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Point Forward with Acts of Service

forwardThrough our lives, Jesus is showing the world the kind of king he is and the nature of the kingdom he rules. As his servants, we point forward with our acts of service to a far better world where Jesus’s rule will be experienced everywhere. Every one we serve experiences a taste of life in the kingdom.

Jeff Vanderstelt in Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life

>> Check out my Previous post about Saturate.

What if: New Resident Welcome Baskets #Outreach #Multihousingministry #Onmission

Lot’s of people on the move in the summer. If you live in a growing community, what if you equipped your church to be on the lookout for new neighbors & the bless them with a basket of goodies & info about your church or churches in the community. Would also be cool to partner with area Multi-Housing facilities to provide baskets for their new residents. Here’s a list put together by Angie McGinty & the Creative Team at our church for last summers New Resident Welcome Baskets:

  • Basket (I have been lucky enough to find some the perfect size in the dollar section at Target, but I think they are out now)
  • Archer Farms Brand (@Target): Box of cheddar sourdough cheese straws and caramel macadamia popcorn in the big clear container (by chips). I picked these because they look nicer and more gourmet if you will.
  • Some type of gender neutral note pad (I found ones with magnets in the Target dollar section)
  • A nice pen to go with notepad (I usually only get these if they have some in the dollar section…nice pens are not cheap)
  • Antibacterial hand soap (I get the nice ones from Bath and Body Works..they were running a special for 7 of them for $20 but they may not be running that anymore. If not, I know that Target has some nice ones like the organic hand soaps) I think adding a nice soap with a great smell really makes the baskets kick up a notch as opposed to just some random everyday soap.)
  • A nice dish towel/hand towel. You may be able to find some cute Spring ones on sale at Hobby Lobby right now. I got a neutral color from Target for a few bucks.
  • Thick wire edge ribbon to tie around the basket (Hobby Lobby has great ribbon and usually on sale)

Cost of each basket: less than $25

What if…

  • Every multi-housing complex had a partnering church to welcome new residents.
  • We noticed & took responsibility for new movers into our neighborhoods & cultivated relationships during this important season in their lives.
  • You equipped a team in your church to wow new residents with a nice basket of goodies for their new home.
  • God moved someone into your community & your kindness led them to open their heart & eyes to God’s purpose for the first time.

What else would you include? Does your church do anything like this?

8 Places of Engagement to Plant Seeds and Cultivate Relationships in Your Community #ChurchPlanting

In Church Planting, the ability to see the possibilities for relationships, ministry, & engagement in the community will determine much for the church’s future impact in the community. Engaging the community is fun, easy in most places (especially in the south), & can lead to many seeds planted, if you’re willing to risk & build relationships.

Here are 8 Places of Engagements in almost every community that I’ve found WIDE OPEN to relationship with a church. This is a continuation of the series Planting Seeds & Cultivating Relationships in Church Planting (Part 1, Part 2).

Members of Stillwater Church in Hammond pass out healthy snacks to kids getting off the bus at a local mobile home park.

Members of Stillwater Church in Hammond pass out healthy snacks to kids getting off the bus at a local mobile home park.

11. Multi-Housing Communities – Multi-Housing Complexes offer many potential points of contacts with all different kinds of people. One easy, low cost, highly relational way to make some people smile & start a conversation is to pick up some boxes of snacks & juice boxes & setup at a common bus stop at an apartment complex or trailer park after school. Our church does this the week before kid friendly events that we’d like to promote. Stillwater Church in Hammond has seen a new church birth, utilizing the after school bus stop as a primary way to make connections in two large mobile home parks in their area.

12. Community Agencies – Council on Aging, Volunteers of America, Boys & Girls Club, Local Fire Dept., Local Police Dept., Town Council, local Crisis Pregnancy Center, Mayor’s offices, local utility companies, Easter Seals, Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity, Neighborhood Revitalization committees, local Work Release Program. These are a handful of the community agencies that our church plants have worked with that exist in almost every community in North America. Great partners, often looking for volunteers, & often wondering why churches don’t offer to help. And believe it or not, we’ve found no problems from most community agencies with the expectation that we as a church would also be sharing the gospel with people we serve. Projects, partners, points of contact with the community is a phone call away.

13. Area Daycares – Private daycares are often open to allowing churches to make contact with families they serve. We have built relationships with daycares in our area that have allowed us to come in & do Gospel centered activities with kids. We also send posters & invites to any kid friendly special event (Easter Egg Hunt, Trunk or Treat, etc.) to local daycares & have found that many of them will post them on a bulletin board & some will pass them out to parents picking up their kids. Start by making a list of area daycares & consider including them in service opportunities & invites to special events.

14. Rec Fields – Another great way to both invest in the community & get some name recognition is to get a sign on the fences of local recreation fields. $200-500 can get your logo, name, website in front of a large % of unchurched people in your community. And the interaction with key leaders in the recreation programs can be a great thing for your personal network as a church planter as well. I’ve also seen churches serve rec fields in other ways: Inflatables & face painting on opening day, free snow cones, free souvenir pictures. I’ve also thought about the possibility of offering a Sunday morning worship time at our local ball field with 100’s pouring in every weekend for travel ball leagues.

Bridge Church in Madisonville, doing free balloon animals & face painting at a local festival in 2014.

Bridge Church in Madisonville, doing free balloon animals & face painting at a local festival in 2014.

15. Community Festivals – In Louisiana, there is some kind of festival going almost every weekend. Festivals offer a variety of opportunities for churches to engage the people of the community. First & maybe most importantly, the impact of getting to know leaders of festivals on most occasions also means getting to know key leaders in the city or town. Getting involved lets them know that you’re on their side & want to see the community succeed. A few ways that I’ve seen churches reach out to festivals: Serve by picking up trash all day, Face Painting, Kids Games, sponsor entertainment, Free Souvenir pictures, Festival volunteers, Setup & tear down. Many other ways to engage people. Remember your Invite Cards (see part 1), go unselfishly to serve the community, & have fun! Louisiana Festivals are the best!

16. Funeral Homes – Outreach to funeral homes? As a brand new church planter in the community, as I was networking, I stopped by several area funeral homes with a card & an offer to preach the funeral for anyone that didn’t have a pastor already. To my surprise, I soon found myself doing 4-5 funerals every week. Which proved to be emotionally exhausting, but served as a great way to connect with families at a time they needed the Gospel & relationships built around faith more than ever. People will NEVER forget you, when you’re able to be there with them in the valley of the shadow of death.

17. Community Networks – A network is a group or system of interconnected people. They are everywhere in your community & most are ready & willing to connect new people to the group. Get your church plant involved in the local Chamber of Commerce. Most have a Non-Profit membership stream & I’ve found that they love having churches involved. Early on in the life of one of our church plants, I joined what was called a BNI, or Business Network International. People paid to join a group that commits to help each other promote their respective businesses. They loved having a church in the group. Made all kinds of connections in that network. Church planting is about networking & you don’t have to recreate the wheel at the outset. Join the community networks & relationships will lead to seeds planted & opportunities to share the Gospel.

18. Local Hospitals – In the New Testament, we see Jesus often ministering to people at the point of illness, disease, & grief. There are several ways that a church plant can engage people at this point of need. Find out if the hospital has a volunteer chaplain program. In my community, our local baptist association has built this bridge to several local hospitals & pastors & lay people are trained & empowered to meet needs through chaplaincy work. Stock the Waiting rooms. Waiting rooms can be lonely, cold places. Get permission to put fruit baskets, magazines, fresh donuts, Bibles, or whatever you can in the waiting rooms. And don’t forget the gift of presence. Drop by & give the gift of a listening ear & encouraging words. One of my favorite servant evangelism projects is pick up a handful of gift cards to the nearest restaurants & drop by the ICU waiting room & give them away. Remember, this ministry is not about you! Only go if you can realistically put the needs of others first. This can be a great ministry for those with the gifts of mercy in your church plant.

What other Places of Engagement would you add to this list?

Not Life PLUS Mission, Life ON Mission

the secret to increasingly living our lives together on God’s mission is to move away from seeing discipleship as something that needs to be tacked onto an already busy schedule, toward seeing all of the normal stuff of life as full of opportunity for discipleship and growth in the gospel.

This is not a call to life plus mission; rather, it is a call to life on mission.

If life on mission, a life of discipleship, is too hard, or seems impossible with your schedule… Choose a different rhythm.

Ceasar Kalinowski, in Small is Big Slow is Fast: Living and Leading Your Family and Community on God’s Mission

Loving this book!

Jesus “was not seduced… He didn’t leverage” #leadlikeJesus

the key for the future of the Western Church is simple, but both profound and hard. The key is a powerful return to Jesus’ heart for making disciples, and multiplying them into missional leaders.

Think about how Jesus did his ministry. He preached God’s word to the multitudes, but was not seduced by the size and success of the crowds. He demonstrated the power of the Spirit through a miraculous ministry, yet he didn’t leverage it for his popularity. He moved on when he could have stayed and built momentum, and he continually prioritized his time, resources, teaching, and attention to a small group of leaders to whom he would one day hand the keys…

Jon Tyson, Multiplying Missional Leaders

8 Things You’ll Never Hear an On Mission Christian Say

There’s a marked difference between living the Christian life ON MISSION, & just going to church on Sunday’s. You can tell which side of this equation you’re living on by what comes out of your mouth (Matthew 12:34). Here’s some things I’ve said & heard others say when NOT on mission for God as a Christian:

Adventure1. “Christianity is boring.” Anybody that says Christianity is boring has never done a backyard bible club in a dangerous neighborhood, gave away food to someone in desperate need, watched a disabled person use a handicap ramp you just built for the first time, led someone to put their faith in Christ, ate something they weren’t sure of b/c to not do so would offend their foreign host, prayed with a coworker experiencing a storm in their life, etc., etc., etc. Life on mission is an adventure.

2. “I don’t know my spiritual gifts.” The On Mission Christian has either through trial & error or careful study & prayer discovered what God has gifted & called them to do. They do this b/c they understand that God has gifted & empowered every believer to do something. And to do nothing is not an option when we see the needs of the world & the great sacrifice of Christ.

3. “I would love to help, but nobody invited me.” Not that we shouldn’t make sure that everyone feels invited, but On Mission Christians tend to find a way to get in the middle of meeting needs for the good of others & glory of God. They’re not waiting around for an invitation.

4. “I would love to help, but I don’t know any people in need.” Being On Mission is a way of seeing the world. An On Mission Christian lives with a constant awareness of the needs around him/her. Wherever they are, they will find needs to be concerned about or met. The harder thing may be saying no to needs because it’s physically impossible to meet every one.

5. “I don’t feel like I’m being stretched in my faith.” If you live life on mission, you will regularly come to the end of yourself. That’s why Jesus promised His presence (Matthew 28:19-20) & power (Acts 1:8-10) to those who will take up his mission. Being on mission will take you out of your comfort zone & out of the limitations of your own ability. Hello FAITH, hello HOLY SPIRIT, hello SUPERNATURAL LIFE.

6. “You didn’t hear me say this but…” Gossip is one thing that threatens the mission of the church. The On Mission Christian is usually both too concerned about others & the unity of their church to engage in it, or just too busy to waste time with it. As one person said, “Those rowing the boat, do not have time to rock it.”

7. “The carpet/chairs/coffee/preacher/singing is too…” Little time or energy for criticism when you’re on mission either. The On Mission Christian will struggle to be concerned about small issues of esthetics around the building when there are people in need.

8. “My church isn’t meeting my needs.” The assumption here is that church & Christianity is about “my needs.” We do receive so much personal reward & benefit from being a Christian & the church should certainly consider the needs of people as it strategizes & plans its ministries. But the On Mission Christian does not live with these assumptions at the forefront of their lives. Paul was clear in Philippians 2:3-8. The Christian life, patterned after Jesus, is about the needs of others & sacrificing ourselves for the need of others.

If your Christian life is boring, faithless, about you, filled with criticism of others, etc. Let me challenge you to get involved in the next ministry or mission opportunity you hear about & get to know true Christianity which is about life on mission with God in the world.

What else would you add to this list?

The Recipe for On Mission Living

Heart + Eyes + Imagination + Action



Heart – Desire for God & Others

We are on mission for something. Often it’s for ourselves. Getting our heart set on God’s purposes is always the first step in life on mission. Get started with 1 Peter 3:10-12.

What issues of the heart are keeping you from being on mission for God & others?

Eyes – Awareness of the Needs Around Us

The Bible says Jesus “saw the crowds” & then “felt compassion” Matthew 9:36. Are you aware of the many needs around you? If you think you have to travel to a distant place to find human need, then your eyes are not open. Look around.

Imagination – Ideas to Engage the Needs Around Us

Many of our failures in mission as churches are failures of imagination. We can’t imagine ourselves being a solution for our communities. I pray for the innovation & courage of the men who so wanted their crippled friend to see Jesus, that they climbed on top of the roof, ripped a hole in the roof, & lowered him down at Jesus’ feet. Mark 2:1-12.

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” May we not be bound by weak excuses & lack of imagination in reaching our communities.

Action – Implement & Execute Outreach Strategies

Many have a heart for God, are aware of the needs, even have the ideas, but never launch & take action to reach out. Take out your calendar & write down the next date you intend on inviting a neighbor for dinner or coffee. When is your church’s next outreach event? When is your unchurched friend having surgery? Who is in transition that you can bless? Mission needs a calendar & a plan of action!

Write down these symbols in a prominent place & use them to pursue life on mission, for others.

Being On Mission Stinks

On of my favorite Proverbs is Proverbs 14:4, “Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.”

In other words, if you don’t have livestock, you don’t have any poop that stinks up the place & has to be scooped, but you can’t expect to have a great farm without hardworking animals.

This is true of life on mission as well. Me centered Christianity has taught us that God wants us to be happy, to give us a peace-filled life, safe from danger, & being nice & making it to church to support the pastor, cause he’s working so hard for God, is our role in the kingdom. That attitude is just like being without livestock on a farm. Don’t expect fruit, don’t expect a harvest. When people get on mission for God together it will not always be neat, clean, or smell good. It will be messy.

Life on mission will be messy, because sin is messy. And if you’re in the business of rescuing sinners, expect a foul smell. Addictions, foolishness, pain, abuse, poverty, broken relationships, hopelessness. Those are the things you’ll find out there on mission for God. Stay away & you’ll have a cleaner, neater, smell good life, but don’t expect as much spiritual fruit.

Life on mission will be messy, because relationships are messy. We will have differences of opinion & awkward moments & bad days among us. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” and iron on iron creates sparks. If you avoid deep, gospel centered, mission driven relationships, you might have a cleaner, neater, smell good life, but don’t expect as much spiritual growth.

Life on mission will be messy, because of the cost. You will get taken advantage of. You will find yourself outside of comfort zones. You will have seasons of fruitlessness. You will experience rejection. “All those who live godly in Christ Jesus WILL BE persecuted.” Christianity that cost you nothing is a mission-less Christianity that doesn’t find its root in the way of Jesus & the Apostles. Stay away from spending yourself for Jesus & His mission & life may be cleaner, neater, & smell better.

If you want to pursue God’s mission & produce fruit for His kingdom, give up on having a clean, neat, smell good life all of the time. It may require a shovel, old clothes, lots of hand soap, etc. But you can expect the joy of the Lord, the provision of strength from His Spirit, the promise of hearing him say “well done,” the fruit of lives changed, growth & maturity, & the peace of knowing God is using you for His purposes.

What does your stable look like? Our communities desperately need On Mission Christians that don’t shy away from the messiness of sin, relationships, or sacrifice if we’re going to have a harvest of souls.

Church Multiplication INSIDE


Shane O’Hara (left) director of Team 518. Dave (right), Inmate Chaplain & Church Planter at a South Louisiana Jailhouse.

Dave is now a hero of mine. Met him this week and learned about his church starting endeavor INSIDE one of South Louisiana’s Jailhouses. He served there as an inmate chaplain. He will be released on Friday and will continue his mission on the OUTSIDE. Pray for Dave and others like him who are overcoming and helping others overcome through prison ministry. Pray for the many Inmate Chaplains, reaching out to those INSIDE like none of us can.

If you’re interested in joining men like Dave and being ON MISSION to those in prison, shoot me a line. Laborers are needed to facilitate Celebrate Recovery, Fatherhood classes, Financial Planning classes, Discipleship courses, or help with churches starting INSIDE.

“I was in prison and you came to me” ~ Jesus, Matthew 25:42

Discipleship = Relationship + Mission

One way we see New Testament Christianity framed in the ministry of Christ is in the connection between relationship and mission.

Mark 3:14 says,

“he (Jesus) appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him (RELATIONSHIP) and he might send them out to preach (MISSION).”

Then speaking to his post-resurrection followers, Jesus says in John 20:21-22,

“As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you (MISSION). And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit'” (RELATIONSHIP).

Then before ascending to heaven, he gave his followers their marching orders for the rest of time in Matthew 28:19-20,

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you (MISSION). And behold, I am with you always to the end of the age (RELATIONSHIP).”

To be in RELATIONSHIP w/Jesus, means to be listening to His voice through regular time with Him and to be empowered by and dependent upon His presence and not our own strength. To be ON MISSION w/Jesus means to continue His work of teaching, proclaiming, healing, having compassion, and sending (see Matthew 9:35-38) and walking in obedience to Him.

We must have both to have a robust, growing, multiplying faith and church. At times in my life, I’ve lived with one without the other. Emphasizing only relationship meant for me becoming a Sunday morning Christian. Making Christianity only about knowing the Bible and being at Christian events. Eventually RELATIONSHIP will dry up and Christianity will become RITUAL and RELIGION. Our relationship with Christ, will lead us to be ON MISSION with Him. Charles Spurgeon may have said it best when he said, “Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter.”

I’ve also emphasized MISSION at the expense of RELATIONSHIP in my Christian life, leading to frustration and near burnout as I try to do God’s work in man’s strength, or legalism as I try to DO MORE for God, SO THAT I can be an acceptable Christian. His Mission can only be accomplished in His power. It was that power that turned the frightened, locked away disciples into a missionary force that turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6). And only Christ makes us ACCEPTABLE to God. There is nothing more that we can do to deal with our sin or the worlds. Christ finished the work. Our only task now is intentional obedience, surrender, and dependence upon Him for this mission.

So, are you in RELATIONSHIP w/Christ? If so, are you ON MISSION w/Christ in this world? Healthy disciples grow as these two collide. Church leader, does your church provide opportunities for developing a healthy relationship with Christ as well as opportunities to be on His mission in the world?

This weekend, our church will hold our second Faith in Action Sunday of 2012. Every time there is a 5th Sunday in a month (four times per year) we take the weekend and provide opportunities for people to be on mission in our community. It’s been a great way to emphasize sending and mission among our community of disciples. Check out more info and our Faith in Action itinerary at

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