New Churches: Multiply the Mission

new-churches-logo

Currently, a significant trend in the U.S., Canada, and around the world is a renewed emphasis on starting new churches. More than 4,000 new churches are launched in the U.S. each year alone, each one representing the potential to reach new people with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

However, new churches commonly struggle with limited resources, a lack of trained volunteers and few tools to support their work. Even more, these limitations can often be the most detrimental to churches in their very first years.

But LifeWay and the initiative that I’m leading through New Churches is committed to help.

For churches in their first two years of operation, LifeWay has a variety of free offerings to help get a few of the foundational aspects of ministry in place. This includes helps for:

  • Bible Study Groups (6 months of digital curriculum for all age groups)
  • Church Website: twenty:28 (Free website design and 1 year of hosting)
  • Leadership Development (1 year access to Ministry Grid, LifeWay’s new web-based training platform)
  • LifeWay eGiving $0 month + 2.75% + .30 per transaction. Plus, no set-up fee for text giving
  • LifeWay Envelope Service– 600 free offering envelopes
  • Plus, $500 in free printed LifeWay resources of the church’s choosing

To qualify to receive the free offers above, simply complete the form here at New Churches.

 

Book Review: Saturate by Jeff Vanderstelt

Saturate book cover*My post here was originally published on June 15, 2015 in Christianity Today.

When I first stepped into my role as a small-group pastor, I was at a loss as to how to help my church get on mission. I knew what it meant to be missional and intentional with my relationships. I knew how to share my faith. I even knew how to motivate my leaders to get on mission with God. However, the one thing that I didn’t know was how to make mission normal in our church—I didn’t know how to help the congregation get on mission with God in everyday life.

As a result, much like Jeff Vanderstelt explains in Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life, I loaded my leaders and groups with a task list of missional activities. There was only one problem: I was teaching and expecting my congregation to be Jesus—when only Jesus can truly be Jesus. As a result, I was expecting my group leaders to do more than Jesus every asked of them. In reality, as Vanderstelt puts it, “we are not meant to carry the weight of the world or the mission of Jesus on our shoulders. Jesus came to seek and save. He doesn’t expect us to become the saviors.”

So when I first encountered Vanderstelt’s ministry, Soma, I was impressed with the way they were able to normalize mission and make it easy for their church members to get on mission with God in everyday life. That’s what led me on my journey to digest everything I could get my hands on from Vanderstelt and Soma—articles, seminars, audio files, and the like. But now you can simply read Saturate, a book with all of their wisdom in one place.

As I was preparing to develop a discipleship pathway for my multi-site church, I was inspired by the ministry philosophy, identities, and rhythms of Soma because they have the clearest missional paradigm of discipleship. Soma’s focus, and subsequently, the focus of Saturate, is to provide a vision for complete and utter Jesus saturation rooted in who you are in Christ, rather than in what you do. [Read more…]

3 Ways Introverts Can Become Level 5 Leaders

Susan cain quote

In an earlier post, I shared one of my most vulnerable, if not, the single greatest self-revealing moment of my life – it had to do with cream puffs, moms, and a caffeine addiction.

Without divulging that story again (since you can read it here), I wanted to revisit, in this post, why I acted the way that I did…

It’s because I was an introvert.

I remember studying all about this in my Psychology of Religion class – to be honest, it brings back both fond and confusing memories of reading Freud and Jung. But it wasn’t until I read Susan Cain’s Quiet, that I began to truly appreciate the spectrum of introversion-extroversion and why it mattered.

Cain explains the importance of this scale…

Our lives are shaped as profoundly by personality as by gender or race. And the single most important aspect of personality—the “north and south of temperament,” as one scientist puts it—is where we fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum. Our place on this continuum influences our choice of friends and mates, and how we make conversation, resolve differences, and show love. It affects the careers we choose and whether or not we succeed at them. It governs how likely we are to exercise, commit adultery, function well without sleep, learn from our mistakes, place big bets in the stock market, delay gratification, be a good leader, and ask “what if.” It’s reflected in our brain pathways, neurotransmitters, and remote corners of our nervous systems. Today introversion and extroversion are two of the most exhaustively researched subjects in personality psychology, arousing the curiosity of hundreds of scientists. (Location 220)

So what are the differences between introverts and extroverts?

At a very general level, Cain describes the difference well…

Introverts…

  • Are drawn to the inner world of thought and feeling
  • Focus on the meaning they make of the events swirling around them
  • Recharge their batteries by being alone

Extroverts…

  • Are drawn to the external life of people and activities
  • Plunge into the events themselves
  • Need to recharge their batteries when they don’t socialize enough

“To be great is to be bold.”

This is a huge myth in our society and it’s called the Extrovert Ideal in Susan Cain’s Quiet, “The omnipresent belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha, and comfortable in the spotlight.”

We see the way that this myth has been perpetrated in our society…

  • By the way that the home coming king and queen are the most popular and gregarious ones
  • By the way that political elections seem to be won on charisma
  • By the way that the main characters in our TV shows and movies seem to be comfortable in the spotlight – anyone remember Zack from Saved by the Bell? Jerry from Seinfeld? Or how about Phil from Modern Family?

Now I’m not saying that Jerry, Phil, or Zack are the ideal representatives of greatness (not that there’s anything wrong with them), but the fact is, you don’t need to be an extrovert to be a great leader! Jim Collins reputed this notion with his Level 5 Leader research in Good to Great.

According to Collins, Level 5 leaders are individuals in whom genuine personal humility blends with intense professional will. In other words, Collins discovered that bold, loud and gregarious personalities were not indicative characteristics for successful leadership.

After all, according to Cain, “some of our greatest ideas, art, and inventions—from the theory of evolution to van Gogh’s sunflowers to the personal computer—came from quiet and cerebral people who knew how to tune in to their inner worlds and the treasures to be found there.”

So, as an introvert, here are three things that I’ve been incredibly intentional with, in my pursuit to become a Level 5 leader:

[Read more…]

Church Planting, Thermometers, and Thermostats

*My post here was originally published on May 7, 2015 in Christianity Today.

thermostat
Midnightcomm – Flickr

Isn’t it easier to point out the wrongdoings of others and tell people what to do, rather than be a part of the solution?

My wife and I have noticed this in our children—they love playing the victim. So whenever there’s conflict, instead of figuring it out themselves, they come to us crying out “injustice!”

I wonder where they learned that from? I knew I never should’ve let them watch Sesame Street…

In order to fix this attitude, a few days ago, my wife began teaching them the difference between being bossy and being a leader. Here’s the difference:

  • Bossy people point out the wrongdoings of others, expect others to fix their issues, and are never wrong.
  • Leaders take responsibility for situations, don’t dwell on problems, focus on solutions, and make change happen.

As I was reflecting on this new paradigm of parenting (my wife is amazing by the way), I couldn’t help but notice the similarities that it had with thermometers and thermostats. Let me explain:

  • Thermometers point out what currently is, expect others to do something with that information, and they provide us with the standard—they are never wrong. Thermometers are indicators.
  • Thermostats, on the other hand, take the information from the thermometer and do something about it. Thermometers take responsibility for the environment and focus on solutions. Thermostats are change agents.

Can you see the similarities that bossy people have with thermometers and leaders have with thermostats?

So what are you? Are you more of a thermometer or a thermostat? This is an important question as it affects the posture that you will subconsciously take in planting and leading a church.

[Read more…]

Help Me Write Planting Missional Churches (3rd Ed)

planting missional churches
This next year, I have the privilege of writing the 3rd edition of Planting Missional Churches with Ed Stetzer! It’s been 10 years since the last edition, so we are wanting to do a major overhaul on stories, statistics, and content.

This is where you come in.

As a part of the update, we are wanting to rewrite the church planting stories that are in every chapter of the book, and we want your stories.

So please share your church planting story by filling out this form, and we’ll pick the most relevant stories and incorporate them into the 3rd edition of Planting Missional Churches.

If we incorporate your story into the book, we’ll send you a signed copy of the book, and a few other limited edition items as well!

Thanks!