical Friday night we will have over 200 of our neighbors come to the movie.  Lastly, we always do our best to inspire people to take the Kingdom to their world.

How are you developing people? Staff, volunteers, launch team?  

This is our weakest area.  We move too fast, and at times make unwise leadership selections.  We strive to practice the “I do You watch” model that I picked up from Restore Community Church.  However, having this a core piece of our leadership development culture has been difficult.  That being said, we have a ton of volunteers.  It takes around 60 volunteers to make each of our services meet our standards.  We currently have very little “gaps” and are working to filling 60 more spots as we prepare to start our 12:30 service on Easter Sunday.  Our communication to our volunteers happens like this: Staff…Ministry Leader…Ministry Specific Service Coordinator…Volunteers for that hour.  We host a Leadership Community 6 times a year that brings all of our volunteers together.  Each Ministry Leader has a monthly meeting with his/her key leaders.  I have a 1-on-1 with each Ministry Leader.

What have your learned about raising funds for your project that can help the rest of us?

We raised over $500,000 prior to launch.  Rule #1.  Give people the chance to say “No.” Don’t assume they will, you must ask!  Rule #2. Don’t let the only time you talk to people is when you’re asking for money…nobody likes that guy.  Rule #3.  Change the world with their money and then tell/show them what you did.  Rule #4.  Always, always ask:)

How is your family part of your church planting adventure?

My wife is on staff with us.  My kids are in charge of messing up Kid City.

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

For me it was faith.  Faith in God and faith in myself.  Does God really want me to do this…Can I really do this.  I leaned on the story of Abraham, he believe in a God that could raise dead things back to life and make something out of nothing.  That’s where I was when I started…just me and my family.  No staff, no team, no volunteers, no people.  But my faith was strong…I believed that God could.  And, He is!

Who inspires you and why?  

Constantly see God being faithful to His promises!  When we seek Kingdom above else and live righteously He will give you everything you need.  Matthew 6:33.

How are you caring for yourself while planting?  

Great question.  Planting has forced me to add daily solitude to my schedule.  Every night, after we put the kids to bed, I spend about 20-30 minutes in my hot tub.  This is where I hear from God.  Where I pray.  Where I complain.  Where I cry.  Where I sit still and decompress.  My hot tub (solitude) saves my life.  Allows me to be a focused husband, dad, leader, and pastor.

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

Yes.  We are set to start our next New City on Easter Sunday 1014.  We are leaning towards the community around Comanche Elementary, but this isn’t a for sure…you have to hold your dreams loosely and let God guide your steps.

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

Tell me how you currently: spend your money, love your neighbors, lead your family, handle conflict?  Based on their answer I can see what kind of church they will plant.

Just for fun: What is your favorite band and why?  

Right now I’m diggin’ Burno Mars’ new album, Unorthodox Jukebox.  It makes me smile.

What question should I have asked you that I didn’t?  

What would you do different?  I would not put those who are spiritually immature in places of leadership.  It has cost me valuable time and emotional energy.

You can keep up with all that’s going on at New City here. Will you do me a favor and pray for Matt and the New City team today.

Are you planting a church or missional community? I’d love to talk to you about it! Leave a comment and I’ll get back to you. If you dig the content of Mission Glue you can subscribe here.

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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