Carry Me

“I was all the time tugging and carrying water. But now I have a river that carries me.”

D.L. Moody

“But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

‭‭Jesus, John‬ ‭4:14‬ ‭NLT‬‬ – http://bible.com/116/jhn.4.14.nlt

  • Constantly feeling the tension of the ropes reminds us of our great need for his strength.
  • Finding ourselves thirsty, reminds us to give up on anything that promises refreshment.
  • Spring up, O well within. Carry me.

Keys to Developing Leaders: Develop Trust, Observe Obedience and Faithfulness

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Wade Burnett (Left) with Multisite Solutions interviews Chad Merrell (Center) and Clay Fuqua (Right) at our most recent Multisite Roundtable.

Got to know two of our incredible Louisiana Multisite Campus Pastors a little better at this year’s North Louisiana Multi-site Roundtable. Wade Burnett, with Multisite solutions interviewed Clay Fuqua and Chad Merrell as part of the event. Interesting enough, neither came from a ministry background. Love these stories of ministry trajectory:

Clay Fuqua started a successful restaurant >> went on an overseas mission trip and became passionate about evangelism >> began a mentoring relationship with his pastor Philip Robertson >> began teaching on Wednesday nights and bivocationally at other churches >> Now, he’s leading a very successful multisite campus of Philadelphia Baptist in Alexandria, LA.

Chad Merrell was raised in a pastors home, but committed himself to NOT go into ministry >> started a career in management in the chicken industry, which brought he and his family to Louisiana >> began attending First Baptist West Monroe >> began a relationship with the pastor and other key staff in the church >> began leading a Small Group >> began leading the churches Celebrate Recovery ministry >> Now, he’s leading a very successful multisite campus of First West in Sterlington, LA.

I love the trajectory of ministry engagement that these men took. Common denominators are mentoring type relationships with their pastors and faithful ministry service in their churches for years. Trust developed, faithfulness and obedience observed.

Wade Burnett says that 87% of Multisite Campus Pastors are hired from within the church. This trajectory will no doubt become more and more common. So, if you’re looking for leaders, look around. Who’s growing in their faithfulness, passion for ministry, and mutual trust. Equip and release!

Trends in Church Technology

I was able to teach a session on Trends in Church Technology at the 2017 Total Church Life Conference on August 19th in Baton Rouge. Here are notes from the session: 

churchtechWhy Technology Matters to churches?

  • Systems Matter – technology provides us with great systems that run beneath the surface and save time, energy, and resources. 
  • Deliver the Gospel to more people, more regularly – technology can help us with our main mission of delivering the gospel to everyone in our communities and world. 
  • Relevance – The language of the next generation is found in technology and social media. When we allow them to engage their faith in that language, we serve them well. 

“The technological revolution we’ve seen in churches over the past 30 years is staggering. What’s even more remarkable is the speed at which technology in the church continues to improve.” – Jonathan Howe (Read Jonathan’s great article on Church and Technology Trends HERE). 

Technologies Every Church Can and Should Consider:

1. Digital Communication Options – Connecting your church through texting and social media is essential. Examples: 

  • Email services like Mailchimp allows your emails to have a wider reach.
  • Facebook pages for publicity and closed groups for coordinating and inspiring leaders. 
  • Texting is the preferred way for many to receive communication these days. Check out Textinchurch.com or subscriber services like Remind.

2. Cloud Based Church Management Systems – The church directory is now in your hand. Cloud based means the management of the churches directory, giving, and even bookkeeping is no longer on one computer in the church office, but can be a collaborative tool throughout the leadership community. Check out this article from ChurchTechToday.com that compares the 20 Top Management Systems. Our church has used Church Office Online and now Planning Center for great functionality in volunteer management. 

3. Digital Giving Options – Online giving and now text giving can increase your churches giving by 25%. Multiple ways to give are necessary to reach new generations of givers who don’t know what a checkbook is and carry little cash. Check out our churches letter 5 Ways to Give at Bridge Church that is sent out with Quarterly Contribution statement and imagine the possibilities. Most church management systems have digital giving connections or clients that they work with. I’ve also heard good things about Tithely. Here’s a good article sponsored by them about trends in giving today

4. Computerized Child Check-In – Being on top of child safety makes you more relevant to today’s parents. It was once assumed that the church was a safe place for kids, but not anymore. Child safety is something every church must think about and plan for. Again, most church management systems have digital check in connections or clients that they work with. Here’s a good roundup of possibilities. I’ve also heard good things about Kid Check. 

5. Online Leadership Training – Years ago I heard that there were three reasons that people don’t volunteer at your church or why volunteers quit: 1) I don’t have time. 2) I didn’t feel appreciated. 3) I don’t know how. Today, instead of calling another meeting, leadership training is a few clicks away through services like MinistryGrid.com, Trainedup.org, and Rightnow Media. You can still direct and lead people’s training experience through selecting the right videos and clips for your church or making your own training videos and posting them on the above mentioned sites. 

6. Live Streaming – Lights, Camera, Outreach! Live streaming can help people who travel out of town stay in touch with your church, as well as spread the message to more people in the community. No need for expensive equipment anymore. You can even live stream from an Ipad or Iphone. Using free streaming services like Facebook Live, Periscope, or pay for services like Live Stream or U-Stream. Here’s a good Beginner’s Guide to Streaming

7. Video Announcements – Control announcement times and make them memorable and relevant to new generations, as well as make them longer lasting throughout the week as they are shared via social media, web, and email. All you need is a iphone or other camera, creative people, and editing software. Our church plant early on even created an Announcement character that helped capture attention. Check out one of E-Van, the announcement specialists videos. Imagine the possibilities. There is also whispers of services that will offer this to churches in the future. 

See Jonathan Howe’s article for other future trends. Follow ChurchTechToday.com for other new technology developments helpful to the mission of the Church. Let me know if you’ve got something else up your sleeve in this regard.

Time Management and Church Planting

CalendarBibleThe number one answer to the question, “What is the current greatest challenge in your life and ministry?” on our Louisiana church planting growth reports is some version of Time Management. Everyone seems to struggle with time these days, but church planters deal with the added pressures of usually a second or third job, young children at home, clock ticking on outside funding, little to no administrative assistance, continuing education demands, etc., etc. A few thoughts from my failures of time management as a church planter and small church leader:

1. Learn the discipline of turning it off and going home.

The last two church plants I’ve been a part of, centered ministry around our home. The church office, the church phone, the church leadership meetings, the church supplies were all based at my address for the first 12-18 months. This made it extremely hard for me to ever turn off work. Coupled with the fact that it is never all done in ministry. Two ideas I had to get used to: 1) I will not get it all done everyday. 2) To be effective tomorrow, I need to turn it off and do something else today. The quicker you’re OK with these two ideas, the better off you and your family will be.

2. Develop a weekly schedule and stick to it.

Young pastors and church planters get in trouble with time management issues many times because we fail to create the accountability of a weekly rhythm and schedule. THIS STRUGGLE IS REAL!!! A friend of mine in ministry likes to say, “Winging it is not a good strategy.” But many of us wing it when it comes to our weekly rhythms. Your schedule should have flexibility in it because much great ministry happens in the interruptions and spontaneous opportunities, but creating a basic framework for time spent is a necessity. If you start this early, as you add staff and expectations of a growing congregation, you will be better prepared to say no and yes to added responsibilities and interruptions. It will also be beneficial for staff and congregation to know when they can expect to find an open door to your office and when they can call you without interrupting something important. A schedule will also help you make sure you are balancing your time with planting / pastoring priorities – i.e. Evangelism, Discipleship, Leadership Development, Community Engagement, etc.

3. Develop a system for To Do’s, Daily Scheduling, and Keeping up with Contacts.

Whether its Outlook, iCal, Google Cal, Google Docs, an old school Planner system, develop some tools that you can use in keeping the to do’s, appointments, and contacts handy at all times. And the technology out there is amazing in regards to personal productivity. Develop something that works for you and utilize it.

I’ve started accounts with so many different task management and scheduling services online that I’ve lost count. I finally developed my own tool that I print out and fill out each morning or the night before and return to throughout the day. Check it out HERE.

To Do_s Editable Google DocsIt’s to do’s, appointments on one page. On the back I list contacts throughout the day, with the goal of 20 contacts everyday, which is important to my work and a challenge for my introverted self. This helps me stay organized and focused and goal oriented throughout the day. (An editable Google Doc is HERE. Or Download a Word Doc Here – To Do_s – Editable – to create your own).

 

What do you use to keep organized and focused? What works well for you in time management? What tips and lessons learned can you share?

Next week I’ll share some lessons learned on managing preaching as a bivocational planter.

Replace FOMO with FOOMO

PhoneWe’re hearing a lot about FOMO these days or Fear Of Missing Out. Evidently Social Media is leading us to be consumed with what others are doing, instead of what we are doing. Studies show that up to 75% of young adults experience this. Oxford has even added this acronym to its English dictionary. Definition:

 Anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media.

Evangelical Christians of old suffered from another form of this, but it actually has added benefit to your life and the life of others. Try FOOMO. Fear Of OTHERS Missing Out. Specifically, the fear of others missing out on the promises of God in Christ.

“I could almost wish to be cursed and cut off from the Messiah for the benefit of my brothers, my own flesh and blood.” Romans 9:3

“because we know the fear of the Lord, we seek to persuade people.” 2 Corinthians 5:11

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or empty pride, but in humility consider others more important than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4

“We proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, striving with all His energy working powerfully within me.” Colossians 1:28-2

What if we were consumed with the fear that friends, relatives, associates, neighbors were separated from God and it was up to us to help them bridge that gap. This is the anxiety that leads to obedience to God’s commission for our lives and the salvation and spiritual maturity of others.

Experts say FOMO is driven by what we give attention to. Giving too much attention to social media = mis-allocating attention. Let’s try giving more attention to the needs of others and especially their need to connect with Christ this week.

Turn off Social Media and get started by doing one of these this week:

  • Invite a friend to church this weekend.
  • Get to know a new neighbor.
  • Spend focused time in prayer for your Friends, Relatives, Associates Neighbors to know God.
  • Volunteer at local schools or neighborhood centers.
  • Start a Bible Study or book club in your home and invite those who are far from God.
  • Share your faith journey with someone over coffee or lunch.
  • Give away a copy of the Bible or a book that’s helped you grow.
  • Look for a project that you and your family could do to bless someone to need.
  • Don’t go alone. Invite someone along that might could use a listening ear or time away from their routine today.

 

The Church Planter’s Kid

Our oldest, Jack is 15 today. I’ve updated this list over the years. Added a few things this year. It’s not always easy being the Church Planter’s Kid. Proud of Jack and the young man he’s becoming.

He was born 8 days after the very first service of our first church plant in South Louisiana, which started in an un-air conditioned fire station.

  • Because his dad’s a church planter, until he was four we would drive past a fire station and he would yell “church” and when we drove by a steepled church building he would yell “space ship.”
  • Because his dad’s a church planter, the first time we attended a church besides ours on Sunday, he asked where their fire truck was and why their chairs were so long (pews).
  • Because his dad’s a church planter, he likes to hang out in coffee shops and has great bedside manner in hospitals.
  • Because his dad’s a church planter, he doesn’t have as much as many kids in our area, but never complains.
  • Because his dad’s a church planter, he doesn’t know that you shouldn’t wear shorts to church or that you shouldn’t be close friends with people of another race or class.
  • Because his dad’s a church planter, he knows who Rick Warren & John Piper are, & asked every Friday morning, “Do we have a Block Party this weekend?”
  • Because his dad’s a church planter, he doesn’t know what it means to be a part of a mega youth group or ride on a bus to camp.
  • Because his dad’s a church planter, he knows his way around Pro Presenter and online kids curriculum.
  • Because his dad’s a church planter, he’s handled a lot of pressure to be the good kid, pray out loud, help with the nursery, etc., etc.

Proud of Jack. Grateful for his friendship and partnership in this ministry. It’s not always easy to be a church planters kid. Praying for Jack and all our church planting kids out there.

Recommended Reading: Ministry and Leadership

Why Read?Updating my “What I’m Reading” Page today. Here’s a list of ome of my favs from this years reading list on Ministry and Leadership. I’ll share a few favs in History and Biography next Friday.

1. Reaching the Unreached: Becoming Raiders of the Lost Art by Peyton Jones. Challenging book that pushes against some of what makes modern ministry comfortable instead of urgent. Love Peyton Jones. Gave away a couple of boxes of this book this summer to our church planters and partners in Louisiana.

2. Everyone’s a Genius: Unleashing Creativity for the Sake of the World by Alan Briggs. This book will challenge your excuses and as a leader, make you believe again in the people around you to accomplish big things. Grateful for Alan. This is his third book and all three have made me think and are books I keep picking up to remember the insights gleaned.

3. Turning Everyday Conversations into Gospel Conversations by Jimmy Scroggins, Steve Wright, Bennett LesleeThis book gives great encouragement and a simple how to for those wanting to be consistent witnesses. Also has some great insights on church multiplication.

4. Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World by James Emery White. I have three kids that are Gen Z, so I was interested in this book. I was a little disappointed that it was really more about ministry in today’s world than insight into Gen Z. However, the insights are great. But don’t expect a plan for how to raise and think like your Gen Z kids.

5. Gospel Fluency: Speaking the Truths of Jesus Into the Everyday Stuff of Life by Jeff Vanderstelt. No one writes and speaks clearer about how to take the deep work of the Gospel into everyday life than Jeff Vanderstelt. Must read.

6. The Church as Movement: Starting and Sustaining Missional-Incarnational Communities by J.R. Woodward and Dan White Jr. Very technical work on Missional communities. Every chapter is one to savor and work on. Would be a great book to mentor a future church planter through. Some other insights and my fav quotes here.

7. Sharing Jesus without Freaking Out: Evangelism the Way You Were Born to Do It by Alvin Reid. Reid’s latest book will encourage you as a witness for Christ. Shorter in length than his textbook The Evangelism Handbook, which I recommend you read as well, this book is very personal, borrowing from personal stories of witnessing encounters of Reid and others. Some of my fav quotes here.

8. Designed to Lead: The Church and Leadership Development by Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck. Another book that you’ll want to revisit every year as you tweek systems and processes in your church. A few insights and quotes here.

Got any good recommends?

Let’s connect over on Goodreads as well and interact around what we’re reading.

Highlights from the Fluent Series

Last week we wrapped up our Summer Message series at Bridge Church Madisonville called Fluent. The series was designed to challenge us as believers to think about our understanding and communication of the gospel. We tackled common cliches that Christians use to define their faith, but are not always clearly understood by us or those around us. These statements/cliches are:

  • “I Got Saved!”
  • “Jesus Changed My Life.”
  • “I asked Jesus to come into my heart.”
  • “I am Free In Christ”
  • “I’m On My Way to Heaven.”
  • “I’m growing in my faith.”
  • “I’m living for Jesus.”

Here’s a few highlights from the series. Download these and other Bridge Sermons HERE.

  • God has tied salvation to the spoken and heard message about Jesus Christ.
  • We live in a BROKEN WORLD. Beautiful but broken. We can’t FIX the BROKENNESS ourselves. Jesus REDEEMS, RECONCILES, and REGENERATES. Jesus Changes our lives and mends the brokenness caused by sin.
  • What do you do with a gift? You ACCEPT it. And salvation is offered by God and accepted in repentance by people on this earth.
  • Salvation is not just a thought I had one time at camp, but it’s a change of life and a radical reorientation of our hearts and minds to a new center of gravity – the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • If Jesus is in your heart, He’s displaying His glory in and through your life. Don’t rest your salvation on any cliche. Follow Jesus. Get close to His word. Do what it says. Display his gift!
  • freedom in Christ is not a justification for questionable behavior. And there are guardrails on our freedom in Christ that are put there by the Holy Spirit’s work in the life of each individual believer.
  • Nobody in the bible ever said, “Don’t you want to go to heaven when you die?” The desired outcome of life is ETERNAL LIFE. And that doesn’t start at death, it starts when you begin a relationship with Jesus Christ. Life and Eternity is about RELATIONSHIP.
  • We are not marked by our perfection, but how we respond in our imperfections.
  • Missional living is living with a hammer in our hands and the truth of God in our hearts.
  • We don’t live missionally for the light to shine on us. Everything we do should draw attention to Christ.
  • Works CONFIRM our salvation, not secure it. Works DISPLAY our new life IN CHRIST. Works are a RESPONSE, not an obligation.
  • Legalism is following the rules instead of following God.
  • If we’re not obligated, the why do we serve? Because it’s what we’re created for (Ephesians 2:10).

Join Bridge Church, 10am on Sunday’s at the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum in Madisonville. Find us at BridgeNorthshore.com and Facebook.com/Bridgenorthshore.

200 Churches Planted Since 2010

Wow! It’s been a busy summer! Great stuff, including celebrating 200 churches planted by Louisiana Baptist churches since 2010. Check out the above vid for some great quotes and highlights from the celebration. Here’s a few notes about the 200 plants:

  • 200 Church Plants since 2010
  • New Churches have been Planted in 91 different Louisiana Cities and Towns
  • New Churches have been Planted in 25 different Louisiana Associations
  • New Churches have been planted among 13 different people groups:
    – 60 African-American
    – 11 Asian
    – 2 African Language
    – 27 Hispanic
    – 14 Multi-Ethnic by Design
  • New Churches also include 21 Multi-Site developments and 25 RePlants

Great to be a part of this movement in Louisiana and across North America.

 

Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out

SharingJesusWithoutFreakingOutAlvin Reid’s latest book, Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out, is a great read that will encourage you as a witness for Christ. Shorter in length than his textbook The Evangelism Handbook, which I recommend you read as well, this book is very personal, borrowing from personal stories of witnessing encounters of Reid and others. Jesus desires for us to be His witnesses (see Mark 4:19, Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8). Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out will help you in this pursuit as a believer.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book to wet your appetite:

  • In our mastery of fellowship with the saints, we’ve lost a burden for a friendship with sinners.
  • Lost people are more amazed at our silence than offended at our message.
  • The only “failure” in witnessing is the failure to witness, and even when that happens God still loves you.
  • Daily prayer: “God, give me today (1) an opportunity to speak with someone about Jesus; (2) the wisdom to see it; and (3) the courage to take it.”
  • living for Jesus is not hard, it’s impossible! That’s why God gave us his Son to save us, his Spirit to live within us, his Word to guide us, and his church to encourage us.
  • You can’t evangelize effectively on a consistent basis without prayer.
  • if you know someone really closely for years and never speak about Jesus, you are speaking about him: you are saying with your lack of words he is no big deal.

Right now you can buy a box of 20 for $5 each from Lifeway.com. Grab a box for your church, small group, etc. I’m giving away a couple of boxes at our Louisiana Church Planting Network gatherings this summer. Also, our church is also giving this book away on Sunday’s this summer.

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