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Category Archives: Church Planting

Spirit Led Church Planting – Reflections From The Beach

Recently I have been thinking a lot about church planting and what that means and looks like in a  place like Oklahoma.  This morning as I played in the water along the beach in Galveston, TX I had the chance to reflect upon a lot of my recent thoughts and let God speak to me.  In general I think church planting is far too often done more from a practical, logical, and entrepreneurial stance than it is done from a spiritual one.  Now I think the former has a place but not so much that we over plan and strategize to the point that we leave no room for the moving and leading of the Holy Spirit.

At the beginning of the book of Joshua the Israelites are preparing to finally enter into the Promised Land.  The long, wondering journey is now over and the time for taking the land has finally come.  In chapter 1 Joshua is commissioned by God and takes command of the people.  Then in chapter 2 they send in the spies to Jericho and in chapter 3 there is a fascinating account of all the people crossing the Jordan river.  It is this crossing of the Jordan river that my mind turned to this morning while enjoying the rolling waves coming across the sandbars and that I believe has much to teach us about church planting by the Holy Spirit.

12Now therefore take twelve men from the tribes of Israel, from each tribe a man. 13And when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.”

14So when the people set out from their tents to pass over the Jordan with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, 15and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest),  Joshua 3:12-15

We got to Galveston mid afternoon yesterday and after unloading the vehicles we all hurriedly changed into our swimsuits and hit the beach.  I was tired after having woken up at 4:00 AM to start the drive to the beach so I did not venture out to far from the shore.  I played in the shallow water and took my kids out as far as they would go without screaming.  This morning though I was rested and invigorated and decided to venture out much further.  I reach a point on a sandbar where I could still stand with my head above water.  The calm water was to the top of my shoulders and when bigger waves would roll across I would have to jump to keep my head above water.  It was at this point that I began to think about the above passage.

Any of us that have been in church for some time have surely heard of the dramatic crossing of the Red Sea and how God parted the waters before Moses or any of the Israelites set foot into the sea bed.  This crossing of a body water is very different.  Both are miraculous and amazing but I think this Joshua passage speaks to what it is like to set out to plant churches by and through the leading of the Holy Spirit.  When the priests carrying the ark of the covenant first lifted their feet to step into the Jordan River they were not lifting the feet over dry ground.  No they were lifting it over water.  They weren’t just lifting it over calm or relatively calm shallow water either.  No they were lifting their feet over roaring flood stage waters.  The Jordan River is normally 90-100 feet wide and ranges from 3-9 feet deep.  In flood stage this is increased dramatically sometimes reaching widths up to 1 mile and depths of 150 feet.  This spring and summer those of us in Oklahoma have come to better appreciate flood waters.  As I was bouncing and frolicking in almost 5.5 foot water this morning I began to  imagine what it would be like to take a step over roaring deep water and trusting that when I brought my foot down it would be on dry land.  It would take some faith that is sure!

Flood (1)

That is the same type and level of faith it takes to pursue Spirit led church planting.  When you say yes to God that you are going to plant a church and follow where His Spirit leads then you may not know where your foot will hit when you take that next step or the next one or the next one or the one after that.  Your trust and dependence has to be firmly embedded in God.  This is the type of church planting we need.

When we plant churches through the direction of the Holy Spirit that is what will happen.  The Holy Spirit will move and call people to Christ.  It may be tens, it may be tens of thousands.  It may be messy at times and it may be trying and difficult.  It will require deep faith and a continual openness to saying yes to where and how the Spirit leads.  It is what is deeply needed though.  Let’s follow God into the deep waters and plant churches as His Spirit directs!

Oceans (1)

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2015 in Church Planting

 

Why Are We Letting Wormwood Win?

Yesterday morning I mowed my lawn.  I had been needing to for awhile, but had been putting off until I could do it early in the morning.  Normally, I mow my front yard, then weed-eat front and back, then mow the back.  Well yesterday I did it different.  I weed-eated the back, then the front, mowed the side, the back, then the front.  When I got to the front yard I started mowing in a different spot than normally.  I noticed that as I went about my yard work things seemed out of whack to me because I was doing it all different.  That got me thinking about how accustomed to routine we all are.  We like things to be consistent whether we admit it or not.  We tend to do things in a similar fashion all the time.

This morning I want to address something that has tragically become routine and consistent in Evangelicalism.  That is the cannibalization of our own.  Yes a certain recent controversy in the blogosphere got me thinking about this but I do not want to address that here.  I want to address an underlying issue.  It seems we waste way too much time attacking each other for not being just like us (I praise God none of you are just like me!), while we fail to spread the Gospel to others in the world?  Why do we do this?  Why are we just giving the war away?

We can and must do better than this.  We have to come together for the Gospel and quit attacking each other all the time.  So today before you post that status, send that tweet, or publish that blog, consider if it is building the Kingdom or dividing it, no matter how clever and humorous it is.

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2012 in Church Planting, Culture, Ministry

 

Gospel Coach Training Review

This weekend I had the opportunity to attend Gospel Coach training at Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City.  I had been wanting to attend this training for some time, however during the Saturday morning session I was quickly shown evidences of God’s Grace and Sovereignty in timing.  You see the best chance I had previously had to attend this training was last summer.  However I did not find out about it until the day before and my wife had already made plans for us to be out of town that weekend.  Had I attended the training those 10+ months ago it would have been bad for my soul.  You see at that point last summer things were getting progressively more stressful at FBC McLoud, where I was Senior Pastor and sitting through this training would have just caused me to become bitter towards some of the people there who did not want to see Gospel growth.  So my first thought after this weekend is that God is so Faithful and Good in His timing of things.

Now on to some more practical reflections.  I grew a lot from this training.  I did learn a few new things, but most of the training consisted of things I have heard many times before in many different ways.  I think it connected with me in a fresh way though because of knowing this is how to build a church.  I have learned, through many failures of my own and chasing my own pride, that churches are not necessarily built through great preaching (I know they can be at times), and they are not faithfully built through gimmicks and fads.  Churches, more importantly the church God is calling me to plant, are build through one on one discipleship and doing life together.  So knowing and learning that I know that this system, this way of coaching and training others is going to be my life blood for how to plant and how to see the Gospel mature in other believers.  It is not fast, it is not sexy or glamorous, no it is the hard and messy work of one on one life.  I am excited to see what God does in me through this.  I greatly encourage you to read the book Gospel Coach (review is forthcoming) and to attend this training if possible.

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2012 in Church Planting, Conferences, Ministry

 

Acts 29 Boot Camp Review

My wife and I just returned from the Acts 29 Boot Camp.  If you are not familiar with that it is a conference for church planters and those interested in church planting.  The time there was incredibly fruitful.  We were able to see some old friends, make some news ones and be challenged continuously with the Gospel.  I was reminded as to why I feel called to plant a church, and that is to take the Gospel to those outside of the church.  We are all being discipled by something, most of us by culture.  The Gospel is such a better and more beautiful discipler, and I want to take that beautiful, wonderful truth to people.  That is what stirs my soul and what drives me.  I pray it is what is driving you today.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2012 in Church Planting, Conferences, Life

 

Race, Hobbies, & Church Planting

I love church planting.  I truly believe it is the most effective way of spreading the Gospel today.  However there is something that troubles me deeply regarding church planting.  That is the plethora of ethnic and affinity churches.  Several months ago I was sitting in a meeting with fellow pastors hearing some of the church planting specialists of in my state denominational office talk.  One of the guys went on and on about how we need to plant more and more second and third generation Hispanic churches.  I was good in that meeting and did not say anything rude or cause a scene but I remember thinking really, that is what we need.  You see second and third generations Hispanics were born in America; they have grown up in American culture and schools, many if not most speak little to no Spanish.  They are fellow Americans that speak English yet have a Hispanic heritage.  Now I do not deny them their heritage or anything like that.  But do we need to establish churches with the sole goal of reaching them?  Yes they are leaving the ever-increasing graying and declining Spanish speaking churches in which they might have been raised.  Yes we should reach them.  But should we plant churches with such narrow focus or should we just plant churches?  Churches that have at its heart the Gospel that want to reach all people not just a certain subset of people that are defined by riding Harleys or having horses, or their ethnicity.  I mean I know quite a few Irish/Scottish/Native Americans.  I am one.  My wife is one.  Should we try and plant a church filled with them, or should we even narrow it down further, perhaps Scotch-Irish/Native Americans that have kids, drive minivans/SUV’s and wear Toms?  Or should we continue with our desire to plant a church that spreads the Gospel to all people?

I think we should do the latter.  I fear that continuing to plant churches solely based on ethnicity or affinities fails to fulfill the Biblical mandates of the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.  Only reaching those like us is not loving all people, nor is it taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth.  Further I see ethnic based church planting as way of perpetuating segregation in the church.  I love that the church my wife and I are attending during this interim time before our new church plant is very diverse.  It is maybe 50-60% Anglo, and maybe 40 % middle class or higher.  It is mixed racially and socio-economically.  That is how all churches should be.  So let’s plant churches with that goal, not with a narrow focus.  Is it harder to do that?  Yes, but we plant churches through the strength and wisdom provided by the Holy Spirit anyway not our own, so let’s just plant churches.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2012 in Bible, Church Planting, Culture, Life, Ministry, Theology

 

Moralistic Cultural Deism

I am sure most of you have heard of the term Moralistic Therapeutic Deism which Christian Smith  and Melinda Lundquist Denton gave to us in the 2005 book; Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers.   They described it as the prevailing religious though of our time and defined it thusly:

  1. A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.
  2. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
  3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
  4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.
  5. Good people go to heaven when they die.

Today I want to introduce a new term to you, Moralistic Cultural Deism.  It is what I see is the prevailing religious thought in the Bible Belt South.  It is what I have encountered time and time again in churches in this area and it is so damaging to the spread of the Gospel, because so many people think they are part of God’s kingdom yet they do not know Him.  So I want to define what I mean by these terms and how I see them relating.

Moralistic:  Most people in the South and in the Bible Belt are good people.  You hear phrases like they are the salt of the earth or he is a self-made man thrown around a lot.  You can chalk a lot of this up to Puritan work ethic and good parenting and a strong sense of doing what is right and bettering one’s situation in life.  This sense of moralism leaves very little room for grace.

Cultural:  Much of this morality comes in the form of legalism though.  It may be vaguely based on scripture but much of it is based on what has been passed down through their families and culture as well.  It is very beneficial to your business in most of the South for you to be a part of the local church.  Many ads in the local newspapers are accompanied with icthus’ or crosses.  But there is no real commitment in this.  People join and attend a church because it is expected and it helps their status in the community much like joining the Rotary Club or Kiwanis might.  This in turn causes them to treat the church much more like a social club or a country club.  They vie for power and control instead of seeking out God and seeking to spread His Gospel.

Deism:  Deism is the belief that there is a god behind the creation of everything but he has no real interaction with the world and has really left it to its own.  Most church goers in the Bible Belt would flatly deny this accusation yet if you examine their lives it is what you see.  There is no Gospel freedom in their lives.  There is no life giving grace to their actions, and they are not continually led by the Spirit.  They claim they believe in God, but when push comes to shove they roll up their sleeves and work harder and try to do better instead of crying out to the God who saves!

On one hand it is very very disheartening to see this trend across this part of America and beyond.  It is even more disheartening to see how entrenched it is, and how long it has been alive and well.  But I do believe there is hope in the midst of this.  The hope is found in the Gospel.  It is going to take a Gospel infusion and explosion to counter this wolf like belief that is masquerading as a sheep.  Would you join me in praying for that today?

 
 

29 Coffee

Do you love coffee?  Are you interested in reaching the unchurched and unreached through church planting?  Well there is a little company you need to know about!  29 Coffee provides a way for you to enjoy great coffee while helping to plant Gospel-centered and missionally focused churches.   $5.00 of every $10.99 bag goes directly to church planting in your region.  Seriously what is better than that?  Drinking great coffee and knowing you are help to spread the Gospel?

And I know you are wondering this, but yes the coffee is really good.  I have had the Standard (whole bean and ground), Travelers Blend (whole bean and ground), and the Christmas Blend.  All were excellent.  If you want to have a monthly order set up it is very easy to do so.  I used to order two bags a month and right when I was about to finish both bags, my next order would be waiting for me on my doorstep.

Also your church can partner with 29 Coffee to order in bulk for your church services.  $10.00 of every 5 lb bag goes to church planting, and 29 Coffee can also assist your church in purchasing new state of the art brewing equipment at wholesale prices.

There is not a single downside to this product.  I hope you order some today!