Category Archives: Sending Capacity

7 Reasons to Make Ramp Building Part of Your Local Ministry

IMG_6723One of the first projects our church did together when we got started was build a wheelchair ramp. We’re blessed with men with the tools & know how & opportunities for this work is plentiful in every community. Here’s 7 reasons why I love Ramp Building as part of a church’s local ministry:

  1. Access & the Gospel. There are elderly & handicapped people who feel like captives in their own homes due to lack of access. We’ve even had several people in our community that couldn’t get out of their homes without help from the Fire Dept. What a great way to be good news & share the good news with a family & neighborhood. Access to God was built through Christ (1 Peter 3:18).
  2. Send the carpenter types. “I never knew I had anything to offer to the church” – a carpenter type after completing a ramp project through our church in 2010. If you’re thinking about Creating Sending Capacity & Sending the Whole Church, you must think about projects for the construction gifted men in the congregation. And some men in the community jump on these projects before jumping into attending church.  
  3. Stimulate the local economy. Ramps cost approximately $25 per foot. $800-$1,200. Buy local. Don’t ask for a discount. But be thankful & promote the business when they give it.
  4. Projects for Real Men. What was the last thing your church did to promote authentic manhood? Construction, Power Tools, Sweat, Rescuing the Helpless, etc. Ramp & light construction ministry bring out some of the best in men & gives them great opportunity for fellowship around a challenging mission.
  5. Father & Son Projects. Looking forward to my boys being a little older so they can get more involved in ramp building, but I’ve enjoyed seeing a few Father & Son moments on ramp projects through my church. Also, have had great opportunities to explain the why behind church & ministry to my boys through describing the life situations of people we have served through construction ministry.
  6. Partnerships with local agencies. Your local Council on Aging, Easter Seals, Parish or County Social Services Dept., local Fire Depts. & others can give you a list to get started on. Also, chances are, your church has elderly, widows, people with handicaps, with access issues in their homes now. “do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” Galatians 6:10.
  7. Monuments to a Caring Church. Ramp building makes for long memories in a community. “That church came and built that.” Memories that make it harder for people in neighborhoods to say that nobody cares about them. That means we’ve brought hope & made ourselves available to meet other needs.

Here’s some good tips on doing construction as a ministry & how to get started from our 2012 Faith in Action Roundtable.

A few ramp projects completed this summer by the men of Bridge Church & our partners. The first was for an elderly deaf man in a wheelchair. The second was for a member of a sister congregation who had fallen & broken her leg & now faced some disabilities.

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Why is Local Outreach So Hard? 20 Reasons:

As church attendance declines, we must look at our communities as a mission field. Why don’t we? Here’s some reasons, assumptions, & excuses I’ve heard, said, felt as a church leader:

  1. As churches, we have turned inward & focused on campus.
  2. As churches, we have “hired it done” by church staff instead of equipping people for the work of local outreach.
  3. Witnessing means inviting people like me to my church.
  4. The compelling call to “Go” (Matthew 28:19-20) begins at the borders of our own country.
  5. Assumption: “Everybody has a church already.”
  6. Assumption: “They know where we are if they need us.”
  7. Assumption: “The needy around here get plenty of help from the government.”
  8. Assumption: “We don’t have enough money.”
  9. Assumption: “The city won’t let us share the gospel.”
  10. As church leaders, we feel tension between “Go. It’s about the people out there” & “Come. What’s going on in here is vital.”
  11. It takes a lot of energy to maintain the on campus ministry.
  12. If we challenge people to reach out & serve in non-traditional ways they may go to another church.
  13. Local outreach = Advertising.
  14. Excuse: “Our area has some dangerous neighborhoods.”
  15. Excuse: “We will one day.”
  16. Excuse: “We tried that already.”
  17. Excuse: “We might get taken advantage of.”
  18. Excuse: “My people are not ready.”
  19. Sinful unspoken assumption: “We don’t really want ‘those people’ coming to our church.”
  20. Sinful unspoken assumption: “It won’t help our bottom line.”

What other reasons, excuses, assumptions could you add to this list? How does your church reach out to your local community?

How Does a Pastor Create Sending Capacity?

“The greatness of a church is not in her seating capacity, but in her sending capacity” ~Rick Warren.yellow_mail_send

I’ve heard this saying over & over again for the past 15 years or so from Pastors and church leaders from all different perspectives of ministry. But I haven’t seen much about how to expand the SENDING capacity of a local church or a real change in strategy to developing SENDING capacity. Many pastors are frustrated because of the inability of the church to penetrate the lost culture. Cycles of transfer growth are disheartening to many, both OUT (people leaving one church to join another church that has more or different) and IN (the only growth being people coming from other churches).

Let me suggest we must add a SENDING mindset to our idea about church life. Recently I got calls from two churches that are large & “successful” asking what church I knew that could do ______ ministry, because they didn’t have anybody that could do it. I thought, you’ve got more people than 99% of the churches in the area and you don’t have anybody that can be sent into the community to meet a need? The answer: Yes they do! Now, I know every church can’t meet every need. That’s why we network & affiliate. And I know that some pastors are trying to send, but the season the church is in may make it difficult. But the challenge is, do we see the church as a body to be sent? Do we see mission as a necessary component to spiritual & church growth? Do we see sending capacity as a measure of success? Do we see the people of the church as ambassadors of Christ to bless the community? Do we see our role as an equipper of the saints to do the work of the ministry? It’s a mindset.

Here’s a simple mindset exercise that I was taught by mentor & friend Jim Gerlach that helps me remember my role as a sender/equipper. In preparation, am I thinking:

They’re coming, how do I get ready? or They’re not coming, how do I get ready?

In the first question, we’re thinking inwardly, how do I communicate the message to these people I know, how to meet their needs best, my presentation, what people will think of ______, making sure everything’s perfect, how do I shield criticism, etc. Necessary & not bad stuff. But the second statement pushes me to recognize the reality: there’s a world out there that is unreached, so how do I get the message to them? This helps me shift my thinking from meeting these people’s needs, to sending these people on mission / equipping these people for mission in our world. How can I get the message out creatively to different population segments? etc. Balancing these two questions is the work of the leader that desires to create sending capacity as seating capacity grows.

And in most of our communities unfortunately the second statement is coming true. They’re not coming. In my community, less than 10% attend an evangelical church. Most pastors are shocked at that stat. I was too, because I was so focused on getting ready for those that are coming. We must change our mindset if we will continue to push back darkness in our world.

How do you create sending capacity? What other questions should we be asking?

Assessing the Need for New Churches in the South

A common question I’m asked as a church planter and strategist: “Why do we need new churches when we have so many already?”

Stated in other, more direct ways:

  • “We’ve got that area covered already, there’s no need for a new church.”
  • “Planting a new church will make Pastors in the area feel unappreciated or like they’re not doing their job.”
  • “Why plant a new church when my church needs so much help?”
  • “Do we really need another ‘little’ church in this area?”
  • “Won’t a new church just take resources from other churches.”

These can be legitimate concerns, when brought with a kingdom mind set, and these concerns should be addressed by strategists and planters in the planning process. And I’m sure there have been occasions when for the sake of #’s we have ignored legitimate concerns and good questions from partners about the why for a new church in a given area. I’d really like to work through each of these concerns individually at some point but now I’m asking, what are the right questions and the key indicators of the need for new churches or ministries in the seemingly overchurched south?

  1. Is the community being transformed for the good or bad? Instead of starting by looking at ourselves (i.e. the existing churches in the community), maybe we should take a look at what’s happening in the lives of people in the area. Church planting should start with a desire to see the community transformed by the gospel. Is it happening as we need it to? Are we willing to admit that the task of transforming our community may be more than one church can handle? Are we committed to life change at all costs?
  2. Are there places where the Church is not? Flowing out of the first question, what do we find when we look at spheres of influence and places of engagement in the community? Are churches able and willing to engage the local schools, multi-housing complexes, business communities, correctional facilities, chat rooms, neighborhood associations, etc.?
  3. Are there population segments or people groups that are not being touched by the Gospel? Next, are there language, socioeconomic, or lifestyle groups, that are not being touched adequately by a consistent Gospel witness?
  4. What is God stirring up in and for this community? God is in the world reconciling people to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). What is He doing in this community in that regard? When our Father’s work includes stirring the heart of a church to multiply and send out its own to start a new church or launch a new campus or reach out to a population segment, we should not oppose what He is stirring. We can assess if this is a genuine call from God or a call to disgruntlement or if it is born out of divisiveness. We can also hold our planting teams accountable to be agents of transformation not division, focusing on where the church is not, and reaching out to unreached peoples.

Many Pastors, me included, tend to think about a new ministry or church through the lens of what it may cost us. What if we thought about it in terms of the great cost to those who may never hear the Gospel, or those who are going through life without the joy of a relationship with Christ, or those who are going through life’s challenges without a family of believers who can love and provide for them along the way? Can we look honestly at our communities and see the need and God’s activity if it’s there and then partner together to plant for God’s glory and the good of our communities?

Are there other good questions and key indicators as we plan to plant the Gospel in North America?

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