I am a Continuationist. I pray to God for his intervention in the daily and mundane. If He never moves in a tangible spiritual way post-salvation, I will live. But, I thank God that Jesus is moved by the feelings of my infirmity. I believe that God is not cruel…that He would simply feel my pain and weakness and does nothing about it. I look to God for healing. I look to God for wisdom, discernment, and for my future.
I believe that God is very involved in my life. I am dependent on His presence. This past year, a mom in our church had a baby born 2 weeks before the age of viability. God did a miracle in that baby. He was at church Sunday, a big healthy boy. I believe that was the continuing work of the Holy Spirit. That was awesome.
With that said, I know that we will not always be healed. The Bible shares that we all have an appointment with death. Still, I confess as a continuationist, I do not understand how some people are not healed when it just feels like they should be. My friend, Dave Crowley is going through a tough journey. Still I trust God. Keep praying for my friend. Thanks for taking a look at my theology as I actively work it out in Word and in experience.
Hey. Its Monday am. My phone is off and I’m kicking around on the couch. We’re getting ready for a little family outing. So, I figured I’d do some spring cleaning on my blog, sweep some stuff away and make some additions before we head out. Really quick, I:
- added a blog search on the left side bar. It should make finding content on my blog easier.
- added a technorati link in the left side bar to show what blogs link here.
- added a few bloggers I met at Exponential: Matt Payne, Andrew Jones, Drew Goodmanson.
- I also noticed that Relevant Christian recently linked to me. I hit them back with a reciprocal link…nice blog guys. And, of course, Todd Rhoades….thanks for the link. I hit you back as well.
I was in Drew Goodmanson and Brad Abare’s session at Exponential. Some of this material was presented then. Check out the powerpoint/pdf that went with the full session on internet evangelism. (source: drew goodmanson)
Today, Michael John Stanley lead worship. That dude can jam. It was a great day. I enjoyed taking a break from our Losing My Religion/James series to share my heart. The only downer is that our theater seems to have a problem figuring out our A/C unit. Seriously, I think I’m on the verge of going postal over how hot our auditorium has been.
A couple weeks ago, I shared some pics from our auditorium. Here are some of our other environments: lobby, hallway, and one of the nurseries. I think our volunteers are pretty awesome to pull this stuff off every week.
I guess Bill Hybels had a beef with the video because of Mark’s perpective on women in ministry. I too find Scriptural support for girls to be pastors or even Apostles. Nonetheless, Mark Driscoll brings home a message to men on church planting in my kind of language. He makes me want to go fight someone. Mark is leading the way, drawing people to the central message of Jesus in a city where God is largely unrecognized.
Ryan Hartstock is a creative guy at 4Corners Church in Cincinnati, OH. He does some of the most creative church stuff you can find (see his flickr). He’s a blogger. I didn’t know that. But, I do now. As you can see he is now firmly installed on my blogroll. I just wonder when Ben will blog…or does he?
Mark Rodriguez, the worship pastor at Calvary Chapel Miami Lakes, just up the road from us was interviewed by the Miami Herald for an article about Hispanics experiencing God outside the confines of the Catholic Church. Its a good article that also talks about the growing influence of Hispanic Pentecostal Churches like El Rey Jesus and Alpha and Omega.
"The only thing standing between you and your destiny is the tough decision you are unwilling to make."
I wish I could remember who said this. How many huge, mission-oriented opportunities are out there for you? Having trouble getting to them for the clutter? Consider eliminating your clutter to get to your basic life mission.
I find that clutter happens and becomes somehow important. The next thing you know a garage no longer has space for a car, a person has no time for God, a life has no space for others.
Ships were not made for harbors. So, as much as I enjoy hanging with a bunch of guys that talk and dream about the same stuff, it is time to go back to sea. Homestead is calling. And, in all honesty, Christian subcultures can be overwhelming…a seemingly safe bubble of good little Christians.
I can’t wait to get back to Miami where road rage, high taxes and tolls, congris, maduros, population density, hurricane warnings, and bazillions of ethnic and cultural concoctions await. Jesus is in the middle of all that.
As my last NNCC/Expoential Conference entry, check out what some of the other pastor/bloggers are saying about it:
Oh, and thanks to the guys that have linked to me. I had as much traffic on my blog by 9 am today than I usually get in a day. Thanks especially to Todd Rhodes from Monday Morning Insight.
Phil Stacey, Blake Lewis, Jordin Sparks, Lakeisha Jones, Melinda Doolittle, Chris Richardson you are all safe. What the heck was that?!
- Its really great to be around these guys and gals that are moving out of comfort zones to expand the Kingdom of God in communities around the world.
- Its refreshing to hear guys like Larry Osbourne take the focus off of maximizing potential and unapologetically living life and following the calling.
- Its refreshing to hear guys like Ed Stetzer point to the cross as more important than cultural relevance.
- I sometimes wonder if there is a homogenization of American church coming.
- (break- there are rabbits falling out of the ceiling)
- I enjoyed the bloggers roundtable. Quick observations: Andrew Jones shared that he blogs for posterity and evangelism. I wish he would have said more. Drew Goodmanson is really tall. I wish the roundtable could have gone on longer. Pastors love to hear themselves talk. Blogging pastors….well, we all basically talked at each other and kept subverting Ben while he was trying to direct discussion.
- I agree with Dave Ferguson when he talks about a shifting of what is celebrated from that of size to a celebration of reproducing churches.
Larry Osbourne is the lead pastor of North Coast Church, one of the most prominent churches in the multi-site, multi-venue church movement. I’m all ears in this session.
- Larry plugged into the power of authentiticty.
- stopped trying to build a church that people wanted to go to and started building a church that he wanted to go to.
- The only church God has equipped us to build is one that we want to be in.
- He decided to be himself.
- He quit doing the busy stuff that was annoying and unnecessary.
- A church you like is the only church you are gifted to build and lead.
- Larry decided to fulfill his calling, not his potential.
- Potential is such a harsh mistress.
- Potential confuses what I could do with what I should do.
- Sometimes, obediences is settling for less than the best.
- According to Paul’s encouragement to stay single, marrying is settling for less than being able to fulfill your greatest potential. Somehow, serving two masters (God and spouse) is better than maximizing your potential.
- North Coast Church could be bigger but he chose to love his family, be there for them, and enjoy life as opposed to selling out everything to grow the church.
- He chose to waste Kingdom impact in exchange for living his life in a way that honored his family.
- Larry said some things here that he was relieved that this message wasn’t being recorded…won’t share that but, it was really good, straight-forward and prophetic in attitude.
- decided to focus on building what he calls "a sticky church."
- A church where people are cared for and are not left hurting and angry.
- Larry decided to live up to the standards of a mature Christian and not a pastor.
- He quit asking "what would a pastor do?"
- Guideline: I won’t live my life any differently as a pastor of North Coast than I would if I was a framer who was a part of North Coast Church.
- He chose not be more earthy at home than in the pulpit.
- FAMILY STUFF:
- too much outward passion and zeal (for anything) embarrasses most kids. We think it is a spiritual problem…but its not. Its a kid thing.
- He quit managing his kids for peak performance and helped them with their character.
How many hours do you work as a pastor? With kids, no more than 50. Now, 60 hours. The only thing is that you can’t always control when thos hours are. But, honor your family first with your time.
Is there a practical way to say no to emergencies while you have a smaller church? Yes. You tell people that everyone wants to meet after hours and that you can’t do that without being divorced. They understood and made the adjustments.
What do you say to people who always complain about how tough their responsiblities are? You tell them life is hard, then you die, and if you are a Christian you’ll go on to be with God. Life is tough for everyone. So be thankful as you go through your particular process.
What do you do for your staff to encourage renewal? We encourage them to discern their own ebbs and flows. In all honesty, we’ve had more of an issue with people thinking staff ministry is Disney World and that they are entitled to stuff. Ministry is not a union job.
After you came through your difficult years, did you lose people in the change? Yes. People left because our new healthier approach to ministry was not what they were looking for.
Commentary: I’d say that Larry’s teaching is almost opposite to what everyone else
is teaching. I’d group Larry and Ed Stetzer in the same group as
sharing almost prophetic words to planters. They are counter cultural voices whom I very
Tony Bruno, Rickie Bradshaw, and Efrem Smith shared their personal stories and how that the heart of a pastor, his experiences, and pains shapes the heart of his church. This session was inspirational and story-driven. I can’t really bullet point this. But, I can say that the heart of a multi-ethnic church has to be heart…who you are. The heart of a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural church cannot reduce ministry to preach down to the church but to be transparent with the story, encouraging one another in a way that transcends race and culture.
The opening of this session started with urban hip hop worship led by some of Terrance Levi’s guys. This was awesome because, typically church plants that are featured by prominent church planting networks are for urban and suburban white. At the close of this session, Terrance told the story of the prodigal son story. Inspirational. Moving. Check out Ben Arment’s blog for some good pics.
- Hip hop has united the races in a negative way.
- Crosses every socio-economic and cultural boundary.
- “People say they don’t want to go to church. Really, they don’t want to go to hang out with people like that that go to that church.”
- Get back to being relevant.
- More info at streetlifeworldwide.tv and www.godaintmadatyou.com
Begin Ed’s talk on
Acts 1:8 – “You will be my witnesses.”
- True multiplication will only take place when we believe that disciples have to
- Acts 16
- This reminds us that we are all to “live being sent.”
“COME ON OVER” Acts 17 – “come over to Macedonia and help us.”
- Consider what it means to come over to your Macedonia and help.
- Tied in to the Great Commission is to “go”
- We are sent.
- God sends Jesus.
- Jesus: “As the Father sends me, I send you.”
- John 3:16 leads to john 20:21
- The New Testament is a book about a God who sends His son to send us.
- The Holy Spirit prevented the disciples from entering Troas.
- Paul received vision that left him unable to totally discern the heart of God.
- There is no indication that Paul entered Troas but later in Galatians, we see a church there.
- Later did Paul start a church there?
- Being Missional is planting Biblically faithful churches in communities according to the direction of God…even when difficult to discern.
- The how of church planting is determined by the who, what, and where.
- So, come over into your community…not someone else’s.
- Don’t become like other pastors. But, get a vision for your people.
- Don’t plant a church in your head (what you like).
- Plant a church for your community…relevant to the needs of your city.
- Bring Christ to culture and not just the church.
- We are planting the Gospel.
· Make sure people know it is all
· The help that we need to offer is
the “proclamation of the Gospel.”
· 2 corinthians 5:11-20
o your job is to persuade men about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
o Let them know that you are totally sold out too the Gospel.
o Christ’s love compels us.
o We are Christ’s ambassadors…imploring people on behalf of God.
o The totality of the Christian message is bigger than a salvation
o However, we cannot remove the bloody Christ and the empty tomb.
o Francis DuBose wries “The God who sends” quote: “The ornamental beauty
of a bejeweled cross is not…” (Find rest of quote)
o Being missional is bringing the help of the Gospel.
o Missional is being redefined as being sympathetic.
o Help walks by a ditch and
offers a man a way to get out
o Sympathy walks by the ditch and
feels sorry for a man, gets in the ditch with him but never offers him the way
o To start a church, you must not only BE and DO, but you must also TELL.
o WARNING to PASTORS- relevance has become a goal when relevance
should be a tool and the Gospel should be ther goal.
o When relevance becomes the goal:
§ We focus on personal
transformation and not Gospel transformation.
§ When your sermons are so practical
they lack any Gospel.
§ When we talk more about practical
§ When your outreach demeans others
that preach the gospel.
§ When your approach makes you the
hero and not jesus.
§ When personal evangelism is an
oxymoron in your church.
§ When invest and invite never leads
§ When attendance is a bigger goal
§ When the cross gets less focus
than your church
§ When not offending seekers is more
important than the Gospel.
· Perhaps its time to stop being
seeker sensitive and we should be seeker comprehensible.
- Lost people matter to God.
- When Jesus says “Go and make disciples” – he is talking about seeking and
saving what is lost.
- The US of this passage matters to God.
- Have you fallen in love with the people of your Macedonia?
- Do you have a vision for the people in your conext?
- Stop planning until God has broken your heart for your people.
- John Knox: “Give me Scotland or I die!”
- All that matters is “Will we live out the mission that Jesus has given to us?”
Intro to my notes:
Some cat in the back was clipping his nails…distracted me. So, my notes are a little scattered. You would think that pastors would know
better. Cell phones ringing in church
bug me. I hear that nail clipping is the
old school annoyance now replaced by cell phones. I definitely like the sound of a cell phone
more than I like the sound of some monkey in the back digging at his finger
nails. I’ll throw a book at the next
bonehead that does that.
Trends in Church
Planting that Reaches More People
- Ed’s research debunks a lot of the church planting/church growth statistics out there.
- See much more accurate research here. “Church Planting Survivability and Health Study 2007".
- What is really going on that can be evidenced.
- 120 million unchurched people in the USA.
- Church plants that reach 200 at the end of 1 year is an abnormality.
- Average church plant at the end of 1 year is 40.
- Factors may be funding, training, etc…
- Still need to reset expectations of church planters so that we are not comparing ourselves to abnormality but actually know going in what may be the actual experience.
- Top factors for higher response/attendance:
- Among others, meeting in a school, theater, events, new member classes, church
covenant, starting a daughter church within 3 years, proactive stewardship development plan, multiple staff at the beginning of the plant.
- Stewardship plan is SUPER CRITICAL according to research.
- A/G finances planters least yet has a higher success rate.
- Mean annual church planting funding approx. $100,000 over the course of 4 years on a decreasing scale.
- It takes approximately 4 years for a church to become totally self sufficient.
- Survivability 99% year after 1, 92% after year 2, 81% after 3 years, 68% after 4 years.
- We don’t want all church plants to succeed.
- 100% success rate, means we aren’t trying hard enough.
- 400% greater chance of survivability if planter’s expectations match up with reality.
- Church member leadership development increases survivability by 250%.
- Planter Peer Group increases survivability by 135%
- Stewardship plan increases survivability by 178%.
- Among others, meeting in a school, theater, events, new member classes, church
- Most large launch churches are the first one into that community.
- With each successive plant, the large launch strategy needs to be re-evaluated/reconsidered.
I heard Brad at the Buzz Conference in ’06. He’s the VP of Communications for the Four Square Church. He’s like a boy genius as well as the founder of one of my favorite blogs, Church Marketing Sucks. Drew Goodmanson, pastor of Kaleo Church was with Mark Driscoll when Mars Hill Church had under 100 people. Drew gave a great talk…seems like he has his finger on the pulse of a very transient community in San Diego.
Getting the Word Out
- Be who you are, not who you are not
- Quote Martin Luther “must be a saviour….damnable.” (did not get this whole quote…need it. If you have it, share it)
- Luther portrayed church realistically as an effective tool to reach out and
properly set expectations.
- Churches reported their website is their most effective marketing tool.
- Make sure website reflects who you are.
- Message, Method, Movement.
- Message comes first.
- Method comes last.
- Vast majority (60%+) of people who visit your church will look at your website
- 5 essential criteria for the next generation by lisa johnson:
- experience – active participant
- expression – trying it myself, using my tools, and releasing my inner rebel.
- Americans aged 13-24 spend more time online than in front of a tv.
- The audience is always right.
- If people aren’t getting it, it’s the communicator/leader’s fault.
- A church’s website IS a new resident’s first filter.
- During usability studies, 88% of web users went to a search engine first to
accomplish a task.
- If no one visits your really expensive website does it really exist?
- .07 per click for preferred yahoo top search
- communication without repetition is noise.
- Focus on worst possible outcome from your audience not getting the point.
- It takes 6 to stick (6 touch points/communications modes)
- Use your gut to guide.
- “It is by logic we prove but by intuition we discover.” – davinci
- discover by doing less.
- Be remarkable
- Great websites Soma Communities www.somacommunities.org powered by www.ekklessia360.com
- Starbucks spent less than $10,000 on advertising in their first 10 years.
Picture 1 – large gathering of new church pastors. Wayne Cordero speaking in the first session about returning to the basics of faith in Jesus, eating and giving away fresh bread/fresh experience with the Scriptures.
Picture 2 - Chris Elrod Fox News expert on "Man Church" wearing a "Man Bag," "purse," or some other similarly termed chick-like accessory.
I’m sharing the high points of the conference with anyone interested. My attention span can sometime be about the size of a gnat so don’t be surprised if I don’t stay super detailed with the notes.
But, before I pass on the notes, I have to say it was cool to bump into Dave Ferguson in the hallway. Dave has left a couple comments on my blog in the past. Since, he’s like a Michael Jordan of church planting, I find that cool. I think this guy is pretty much the picture of a servant leader. For a guy leading one of the most influential churches in the U.S., he’s about as down to earth as a human can be. I dig that.
Also, I ran into Ryan Kramer from Mosaic Church in Tarpon Springs. Ryan and I went to Lee together. He’s a decent guy that I wish I knew better. I saw Tadd in the auditorium. I ran into Matt, a future really good friend who is starting a church in the Pembroke Pines area. I never bumped into Phil Underwood from the Point in Snellville, GA or Nathan Griffis (planting in Weston). But, I did speak to both of them on the phone a half dozen times. 1st Baptist Orlando has a big campus so that’s pretty easy to do.
The pre-conference sessions I was in today were great. Jim Putnam from Real Life Church in Idaho was spot on with his teaching on community and discipleship. Next Stop- my notes.
Before we left for Exponential, we went out in the bay to celebrate my mom’s birthday. We docked at Bayside and hit Bubba Gumps. We saw at least 25 dolphin playing. It was killer…never seen anything like this. Check it out.
If one dream should fall and break into a thousand pieces, never be
afraid to pick one of those pieces up and begin again. ~Flavia Weedn
I was pulled aside a few times yesterday by people who have experienced failure along their journey. I’m inspired by their decision to pick up a piece and move forward. Facing failure is not fun. But, I believe that our failures are actually the dark places where we find God’s hand and the hope that we can trust Him. The decisions we make in those moments alter our life’s course.
Last week, we had issues with setup. Everything came together but, the process was wobbly. It really speaks to how critical Dave Crowley is to our crew. Getting our sound guys up to his knowledge level is going to take some time.
So, during the week, the band, setup, and sound/media met to make the adjustments. It showed today in a big way.
- Auditorium setup was over in an hour and a half.
- Kids venues were setup without any Kids volunteers having to do anything.
- Tear down was completed in 30 minutes. Everything was methodical and organized…a thing of beauty.
- We had another fantastic crowd. I have no numbers on it. But, we have opened almost as many seats as we can and the place felt great!
- I had some great spiritual conversations with people following service…people laying down some serious baggage to follow Christ.
- I saw multiple families together in church for the first time today. That’s huge. In every case that I know of the husband has been here for a while by himself. I see a great pattern of some men making right choices and leading the way for their families.
- I also saw some of our new group leaders really connecting with new people. One of the Waterstone groups that started 3 weeks ago is already just about at capacity! Awesome!
- We doubled the number of our life groups this month. I think we may be able to increase the number of groups this fall by 50%. That would be absolutely huge for the health of our church.
- Being totally honest, I felt flat today (not fishing for affirmation). I know God’s Word did its work. But, I am glad today is over.
- I’m on my way to Orlando for the Exponential Conference. The timing is right for me. I’m going to hang out with some guys I really love and respect, recharge, stoke my fire, and come back ready for a great weekend.
- Week 4 – "Faith without Works Sucks." It is going to be challenging, honest, and transparent.
- Keep doing your thing: inviting friends and loving life.
- The privilege of gathering with other Christ followers is something I don’t take for granted.
Kelly and I moved out of our house in Waterstone and headed south to Keys Gate. Since then, my buddy Matt has been
renting our place there. He’ll be moving out in a month or so and we need to sell this place. The house is priced at least $10,000 less than anything remotely comparable. In other words, we’re motivated. If you are looking for a great place or know anyone that is, giv
e us a shout.
Blog traffic has remained up over the last few weeks…averaging around 200 unique guests and 460 page views per day. That’s pretty decent for my blog. For those of you that are just joining me, I thought I’d share some of my favorite blog entries (see below). Also, if you want to stay up-to-date on everything here, subscribe to the blog so you don’t have to randomly check back.
A Conversation About the Church
Playing It Safe Sucks
Why Do We Meet in a Theater?
Prayers for Dave Crowley
The Jesus Consumers
Some Pics of Life Pointe
The Simplicity of Community
The Priority of Culture
Lamenting the Loss of Masculinity
In Pursuit of a Missional Denomination
Disappointed in Seattle
Blogging the COG General Assembly
A Call to the New Hudson Taylors
We love to say yes. We say yes as often as possible. We want to encourage you and give you permission to succeed in life and ministry. In that, we are permissive, faith-filled, and optimistic.
But, we say "no" directly and unashamedly. Sometimes, the "no" is without explanation. Sometimes, it is issued with tender loving care. Sometimes the "no" is a very difficult thing to say. Sometimes we want to say yes. It is expedient to say yes. It is prosperous to say yes. But, when saying "yes" causes the mission to be diminished, the only possible answer is a "no." I’ve said "no" more times than I would like to this week. I finished today with a big fat "no." It felt good and painful at the same time. But, I know it was 100% the right thing to do.
Give me some time and I’ll share some of the big stuff we have said "no" to. Right now, God is writing a huge story. The introduction seems a bit longish. But, I am glad to go through it. I am glad to see God work. I am glad that He says "yes" to us and believes in us. I’m glad He also says "no"…even when it hurts in the short term.
So much stuff is going on, I cannot even begin to digest it all. Still, I know God is totally in control. In it all, I’m having a blast! Nothing we do is boring. I seriously feel like we are constantly on the Apprentice with projects and constant changes. Fortunately, I’ve managed to avoid the board room so far! You guys have been awesome during all of this.
First, the contract on our church looks like it is dead. Basically, our buyer couldn’t get the deal closed in time and we didn’t feel like holding the property off the market for them any longer than we already had. So, we allowed the contract to expire. Bummer! I felt like that buyer would have been a great addition to the community. I thought it was a done deal.
But, within days of that contract falling through, we had another good offer. I don’t see us accepting it. But, I do know that there is an increasing amount of interest on the property with each passing day. A lot of renovations, improvements from the busway, and a low availability of religious, educational, and commercial properties in Homestead and south Miami-Dade just make that intersection very attractive. I know the right deal will come at the right time.
When it does, look out. I personally believe God has accomplished much through us to date. We’ve grown from a group of 40 to over 200 (320 on Easter). It has all happened on a shoe string budget…a very small show string by the way! That small shoe string budget has taken care of two facilities (our building and the theater) I am thanking God for the process. It has done a lot to work out some kinks in my character and identity. It has also helped us to determine what we are all about!
With the prospects of the building selling sometime soon, we continue to prepare for the next steps (post-sale). In addition to property moves, space, and ministry, I’ve been looking for a couple key staffers to come on board with us. I am blown away by the people that have thrown their names in the hat. I’d be humbled to be leading them. There are truly some great guys…some great fits out there waiting for God’s timing in all this. God has already assembled a great team here. But, I really get butterflies thinking about what’s next and what we’ll be like a year from now. To the guys that have put their names in the hat…thanks for identifying with us and desiring to be a part of the chaos.
So, its 2:04 AM. I can’t sleep because I’m just having a hard time turning it all off. I’m going to say a quick prayer, give it to God and head to bed. I’d like to ask you to pray for our future, the guys that will be coming on board with us, and that we totally sell out to our mission leaving nothing in reserve!
I’m registered for Exponential. I’m looking forward to seeing some of the fellas there. I’m signed up for the Post-launch track. I can’t wait. On Friday, the 27th, we have a crew going to the Wired Church Regional Conference at Flamingo Road Church as well. They’ll be in Simply Strategic Volunteers and 1st Impressions tracks.
Tomorrow night (4/19) from 7:15 -9:30 PM. Men only. Boating in Biscayne Bay. Blackpoint Marina. For info 305.247.0889.