Four Church Planting Tips with Lesslie Newbigin



Lesslie Newbigin (1909-1998), while being best known for his work in missiology and ecclesiology, actually has a lot of advice for church planters. In fact, each of them is an extension of his quote in the picture above, or of my paraphrase below:

The church – a healthy church – is the hermeneutic of the gospel. It’s the way that the gospel comes to life. It’s the way that people can taste and smell the gospel.

When planting a church, it’s easy to go the way of the herd and get so caught up with the details, that you forget the values or the underlying ecclesiology that you’re trying to develop in the life of your church. After all, without those details getting done, you wouldn’t be able to plant a church. But what if, for a moment, you put those details aside and re-examined the type of ecclesiology that you’re developing in light of these four church planting tips that were inspired by Lesslie Newbigin’s The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society?

1. Cultivate gratitude, not entitlement.

Newbigin suggests that churches need to be communities of praise and thanksgiving and that this, perhaps, is the church’s most distinctive character. So how are you cultivating a culture of praise and thanksgiving in your church? Are you being intentional with your preaching/teaching and the rest of your ministries? If you cultivate that culture of praise and thanksgiving in your church, you’ll actually see that translate into a heart of gratitude – and with gratitude, you’ll be slaying the idol of entitlement. If that happens, you’ll see your church’s “me” culture translate into a “we” culture, where the focus will be less on personal comfort and wellbeing, and more towards the wellbeing of your city and the salvation of those who are far from God.

2. Share truth, not gossip.

The fuel that drives pop culture seems to be gossip and scandals. This isn’t just true for entertainment shows, late night shows and sitcoms, but this pervades the news as well. If this is the MO (mode of operation) of our culture, this will naturally seep into the life of your church. So instead of calling your church to reject pop culture outrightly and burn all their “secular” CDs and DVDs, what if you cultivated a sense of skepticism towards it? After all, this skepticism would enable your congregation to, in the words of Newbigin, “take part in the life of society without being bemused and deluded by its own beliefs about itself.” This sense of skepticism would allow your church to be aware of pop culture, so that they could speak truth into it by being an alternate community of truth apart from it.

3. Be for your community, not just in your community.

[Read more…]

5 Things to Ask Before Getting a Masters, Doctorate or Ph.D

Alan Levine from flickr
Alan Levine – Flickr

Education and degrees tend to open new doors and opportunities. They’re most effective at qualifying you for a particular line of work, but once you’re in and have experience in that industry, you better think twice before going back to school. In fact, you should ask these 5 questions before sending in your tuition deposit.

Now just to get something clear. I love school. In fact, I’ve studied at five different graduate schools in three separate countries. And no, I didn’t flunk out of any of them, nor was I expelled. (You can read about my story here, “Why I ditched the M.Div…and am still a pastor.”) So I’m not writing this post as a manifesto against higher education, nor am I trying to sway you away from getting a masters, doctorate or Ph.D.

I’m writing this post because I want to help you make a wise decision.

That’s it. No agenda at all.

So here are the 5 questions that you need to ask before going back to school:

1. Will this additional degree open doors that further years of experience wouldn’t?

There are two ways to advance your career – further experience or additional education (formal, informal and/or nonformal).

If you somehow made it into your industry without the minimum education requirements, then my suggestion is for you to go get your degree (part time via online education), while you’re still working. For example, if you completed a residency or internship program at your church and were offered a staff position, but you didn’t have the right degree that would’ve traditionally qualified you for that position, then go get that degree part-time via online education or through a local school. If you don’t, then your lack of education will eventually catch up to you and be a lid on your leadership.

[Read more…]

Your Multisite Content Wish List


I’ve been on staff with 3 multisite churches (you can read more in my bio), and there’s one thing that I’ve experienced. No one does it the same. While there are several principles that seem to be universally true across the board, the way they’re applied is unique to the context.

So here is where I need your input.

I’m the Church Multiplication Specialist at LifeWay. What that means is that I’m leading the initiative to develop resources for all things related to church multiplication – that means everything to do with church planting and multisite.

So what’s your wish list? What are your most pressing questions regarding multisite ministry? What do you want to learn about? And who do you want to learn from?

–> Please leave your comments below, or tweet them to @danielsangi

If you’re interested in what we already have to offer for multisite ministry via our leading online learning platform, Ministry Grid, read this list.

[Read more…]

3 Ways to Avoid Losing Your Job

This is Part 4/4 of my popular Desert Experience in Ministry series.

skyloader from flickr

There seems to be a universal rule out there that goes something like this,

If thou wantest something, thou shalt put a wack-load-of-effortitis into getting it

But what happens to most of us when we finally get that thing? Think about it for a moment. What happened to that Bow-Flex you bought? That machine that was going to revolutionize your life? Or what about that Juicer that was going to make you so healthy? It went from being on the counter, to being under the counter, to being in a box in your garage. Am I right?

It’s funny, most of us don’t mind putting the effort into getting something that we want, but once we get it, it’s easy to put it aside and focus on that next big thing that’s on the horizon.

If you’re not careful, the same will happen with your job.

Do you remember the amount of energy and mind space that you put into getting that job of yours? You prayed about it. You researched it. You weighed the options. You candidated. You name it, you know you did it. But since getting that job, where has your energy and mind space gone? Is it in the work that you know you were called to do? Or do you find yourself drifting?

It’s one thing to lose your job because of laziness and lack of performance. (The only advice that I can give you on that point is that a worker deserves their wages. Buckle up your bootstraps and get your work done). However, it’s a whole other thing to lose it unexpectedly. And that’s what I want to help you with today!

Here are 3 ways to prevent unexpected transition (a.k.a. 3 ways to avoid losing your job):

1. Set Expectations and Record Progress

Job descriptions are fluid – especially in ministry. I can guarantee you that your job description will change multiple times over in your first year, so don’t work off of a static document. Get a clear picture as to what’s expected of you from your boss, your peers and those you’re leading. Don’t assume that you know what they expect of you, and also don’t assume that they know what you’ve done. So set 30, 60 and 90 day goals after those conversations and report on your progress. This iterative process will allow you to adjust your goals as you work and create an environment where everyone is happy with the working relationship.

2. Communicate Clearly and Regularly

[Read more…]

Tuesday’s Thought – Roosevelt and Tenacity

What amazes me about Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, was his incessant desire to learn and push the envelope. He didn’t let his physical weaknesses hold him down. Circumstances were more of an afterthought, than something that would influence his movement forward. He truly embodied the word, “tenacity.”

Hence, this quote:

Far better to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory, nor defeat.