Church planters are seen as a rare breed in the body of Christ, but I don’t think they’re as rare as we think. God still calls & empowers people for this important kingdom role. Many times they’re just not discovered or mobilized because we’re not looking to discover or mobilize them. Knowing church planters & being one, here’s an observational list that you may find true of yourself if you’re thinking you may be a fit for church planting. Not saying all of these have to be true, but they may be true.
1. You made a lot of visits to the ER growing up.
Church planters are risk takers at heart & this probably started early. The desire to jump off of, over, or go through any obstacle to the detriment of personal health is often a characteristic of pioneering church planters.
2. You can’t concentrate in church because of the kids you saw playing in the street on the way.
You’re heart will be with those who are NOT in church on Sunday’s. At times it may consume you to the point that you seem at odds with church leaders. God may put that discontent there if he’s leading you to those outside the camp. (See my post on Sending the apostles).
3. You think Chic-Fil-A would be a good place for a church.
If you find yourselves in different environments & believe that spiritual life could happen there you might be a church planter. The imagination of the church planter is usually full of ideas about creating environments to share the gospel. The new churches I have been involved in have met in apartment complex offices, a fire station, a former bar, a local gym, & a museum. Doesn’t make sense? Made perfect sense to me! And worshipping in Chic-Fil-A on Sunday is a dream of mine!
4. You hang out with the wrong kind of people for the right kind of reasons.
In college, I didn’t play intramural ball with my collegiate ministries intramural teams. I had a desire to use the skills I had to build relationships with non-Christians. The church planter will often be energized more by these relationships than relationships in Sunday School. But get ready…
5. Your Christian friends think your weird for that.
You may even be labeled by religious friends for hanging around sinners & disreputable characters. But seems like I saw someone in the Bible that had the same thing happen. Mark 2:13-17.
6. You get a kick out of calluses on your hands.
Church planting is hard work. Gathering & motivating people can seem like pushing a rock up hill. Setting up church in non-traditional locations is not easy. If you are afraid of physical & emotional calluses & soreness then run the other way. Some go into church planting to avoid what they perceive as hard things in church leadership, but you’ll find many of the same things plus some in church planting. Make sure its a calling.
7. You’ve shared the gospel more times than you can remember.
Sharing the gospel must be a natural part of the church planters life & vocabulary. A church is a church because of the Gospel & the Gospel must be shared. The church planter must lead the way.
8. Friends call you with spiritual questions.
Leadership is innate & merely recognized by others. Do people see in you something that they want & need? Do people seek you out when there are questions about life & God? As a church planter you’ll probably be without title, position, & respect. Your character & ability to earn the respect of people because of leadership ability will be important.
9. You usually travel with a group.
You are more comfortable in a group & with a team, a posse. You will not be able to do this alone. Church planters must love people & believe that everyone is better off sticking together. Lone Ranger Church Planter is an oxymoron.
10. You daydream about solving big problems in the world.
North Korea, the crime ridden multi-housing complex down the street, the high school dropout problem, etc. These issues may cause you to stare off into the future & make list in your mind about how you would go about reaching people & changing the places with the greatest problems.
If this list still doesn’t talk you out of it, find out a little more about next steps here. And feel free to hit me up (email@example.com). I’d love to help you get started on the church planting journey. And there is a community that is needing God’s people to say yes and take the jump into multiplication!
Parenting is at the same time, the greatest joy and the most difficult task one can undertake. Now, I’m a veteran, and getting opportunities to share my failings and hard lessons learned more often with parents younger than me. Here’s what I find myself saying over and over:
- Parenting is hard. Much harder than you’ll ever imagine. Nobody can tell you how hard it is until you’ve experienced it.
- Parents must work to set the spiritual temperature and pace in the home.
- Limit technology. Limit technology. Limit technology. So much danger lurking on the other side of a click, finger swipe, and game controller.
- Say no to Snap Chat. Just do it. There’s just nothing good about it. Just say no!
- Recognize the competing voices in their hearts and heads and deal with them decisively.
- Get them around mentors and positive people early and often.
- Recognize God’s providence is greater than imperfect parental guidance.
What would you add to this list?
C.S. Lewis said it best: “Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.”
“Communication: Without It You Travel Alone” – John Maxwell.
Working with a few churches this week, including mine, to clean up communication. These three questions seem to have risen to the top as the most essential.
How do people hear about our church?
How do people know where to go when they get to our church?
How do people stay connected to our church throughout the week?
Let’s take these three one by one:
How do people hear about our church?
Remember, it’s not their job to find us, but our job to take our message to them. How will you intentionally take the gospel of Jesus Christ and good news happening at your church to the community? Ideas:
- Website. Lots of great sources for high quality websites today. Our church uses The Creative Place. Great partners. Ask around for local sources. Check out ChurchTechToday.com for reviews of church website template services.
- Social Media Pages. Everyone that uses Facebook Ads, etc. says they have people respond with attendance. Our Church uses SundaySocial.tv to help with high quality graphics for social media pages.
- Invite Cards at Outreach Events. Do you have outreach events? Hopefully. When you do, hand everyone an invite to the next thing.
- Direct Mail Plan. Check out the Mapping Center for Evangelism where you can get addresses with an annual subscription plus other good outreach strategy tools as low as $480 per year.
- Signage. In front of the building. Yard Signs around town. In some cities, billboards can be an effective tool as well.
- Radio Spots. Many stations offer a free community board for church events. If not free, they are usually very affordable, depending on the station.
- What else have you used to let people know about your church?
How do people know where to go when they get to our church?
The curse of knowledge plagues us as regular church members. The curse of knowledge is knowing where to go, we forget what it is like to not know and assume everyone must also know. Assume the opposite to become a more welcoming church. Ideas:
- Signs for visitor parking in the parking lot.
- Signs on outside of building giving directions.
- Signs inside of the building giving directions. Especially if you’re portable.
- Greeters at the entrances and if possible in the parking lot.
- Sign for Sign-up Opportunities.
- What else do you do to help people know where to go and what to do when they get to your church?
How do people stay connected to our church throughout the week?
Some people will naturally stay interested and know how to jump in and get involved in the life of the church, but that number is shrinking. We must be intentional to make relationships sticky in today’s culture. Ideas:
- Sunday Bulletin. I know it seems like it doesn’t get read, but it’s still worth doing. Can be done for very cheap with templates from Outreach.com and others.
- Social Media
- Letters / Snail Mail – people still love to get mail in the mailbox with their name on it.
- Email – FREE
- Montly or Weekly E-Newsletter – FREE
- Text Messaging – There are several great text messaging services for churches that range from FREE to around $35 per month. ChurchTechToday.com provides some helpful reviews.
- Personal contact through Small Groups
- What else do you do to help people stay connected to your church during the week?
What’s missing from this communication strategy list?
Download a FREE Strategic and Dynamic Communication Checklist to assess your churches communication strategy: Church Communication Checklist.
I get a lot of help and inspiration from these Church Communication Leaders:
- Rich Birch and Unseminary.com
This February, I’ve for the first time tackled preaching through the Song of Solomon. Sounded like a great idea last summer when I was planning sermon series for 2018, but as I got to digging in I began to think, “what have I gotten myself in to!?” Ha! As I studied, I began to see a beautiful love story outlined in the relationship between the bride and groom depicted in the Song. Here it is:
- God is the author of LOVE, ROMANCE, SEX, AND MARRIAGE. Genesis 2:18-25.
- Love is FOSTERED through God-given desire, attraction, and curiosity. Song of Solomon 1:2, 7-10; Proverbs 30:19.
- Love is FULFILLED in the marital relationship between man and woman. Song of Solomon 2:7; 3:7-11; 4:9-11; 5:1; Proverbs 5:19
- Love can be FRUSTRATING as two people bring their differences together and experience life’s difficulties. Song of Solomon 5:2-3; Proverbs 17:1; 21:9; 25:24
- The beauty of Love is found in FAITHFULNESS. Song of Solomon 7:1-2; 8:6-7; Proverbs 5:18; Ecclesiastes 9:9
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
And I’m glad to be living this story out with my bride of 18 years now (valentine of 21 years). Thinking about our story, here’s my Valentine’s Day letter to my valentine:
God created you just for me. Light shined from heaven and music started playing in my head the first time I saw you. You were different from anyone I had ever met. As I got to know you, the curiosity and desire to know more about you never dulled. Separation from you scared me because it made me feel incomplete. Our wedding day still seems like the best dream I’ve ever had. My every wish and idea about love has been fulfilled in this relationship. There has never been one day that I have regretted taking you as my wife. My heart still leaps when you walk into the room and my mind remains ever curious about your heart and your thoughts on everything. We’ve faced our share of frustrations with this life, with no doubt more trials and difficulties to come. I look forward to growing old with you and experiencing the beauty of faithfulness. Thank you for being my valentine and my wife. Thank you for putting up with the frustrations caused by me. Thank you for the promise of life long love. Thank you for making faithfulness easy and longed for. Happy 21st Valentine’s day!
What’s your Love Story? Can you see your story in the Song of Solomon? Take time to write it out. Identify gaps and close them.
Pastor Charles Starnes went home to be with the Lord on December 29th, 2017. He served as Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Slidell for 32 years. During that time the church baptized 485 new believers and added 733 other members to their roles. They also gave over $1.5 million to the Cooperative Program and other missions causes. I remember Bro. Charles as a great encourager of church planters, which included me, after moving to St. Tammany Parish in 2001 to plant a church about 35 minutes from Calvary. Under Bro. Charles’ leadership Calvary was part of planting six new churches, including the first Hispanic SBC Church on the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain. I’ll never forget what he said at the constitution service of one of those church plants, Thompson Road Baptist Church in West Slidell. He said,
“Everyone always makes a big deal about Calvary planting churches. Thanks for the kind words, but I just thought that planting churches and missions is what every church was supposed to be doing.”
On another occasion he said it like this:
“Everybody makes a big deal about Calvary being part of planting churches. I always say, I didn’t know it was optional.”
Grateful for Bro. Charles and his vision for multiplication and encouragement for church planting everywhere. May his tribe increase.
The Christian life is meant to be lived out in relationships. Here are five key relationships for every Christ Follower:
Right Church | My On Mission Family that I pool my gifts, energy, and resources with for the expansion of God’s kingdom.
Small Group | My Circle of 8-12 friends that I grow with and care for on a regular basis.
Prayer Partner(s) | My smaller circle of 2-3 close friends that know my struggles and prayer needs
My Mentor / Spiritual Father(s) or Mother(s) | Someone ahead of me in the journey that I can learn from along the path of spiritual fruitfulness.
Mentee / Person(s) I am Discipling | Someone I’m ahead of in the journey that I can help along the path of spiritual fruitfulness
These relationships have been so key for me as a believer. Looking through this list, I see faces that make me smile. So many on mission friends that have shaped me at church, in small groups, close confidential prayer partners, spiritual fathers, and now people I get the privilege of helping to grow. Not sure where I’d be without these relationships.
If you’re missing out on one of these key relationships, ask God to direct you to or send you to the right church, a circle of friends, a prayer partner, a spiritual father, and/or someone to disciple today.
Relationships are the most important part of life. The ability or inability to get along with and influence people will determine our effectiveness at work, our fruitfulness in Christian service, and our legacy in our homes. So much is at stake. And we’re planting seeds through our relationships with the next generation. They are learning from us. God’s word has a great deal to say about relationships. At this point, I’ve found it better than any self-help book on the shelves. Our church is currently studying the book of James and we took some time to dig into what James says about relationships.
Three Roots of Great Relationships
A tree or plant is only as strong as its root system. And some roots are seen, but most are not. Great relationships are born out of something unseen by most. It’s the character traits that are in our hearts toward others. James points to three key roots that we must have to build and maintain great relationships:
1. INITIATIVE TAKING LOVE | “Love your neighbor as yourself” James 2:8; 15
This is a profound line from the Old Testament that Jesus commended, calling it the second greatest commandment. When we have needs, we work to have them met. When I’m hungry, I go find food. When I’m hurting, I go find meds. When I’m cold, I go find warmth. We take initiative to meet our own needs. Jesus taught that we should extend that to others we are in relationship with as well. The word for love is AGAPE, which is that initiative taking, self-sacrificing love that Jesus modeled for us in giving His life. He saw our great need and did what had to be done, to help us overcome our sin and death and separation from God. It’s a reminder that love INITIATES and SACRIFICES and FINDS A WAY to meet the needs of others.
One of the things I seldom hear truly on Mission Christians say is, “I would have helped but no one asked me.” To Be On Mission is to, out of love, be an initiator of ministry and service toward others.
2. COMPASSION AND MERCY | “Mercy triumphs over judgment” James 2:13
Why do we prioritize our own needs, loving ourselves? Because we feel them. They are dynamic and present. Having compassion and mercy means we feel the needs of others along with our own in a dynamic and present way. And Agape love leads us to react and serve and give and encourage.
But there is more to mercy than just a feeling. The definition: compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.
Mercy means even when I know something about them or have something I can use against them or don’t really like them or have a right to hold a grudge against them, I still am willing to love them and show them grace. That’s what God, in Christ did for us, and that’s what he desires for us to extend to others.
3. WISDOM | “the gentleness that comes from wisdom” James 3:13
Wisdom is seeing life from God’s perspective. Relationships can entangle us in worldly, fleshly thinking like nothing else. That’s why anger, abuse, and division are so prevalent. When relationships get tough and dirty, we do too. However, if I could see God’s perspective, I could see the bigger picture, the possible solutions, the deeper reasons for the conflict and adjust my life to avoid the traffic jams and potholes of anger, abusive language, and division. And God’s perspective helps us know our place as well. We should approach all our relationships from a humble vantage point that says, “I’m flawed, you’re flawed. We all need mercy, grace, forgiveness. I might as well try to make life better and easier on people. We’re all in this together.”
Initiative Taking Love, Compassion and Mercy, Wisdom from Above. These three things applied to our relationships will bring about fruitfulness, effectiveness, and leave a legacy of peace.
Hear the audio of this study at Bridge Church HERE.