Archive for July, 2008

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CAN WE AFFORD TO PLANT 50 MORE CHURCHES?

July 30, 2008

The shared goal of the Great Lakes Region is 50 more churches by 2013  (swallow hard).   At an average outside funding cost of $200,000 per start that computes to a 10 million dollar project.   Can we do this?   A few thoughts to put this price tag in perspective.

1.  With 50,000 confessing members in the Great Lakes Region if each one gave $40 a year we could fund the movement.   Some will not be able to do that, others can, still others can do more.   This is doable!  As the saying goes, you swallow an elephant one bite at a time!   However, people will not part with that modest amount without a clear and compelling reason.

2. $40 bucks a year is small change in the grand scheme of things yet a clear case is required to release those dollars.   Increasingly we need to look at funding from the perspective of stewardship development.  Why….why is a new church in East Overshoe Michigan a wise stewardship choice by a person who is seeking to grow in the grace of giving?   Why….why is the plan and the person “right” for the opportunity?   What….what are the benchmarks that will assure us we are making the progress that is needed?

3.  Planters must increasingly be stewardship prompters.  As the need for new donor money increases the need for planter involvement in fund development will increase.  People give to people.   Donors want to know who is leading the charge and planters increasingly will be involved in relating to donors.

4.  New churches  must own the vision for the next wave of plants.   I was delighted recently to receive a significant check from Alas De Aguila  in as part of their “giving back to the movement” in planting.   Many new starts do not participate in this kind of contribution because their vision easily is set too low.  A perspective to resource scarcity takes control!

The truth remains…there is no shortage of resources…only a shortage of stewards.   Paul charged Timothy in I Timothy 6:18 to “command those who are rich to be generous…”.   Stewardship is not a natural behavior.  It requires prompting.    We can afford this!

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St. Paul I am not. However….

July 15, 2008

During the summer months I try to connect with each of our church planters (this is getting harder as the numbers swell) and “check in” on how things are going on their turf.   Like St. Paul, these are my mission journeys to visit the churches and I really enjoy connecting with outstanding Kingdom advance leaders.

I said, “like St. Paul”.   St. Paul I am not.   However, there are things I observe that may be worth noting.

1.  Many of us are doing well and encouraged with having found a sustainable and fruitful ministry.  It is great to see the results of hard work and steady efforts bear fruit.  🙂   Some of you are seeing a time of fruitfulness that has been long awaited.   Others are just hitting a plateau and are seeing the price tag that goes with the next step forward.   For still others they are working at nailing down a sustainable equation for the place they want to minister in.   These are not “cookie cutter” formulas but we are increasingly aware of the need to find a sustainable pace and sustainable base from from which to do ministry.

2.  Several of us are struggling with staffing issues.  Be sure to re read the chapter in Nebel and Rohrmayer called “Misfiring on Hiring”.   The danger of killing a planting movement through professionalizing leadership as well as the lack of clarity on what are the key functions of a staff person (mobilizing more leaders!) will get us in trouble!

3. Many of you are thinking about next moves to multiply.  I was delighted particularly with Carlos Devetac who is exploring launching a planting training group in Detroit to multiply Hispanic churches in coming months!  Many of you are hard wired to be “starters” and need to keep doing that.   In partnership with good organizers and managers you can release your gift with vigor.   We need your spark!

4.  A good number of planters are working hard on community development efforts that will be models for others.  Keep pioneering in these areas.  We want to hold up your good work as you see progress.

5.  Several of you are increasingly aware of the need to do discipleship development in a more explicit way in your work.  This is evidenced by immature believers who cannot “self feed and self care” from the Bible on their own or who are not sharing the desire to do evangelism with you.    Neil Cole has given us a great tool in his Life Transformation Groups that I again commend.   This little tool if cultivated can multiply your discipleship and evangelism energy many times over!   Ask for details.

St. Paul I am not.  However….

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Summer Baptism…is your plant getting enough water?

July 7, 2008

Here are some pictures from Toby Gruppen.   The Holland plant celebrated with 8 baptism’s yesterday!   New Community in Lawton reports baptisms taking place this Sunday July 13th.   Very cool!

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BIG STORY…what James Choung learned about evangelism and contemporary altrusim

July 5, 2008

James Choung is a campus minister with IVCF in San Diego with a keen insight. After paying attention to the perspectives of current students he tried a new method of personal evangelism.

The method he was trained to use tended to be very egocentric. It’s about my life and my purpose. The crusade 4 laws. A different approach is to focus on the larger drama of redemption and appeals to contemporary altruism. Choung uses 4 circles to tell the story.

First circle says that God created a good world in every way (with a Buddhist you already have a discussion). Second circle says that all of God’s creation has been broken. Third circle says that Christ has come to restore God’s world to it’s intended design beginning with individual people and the problem of sin. Fourth circle is to say that God has enlisted his restored people to join him in mission to the world.

Nothing new here…other than an emphasis. Choung found that students respond significantly to the idea of bringing good into the world and that the “big story” of redemption gave more voice to this. While students did tend to wrestle more with the 3rd circle….that Christ was essential to God’s restoring work in the world…he has seen significant results.

For details…along with the symbols Choung uses in telling the 4 circles of the big story, see the current issue of Christianity Today.