Archive for August, 2007


LANSING UPDATE….eye on Blacksoil

August 31, 2007

Many of us are following the recent murders in Lansing.    Two more in recent days just blocks from the home of Jeremy Dowsett and the ministry of Blacksoil.    The church has launched  prayer walks and services as a spiritual presence in the midst of the darkness.   While the police report they think they have found the “serial killer” there is still much fear and need.   Jeremy seeks our prayers.  


LAKESHORE UPDATE…eye on Muskegon Classis

August 31, 2007

I spent a chunk of yesterday in Grand Haven and Muskegon talking with RCA pastors about new developments.    John Kenny is the new pastor at First Grand Haven and has also taken the role of multiplication leader for Muskegon Classis.   Both positions have been vacant for a while so John is a welcome presence.  He comes to that role after serving as chaplain in the gulf war for a “hitch”.   He told of the incredible movement of the spirit in seeing many come to Christ with adult baptisms nearly every Sunday.    John is eager to see new starts in the classis will join point people in 7 other classes to lead multiplication.   You can send him a note of welcome and encouragement at     There is more…..

The cool thing here is that Todd Bush has seen great results in his efforts to plant New Life which is between Grand Haven and Muskegon.  New Life is growing and Todd is leading them toward purchase of land and hopes to break the 200 barrier this fall.  With that encouragement, John has opportunity to lead the classis to significant new steps in planting.    The three other RCA churches in Grand Haven are in pastoral transition such that there is opportunity for fresh voices to add to the energy too.      So…..if you know of planter wannabes who may live in the Muskegon Classis area (Grand Haven and north to Whitehall) we would love to start a conversation with them.     Things are happening….we are praying….  


Planter Math

August 28, 2007

Thom Rainer is the director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism and author of a slew of books on evangelism.    He has a knack for getting numbers to make a point.   So here goes….

64% of Americans born before 1946 profess Christian faith.

35% of Americans born between ’46 and ’64 profess Christian faith.

15% of Americans born between ’65 and ’76 profess Christian faith.

4% of Americans born between ’77  and ’94 profess Christian faith.

Numbing numbers…..and then he adds that 95% of congregations spend their resources seeking to attract an ever dwindling number of nominal christian people (35% perhaps?) while perhaps 5% of congregations actually try to reach those far from God (65%).     A special breed of pastor is needed to pay attention to those who are farthest away.    We have all said it is pioneer work we are in but this definitely underscores that fact.  So……Thanks, planters….you are leading the way!



August 23, 2007

Update from Lansing and Jeremy Dowsett.    Last night a prayer vigil, hosted by Blacksoil Church in the wake of 3 murders, drew nearly 100 people and the attention of all three media networks.   They even put the church planter  Jeremy on camera….so Blacksoil got some visibility.    What a great example of ministry…to be rooted in the soil of community….to be salt and light where there is fear and pain.   This is our vision for planting…to bring the very presence of Jesus into the corners and shadows.   Lead on Jeremy!    Continue to pray for Blacksoil as they grow a spiritual space in the center of the city.



August 21, 2007

Many of us may recall doing church FOR inmates.   We showed up with a traveling band and preacher.   They watched and we performed.   Now the State of Michigan is opening the door to explore doing church WITH inmates.   Facts are the sheer costliness of incarceration (about $40,000 per year per inmate) has the Department of Corrections nearly at the top of the state budget.   With that factor plus a desire to reduce repeat offenders there is an openess to planting churches behind bars.   Currently there is a successful model in South Dakota that has shown the kind of results the State likes but it requires the hiring of a pastor from the outside who will work with the inmates.   My wonderings go to whether this is possible with the pastor being from the inside.  Sooooooo…..   The inmates are running the ministry!  Yup.    We are casting around for interest so here is another attempt.   Let me know if you have a heart for this kind of thing…


Thrive! 2007

August 17, 2007

Please visit the “Events” page for new information about the upcoming THRIVE event!    THRIVE is bootcamp for church planters and more.   It’s a chance to build relationships, to discover a community of called Kingdom pioneers.  It is also a “dense dump” of wisdom and critical insights for planters.     There is scholarship money for THRIVE.   Contact your regional or classis leadership for details!



August 16, 2007

Darkness and light.   In seminary that was a curious dualism and literary style unique to Johns writings.    For Jeremy Dowsett darkness and light is a reality just outside of his front door.

Lansing has seen a string of murders in the last couple weeks that is sobering.   One took place in the neighborhood where a new church is struggling to spring up.   Black Soil is a plant that is born amidst a battle.   When you are in that context, things look different.     The subject of “spiritual warfare” can sound really shrill and dramatic.    Ministry is tough all over and nobody gets a pass on adversity.   So perhaps it is best to let Black Soil prompt us all to reframe what we are living through.     Thomas Merton puts it this way…..”Prayer looses it’s true character when it becomes busy full of ulterior purposes and committed to programs that are beneath it’s own level”.    Prayer has found it’s level in the battle between darkness and light.   Death in the city and the birth of a church.  

Black Soil will be hosting a prayer vigil in Lansing on Wednesday August 22 at 6:30.    Contact Jeremy for details at