New Churches Mobilize Committed People. For various reasons people who are committed to and active participants in an established church are often not being used to their full potential as leaders. The development of new worship venues, new church sites, and new congregations can be a force for mobilizing these vital people. New opportunities for leadership and creativity abound in a new and growing church and many people find that even temporary involvement in a new church can strengthen their gifts for ministry.
New Churches Revitalize God’s People.The birth of new churches helps to make an established congregation “feel young again.” Just like a proud grandparent who says: “My grandchildren really keep me on my toes.” So it is when a mature congregation helps to give birth to a new congregation. The vitality and excitement of the daughter church rubs off on the mother church, and the maturity and experience of the mother deeply influences the daughter!
New Churches Connect Diverse People. America is growing more and more diverse with each passing year. New churches are able to connect with that diversity in ways that current churches are not. It seems that every people group needs to hear the gospel in a way that connects with their own culture and context. New churches start with a “clean slate” and are able to attract a diverse population without barriers.
New Churches Challenge Young People.Historically, we know that new churches are the best way for reaching each new generation. Each generation needs their own new type of church that speaks the gospel in a new and fresh way. Taking the unchanging substance of our message and adapting the way we communicate it to the style and values of a younger group of people is increasingly necessary in the 21st century.
Starting new churches (church multiplication) is the single greatest need and challenge facing believers in America. The revitalization of Christianity and the re-evangelization of our country can only come about as a massive wave of new leaders are developed to establish and develop new faith communities. Why is church planting so important? The answer is simple, new churches are focused on the development of people.
New Churches Reach New People. “New churches are more effective than established churches at conversion growth,” writes David T. Olson. New churches often have three to four times the conversion rate than established churches. The cutting edge of evangelism around the world is church planting and the development of dynamic and new faith communities. If we are going to reach new people in our community then church planting and church multiplication must be one of our highest priorities.
Would anybody notice if your pastor did not show up to preach on Sunday when scheduled? Would anybody notice if the church bulletin, with its mostly internal news items and announcements, were not printed? Would anybody notice if the musicians for Sunday morning failed to show up? Of course! These would be major issues for most congregations.
Now ask this question about outreach. Would anybody notice if nobody did any outreach to people who live apart from the church? Sadly, in many churches, the answer is no. Almost no one expects outreach from staff, volunteers, church officers, or regular attenders to happen. Very few job descriptions include it, and very few performance reviews monitor it.
However, I would have noticed, if as a young man no one reached out to me with the gospel. I would not be writing this blog. I would still be a completely secular person living a life without hope and without God. The hungry notice when they are not fed. The naked notice when they are not clothed. At-risk children notice when no one is there to mentor them. Prisoners notice when no one visits them.
I believe that everyone in every church should be held mutually accountable for those who are living outside our doors and insulated from the influence of the gospel. We should insist that staff, volunteers, officers, everyone be trained, equipped, and expected to “go into all the world.” I don’t mean this in any legalistic sense. I am not proposing a new set of rules to be followed. But I wonder how we can create a greater sense of urgency and a great sense of responsibility for those who need Jesus?
What do you think about this?
Art Weirs, one of my co-workers in the LumineX Collaborative, recently issued a challenge to a gathering of Christian leaders. ”Pray Great Commission prayers!” He pointed out that so much of our corporate prayer is focused on the needs and concerns of those who are inside the church already. Conversely, he urged these leaders to intentionally and systematically begin the practice of praying for and about those who live apart from Christ and outside the Christian community.
I want to suggest that a growing and multiplying church is a church that intentionally prays for and about at least four groups of people:
1. Those who are far from God. I Timothy 2:1-4 “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority,that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
2. Those who are suffering and marginalized. Galatians 6:2 ”Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
3. Those who will be raised up to seek out those who are far from God. Matthew 9:38 “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
4. Those who will lead efforts to strengthen and start churches. Acts 13:2-3 “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.”
Can you suggest ways to make our prayers more focused on the Great Commission?
I have visited lots of churches. Without exception I have observed the formation of, what I call, social “bubbles.” Like a series of self-organizing soap bubbles emanating from a child’s toy groups of people form into clusters at the close (or sometimes prior to) the service. Friends are meeting friends. Business is being transacted (church and otherwise). Families are having a mini-reunion. Small group bible studies are planning their meeting place for later in the day.
The formation of social bubbles is natural in any group. Friendships are vitally important for the development of a cohesive social architecture for any church.
There is one problem.
How do new people penetrate and pass through the cell walls of these social cells?
How can churches make social spaces for newcomers?
Many “friendly churches” are not very good at making friends, and we know that people “stick” at church or in any social group if they have made a number of friends in the early days of their experience with the group. Many churches are stagnant in their growth, not because they are not friendly or because they lack a system for following up on newbies, but because they are socially impermeable. They don’t make friends with people quickly and easily.
The solution? Intentionally promoting social interaction with new people among your membership. Get them to play with others. Play cards, scrabble, or something with a newcomer. Take them out for coffee. Have them over for dinner. Take them out to lunch. I wonder what would happen if church members were encouraged to “tithe” their Friday or Saturday nights to engage with new visitors to the church. Five weekends a year times 50 families = 250 social encounters with new people a year. That’s like adding a part-time staff person!
What are some of the ways that you and your church people have penetrated the bubble?
When talking about planting in Small Town USA. I am often asked, “Why even go there?” I have 3 main reasons for planting in this vital neck of the woods: a) a biblical reason, b) a practical reason, and c) a cultural reason. Let me deal with the first one here, a biblical reason.
You’re probably familiar with the passage in Matthew 9 where Jesus has compassion on the crowds and says the harvest is great and tells the disciples to pray for workers. Then in Matthew 10 Jesus sends those same guys out. Let’s look at it again.35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:35-38
Did you notice that before Jesus’ compassion on the crowds and before this commissioning of the 12 Jesus ministered to ALL the towns and villages. He didn’t just stay in the metro areas of Jerusalem, Capernaum or Caesarea. He went throughALL the towns and villages. According to John 5:19 Jesus only went to where His Father sent Him. Apparently the Father wanted him to go ALL the towns and villages.
But that small town Israel mission from the Father wasn’t just for Jesus. When Jesus commissioned the disciples He said: 11 Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave.Matthew 10:11 Jesus didn’t restrict the 12 to just the metro areas or the cultural centers of His day. He says whatever “towns and villages” you enter.
And of course the Father even commissions us to go. We’re all familiar with the Great Commission text – preach and do the Kingdom stuff nearby (Jerusalem), and further out (Judea), and further out (Samaria), and finally to the ends of the earth. Isn’t it odd that we’ll encourage the planting of churches in the remote villages of Kenya, the Amazon, and Tibet and yet neglect Small Town USA?
There is a Biblical Reason to plant churches in small towns whether here in the States or in countries far away. Jesus went to all the towns and villages. Let’s do the same!
Originally posted on churchplanting.org
Luminex Summer Church Planting Internship
Who should apply?
- College students
- Seminary students
- People who are thinking about a career or significant experience in global mission
- Prospective church planters
What will I gain from this experience?
- Hands on experience with church planting and outreach
- Learning from church planters on the field
- Immersion in urban church planting
- Practical skills in working on a ministry team
- First hand experience in a world class city
When is it?
- June 4 – August 8, 2012
- Mondays 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
- Wednesdays 3 p.m. – 9 p.m.
- August 1 – 8 in New York City
Where is it?
- We will be ministering, working and studying in various locations throughout Michigan
- Home base will be in Grand Rapids
- August 1 – 8 we will be an Urban Church Planting Immersion in NYC
How much will it cost?
- $2,000 will cover all expenses including airfare, accomodations, meals, sightseeing, and books.
- Each intern who completes all assignments will receive an $800 stipend at the end of the intership.
- Fundraising for the remaining balance will be encouraged and funds will be received through the regional synod office.
When are applications due?
- May 1, 2012
How do I apply?
Today’s leaders of the most effective churches also know this. They know that many people’s souls are crippled by stress and by an out-of-control emotional war within, and that they often feel that “no one knows how I feel, not even God.” Leaders of the most effective churches take this seriously, and they know that authentic conversion involves experiencing a new emotional world with specific emotions like joy, peace, and gratitude, which people had not known before. Effective churches begin with people where they are; they consider people’s emotional agendas and their struggle for emotional freedom; and they adapt their music, preaching, teaching, praying, counseling, and pastoral care to the emotional needs and aspirations of people.
From the book:
George G. Hunter III The Apostolic Congregation: Church Growth Reconceived for a New Generation
What do you think? Are the ministries of our churches emotionally relevant to the needs of an emotionally starved and battered generation?
After you weigh in with a comment be sure to register for the Momentum Conference where George will be speaking on March 3. You can register at www.churchmomentum.org
3 Keys to Startup Success: Hustle, Follow-
Through and Curiosity
A friend and I started Modify Watches last year when I was 28. I had just finished my MBA, and in the past had spent four years with Deloitte Consulting, a management consulting firm. I started in the company’s New York office after finishing my undergraduate studies and moved to London with the firm to specialize in their operations and finance practice. So, the new start-up should be easy, right? I mean, I had an incredible amount of “skills” to go with a graduate degree and worldly experience.
What I have found over the past few years is that we have a huge misperception of what qualifies a useful “skill” for a start-up. You may not have deep finance expertise, be able to design a jet engine, or be an incredible web developer. But if you are reading this article – and showing your curiosity and desire to learn – I bet you have the necessary skills to work in a start-up environment. What skills are necessary to work in a small business? I think that there are three: Hustle, Follow-through and Curiosity.
Hustle – During the past year I estimate that 5% of my time has been dedicated to strategy, 5% has been spent on sales calls and 90% has been focused on everything else. What is in that 90%? Packing boxes for 14,000 watches that we have sold; exchanging over 200 emails per day with customers; working with my team on re-designing our watch not once, but twice; sending watches to non-profits to help with fundraising; remembering to eat while working! With rare exception every day at a start-up requires “fighting fires” – handling issues that have immediate deadlines. To us, “Hustle” does not just mean working really hard (though that is critical). “Hustling” means being industrious and figuring out clever ways to solve problems so that we make our customers happy and improve how we work. Do you like solving problems in a busy environment? Try working in a start-up.
Follow-through – I think of “Follow-through” as the partner to hustle. It is very easy to get lost in the day-to-day grind, and focus only on short-term issues. Everyone feels a sense of accomplishment when they tick off boxes on a to-do list. These are important, but Follow-through means that no matter how busy or stressful work may get, you never lose sight of the big projects under your control, and the company goals. Do you like diversity in your work and love completing big projects? Start-ups!
Curiosity – You are reading an article by a History major. I love reading, love understanding what events brought us here, love traveling the world. Something new happens at a start-up every single day. Sometimes these new experiences are great – Google wants to buy watches! And, sometimes the experiences are terrible – we messed up a customer order and need to fix it immediately. Do you love learning? Love meeting new people? Love taking on tasks that range from calling customers to designing watches? Try. A. Start-up.
The good news is not only that can these skills can be learned – practice does make perfect – but also that you can still deliver good results while you are improving.
- First, set yourself up for success by choosing a company and team you care about. That way you will show up to work energized each day; happiness can make even the most mundane tasks exciting.
- Second, think of your customers as family and friends. It sounds silly, but when you believe that folks you care about rely on your product or service, you will work harder to make sure they are treated well.
- Third, make lists. Finish each day by creating a list of the 5 small tasks that you need to accomplish the next day. Then do them the next day. Each weekend write out the one or two big projects that you want to focus on for the next week. Both of these steps will help with the follow-through, which is one part organization and one part effort.
- Fourth, while I cannot tell you to “be more curious”, I can let you know that great start-ups have a forgiving environment. Learning from mistakes is the key to success. Knowing that you will make mistakes will take away some of the stress of trying new things, which will allow your natural curiosity to shine!
- Fifth and finally, ask your teammates to hold you accountable for even the smallest things. You will start to deliver everything that is expected and you will also improve team communication, which is always critical.
A start-up is scary because every day is uncertain. But it is also a great place to learn, to meet new people and to try new things. Whether you are starting a venture or joining a team, simply working hard, completing your tasks and being open to new ideas will set you on a path to success.
Aaron Schwartz is the Founder and CEO at Modify Industries, Inc., which designs interchangeable custom watches known asModify Watches. Aaron loves working on startup ideas and has spent innumerable (happy) hours advising friends and former students on how to grow their ideas.
Here is my most recent column in this month’s Outreach Magazine. The January/February issue this year focuses on evangelism, so my column is reflective of that theme. I tried to address some issues that Christians will need to address in the coming years to be vibrant churches engaging their communities. As such, it is not just about “do this” but about the need to recognize where we are, regain a focus on clear gospel proclamation, get more adept at disciplehsip, and then use tools and innovations as tools.
If you aren’t already subscribing to Outreach, it’s a great resource.
It has already been over ten years since we were preparing for the Y2K bug, using the new tool known as “IM,” and talking about the post-modern movement. Today, they are barely applicable to anything that we do or discuss. It simply shows that the church must be vigilant to see what is next and ready to address new issues. Let me discuss a few of the issues that are on the horizon.
The first is the navigation of a post-seeker context. When I use this term, I do not mean that “seekers” no longer exist. (The Spirit is still at work to enliven the hearts of people and draw them to their need for Christ.) Rather, churches that once targeted seekers are finding that portions of subsequent generations do not have any religious memory at all–and it is harder to appeal to their seeking. They are the “Nones” – those who, when asked about religious affiliation, check “none.” In a post-seeker context, churches will have to create new models to lead their people to engage their neighbors who might not find appealing an invitation to church.
Secondly, churches in the next decade need to regain a confidence in the Gospel. The Apostle Paul wrote about the gospel that “the message of the cross is… God’s power to us who are being saved” (1 Cor 1:18, HCSB). Lots of people are talking about what the gospel is, why it matters, and how we are to understand it. I think that is because some are unsure of its merit–if it produced these consumer Christians, maybe we have misunderstood it. Perhaps they are right. I am convinced that churches must think through what the gospel is, and, as we seek to understand all of its implications, how we live it out. Too many have assumed that people in our culture understand the gospel. Sadly, I fear also that too many have been inoculated with a weakened presentation of it. In the future we need to make the Gospel more explicit.
Thirdly, Christians must (and I believe will) rethink discipleship.LifeWay Research is currently building off of the research released in The Shape of Faith to Come and Transformational Church to better understand personal discipleship. We are studying it in three languages and with the help of church leaders in multiple countries. Discipleship is not something that must be reinvented but refined. In the Great Commission from Matthew 28:20, Christ assigned part of the church’s work to be: “teaching them [disciples] to observe everything I have commanded you.” Once we have a person who has crossed the threshold of faith, our work is not done. We need to engage believers in worthwhile disciplines rather than just intellectual downloads. The work of making disciples must involve a robust approach to the gospel’s implications to the whole of life.
Lastly, churches will need to engage in new innovations–thinking through them, considering their implications, and implementing them when appropriate. These can include trends like multisite, ministry-based evangelism, and globally and locally serving those in need. OK, so some of these are not new, but they are finding new life for new generations of believers.
Perhaps ten years from now, the issues with which we are dealing will make these issues that I mentioned a long-gone memory, like Y2K. Hopefully, however, many of the churches will have addressed these areas so that the issues are long forgotten, rather than the individual churches.
The article is based, in part, on a talk I did on at the Evangelical Press Association. I used parts of it to, I hope, minister to the readership of Outreach Magazine.
Christmas is only a few days away, but for aspiring church planters preparing to launch, it’s time to think about Easter!
If you’ve decided to make Easter your launch day in order to take advantage of the natural surge in church attendance, you might want to reconsider your approach. Here’s why.
It is very common for a new church to experience a significant drop in attendance the week after its public launch. I usually tell planters that if their attendance for the second week is 50 percent of the launch week, they are doing well. However, if the launch Sunday is Easter, the week two drop will be even more severe and a real momentum buster.
On the other hand, churches that have chosen to launch one, two, or three weeks prior to Easter have found that Easter becomes a momentum builder. A pre-Easter launch allows the new church to have two events in a short span of time that make it easier to invite unchurched friends and family members. The launch itself, followed in a week or two by the natural Easter surge, keeps relational momentum headed in the right direction.
Now, if you’ve already locked in your plans and are laser focused on an Easter opening day, fret not! Over the life of the church, the most important activity and focus should be making disciples. If your disciple-making relationships are healthy and disciples who make disciples are being made, you’ve already got the most important momentum on your side. Keep loving God with all your heart and loving people with all His strength.
This post from churchplanting.com
I have found that it is often helpful to have practical ideas to start engaging the people around me. Most of the things on this list are normal, everyday things that many people are already doing. The hope is that we would do these things with Gospel intentionality. This means we do them:
- In the normal rhythms of life pursuing to meet and engage new people
- Prayerfully watching and listening to the Holy Spirit to discern where God is working.
- Looking to boldly, humbly, and contextually proclaim the Gospel in word and deed.
Below is a list of my top 25. The full list of 100 is available to download here. Not all of these are for everyone, but hopefully there will be several ideas on the list that God uses to help you engage your neighbors. Would love to hear stories of how you have lived some of these out or other ways you have engaged your neighbors.
1. Stay outside in the front yard longer while watering the yard
2. Walk your dog regularly around the same time in your neighborhood
3. Sit on the front porch and letting kids play in the front yard
4. Pass out baked goods (fresh bread, cookies, brownies, etc.)
5. Invite neighbors over for dinner
6. Attend and participate in HOA functions
7. Attend the parties invited to by neighbors
8. Do a food drive or coat drive in winter and get neighbors involved
9. Have a game night (yard games outside, or board games inside)
10. Art swap night – bring out what you’re tired of and trade with neighbors
11. Grow a garden and give out extra produce to neighbors
12. Have an Easter egg hunt on your block and invite neighbors use their front yards
13. Start a weekly open meal night in your home
14. Do a summer BBQ every Friday night and invite others to contribute
15. Create a block/ street email and phone contact list for safety
16. Host a sports game watching party
17. Host a coffee and dessert night
18. Organize and host a ladies artistic creation night
19. Organize a tasting tour on your street (everyone sets up food and table on front porch)\
20. Host a movie night and discussion afterwards
21. Start a walking/running group in the neighborhood
22. Start hosting a play date weekly for other stay at home parents
23. Organize a carpool for your neighborhood to help save gas
24. Volunteer to coach a local little league sports team
25. Have a front yard ice cream party in the summer
Do you have some other ideas or ways that you or your Missional Community have engaged your neighborhood? Let us know below in the Comments section!
Missional Tip: Pick one of these ideas and act on it this week. Let us know in the Comments Section how it went!
Josh Reeves is the Lead Planting Pastor with Redeemer Church in Round Rock, Texas. One way you can thank Josh for his helpful articles is to support Redeemer by going here. – This post originally appeared on externallyfocusednetwork.org
Launching too soon with too few people is still the # 1 reason new churches fail.
New churches need a proper gestation period before birth. Birthed too soon places the new church in a “crisis mode” from Day One, and quickly drains money and morale.
While many people are anxious to start as soon as possible, somehow fearing they will miss the opportunity, I’ve rarely seen a church suffer from waiting until the appropriate time.
These days launching with just a few people, will only produce a “few more.”
Quoted from Jim Griffith from www.griffithcoaching.com
Church planting leaders from across the RCA and CRC gathered November 15-17 to share about how the planting collaboration is bearing fruit in four “Kingdom Enterprise Zones” across the US.
The collaboration is funded by a grant from the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, which solidifies and expands the church planting efforts of the two denominations.
Leaders from the “Kingdom Enterprise Zones” (KEZ) gathered along with leadership from the RCA and CRC to share the successes and challenges encountered in the four zones: Florida; the San Francisco/Sacramento area, Phoenix and Tuscon, Arizona, and Wyoming, Michigan.
The Wyoming KEZ is the only zone focused on a small, landlocked area. One of the leadership team’s goal is to have one central church with many different expressions. The Michigan city of over 72,000 has a number of RCA and CRC churches; many of which are in decline. Randy Weener, classis leader of the RCA’s South Grand Rapids Classis, said, “We’re talking about one church in Wyoming with six different expressions–a tightly networked group centered around common mission, vision and values.”
In Wyoming, team leaders are working with school and civic officials as well as existing RCA and CRC churches to create a broad, missional footprint in the city. “We want to get from an image of decline to one of growth and vibrancy,” said Tom Swieringa, a CRC pastor and co-leader of the Wyoming KEZ.
Church planters in Florida have a different challenge: how to reach out over a geographic area of over 800 miles. One of the biggest positives from the joint collaboration effort, according to Stan Workman, pastor of Oasis Community Church (CRC) in Oakland, Florida, is that “we’ve finally started talking together after over 25 years of just existing, sometimes right across town from each other.”
With so few existing RCA and CRC churches in the state, the Florida KEZ is exploring and tapping into more local resources, and showing lots of creativity in dealing with a widely dispersed group that covers many miles and many different people groups (winter residents, year-round residents, and racial/ethnic communities).
Richard Caballero, pastor of Longview Community Church (RCA) in Phoenix, said the main problem facing their joint church planting effort is, “We have lots of potential, but we need people to make it happen.” A challenge in their area is to integrate the Anglo and Hispanic cultures as well as connecting with the winter residents.
The collaboration between the two denominations has re-energized pastors to focus more on building the kingdom. ”This has freed me up and allowed me a chance to get to know more non-Christians,” said James Hildebrand, pastor of The Gathering (CRC) in Tucson, Arizona. The leadership team also committed to continue working together across denominational lines even if the funding runs out for this particular initiative.
In the San Francisco/Sacramento area, existing RCA and CRC churches already have structures and programs in place, and are working on fueling church planting in new areas in the next 15-20 years, according to Paul Vander Klay, pastor of Living Stones CRC in Sacramento, California. “What will it mean for the RCA and CRC to start at the ground floor in a new urban area?,” he said.
The collaboration effort is also seeing results in networking growth, according to Vander Klay. “The KEZ is clearly enhancing all of our networks; we’re discovering networks and meeting people, and connecting many of the networks. It’s an enormously exciting thing.”
Tim Vink, church multiplication coordinator for the RCA, pointed out that all of the Kingdom Enterprise Zones are actively planting churches, which is one of the main goals of the collaboration grant. “It feels like we moved very quickly into the ability to plant multiple sustainable churches,” he said.
Even though the grant focused on church planting growth and collaboration, Larry Doornbos, leader of the CRC church planting and leadership development team, feels the impact has been much greater. “We aimed at a multiplication goal but this whole thing has brought new branding, identity, revitalization, focus on mission to both new and existing churches. It’s really brought new energy and passion,” he said.
The four Kingdom Enterprise Zones will continue working together through June 30, 2012, and possibly beyond. The RCA and CRC are continuing to investigate further funding options to supplement the work of the existing KEZs and to support the work of future Kingdom Enterprise Zones.
Please be in prayer today for our leadership summit as we gather key leaders from all over the Great Lakes Region of the Reformed Church in America to discuss the formation of the Luminex Collaborative. Communities of leaders gathering together to start and strengthen churches that multiply the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!