Starting A Church From Scratch

We are in discussion about helping some friends start their church, and so I am writing this post as a way of getting my thoughts together as a set of basic instructions. In my other posts, I covered a lot of perspectives and pitfalls which I would be of interest to those who are in the middle of it, but in this post, I am going to cover things you would want to know from the “ground up.” This is different from a church plant that you start with a group from another church. This is a church that Read more [...]

The Institutional Church

It is very popular in some circles to criticize the institutional church. What's funny is which circles it's most popular with: radical Christians, some pastors, unhealthy Christians, and unbelievers. Three circles that would seem to have little in common. First, let's take pastors. Not all pastors are critics of the "church" -- many are on the opposite end, but I must say that I have been in more than one service in more than one place where the pastor starts rolling out the Barna statistics explaining Read more [...]

Church Planting Principles II

Here are a few more points about church planting, as a sequel to my last note. Most of the principles on this list are closely interrelated.   1.  More people will leave you than will stay with you. I know this sounds mathematically impossible, but it's actually the case. Most people that come will only be with you for a season, they will not be long term co-planters.  There are different groups of these: A.  Visitors.  They come for a week or a few weeks and just don't really connect. B.  Read more [...]

What You Need To Know About Church Planting

I've been involved in church planting for 8 years, but I realized that I've never done any formal study on the subject.  After all they don't teach this kind of stuff in seminary (usually, apart from a special course). Too often, seminary is about parsing Greek verbs and understanding the filioque, not about the things that make you a good ministry leader. That means that the real training ends up happening on the job. There is all kinds of "folk knowledge" possessed by experienced pastors and ministry Read more [...]

Why People Aren’t Getting Married

There are a lot of young Christian people out there who aren't getting married. It's a borderline epidemic. It was not always this way. It is a problem associated with our time and culture, and we're not doing enough to address it. Why aren't people getting married?   1. The Courtship Philosophy. Honestly, I think the problem is partly of our own making. Especially since the rise of the courtship movement we've been sending young Christians the message that they should not be pursuing a relationship Read more [...]

Action Teams

Advancing God's Kingdom is a multifaceted an seemingly overwhelming responsibility at times. We look at what needs to be done and we are staggered with the enormity of "How can I do all of this" You can't. That's why you need a fellowship of people who each do a part. And ideally set it up so that their part doesn't have to go on indefinitely. First, let's identify three kinds of people in the church. People to whom you are ministering. People who growing by helping build ministries People Read more [...]

An Empowering Ministry Model

Maybe you read the last post and you are thinking, "This guy must be house church." Or "He doesn't know how much work being a pastor is." I'm not, and I do. I'm just realizing that the core problem we need to solve is how to give rather than consolidate responsibilities. What's needed is a new conception of the leader of the church. So I'm working through an alternative model of how to enable people to grow. Here are my working thoughts. The leader of the church should be the conductor of the Read more [...]

Paid Pastor Problems

If you've been around enough churches you know that the perennial problem is getting everyone involved. Pastors look for strategies to get people involved, but sometimes it feels like pretty much nothing you can do, outside of becoming a cult, will get more than 20% of people doing anything. The team and I have been reflecting on this lately, and I'm starting to have some thoughts about what needs to happen. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to hit some sacred cows. The firs thing is that I think Read more [...]

Wesleyan Revival Structures

Much has been said of "Apostolic Movements" of late. These are supposed to be a restoration of the pattern of the first apostles. Too often these "apostolic" movements are just large churches built around an extraordinary leader who has planted a few satellites. What is needed is an explosive first century style revival movement, where the Gospel spreads like a flame so fast that can not be extinguished. I believe the closest thing we have to a well documented apostolic movement in modern times is Read more [...]

Strategic Evangelism

To all of the observations in the last post, I would like to add one more that I believe is usually missed: evangelism is a team sport. In fact, when you look at the Biblical metaphor of the lost person as a "slave" to the world, evangelism is more like a prison break. If you were to break someone out of prison, you would very unlikely do it all on your own. You would develop a plan, marshall your resources, and spring the person out. I suggest that we do the same thing. This is what I'm Read more [...]

Survey of Evangelism Methods

There are several major theories of evangelism out there. Fundamentalist Evangelism - This method became popular in the early part of the 20th century and has carried on in conservative groups down to this day. The basic approach is that everyone must hear the gospel. It involves going door to door, passing out tracts, or accosting people on the street. The goal of each of these encounters is to get someone to pray a prayer of salvation with you. This generally requires a lot of stamina and courage Read more [...]

Thoughts on Being Charismatic

How do you strike the balance between being a wild charismatic church and a dead one? I think there are a number of underlying tensions that must be explored. 1. Hunger. I firmly believe that we are supposed to "earnestly seek the Spiritual gifts, especially prophecy" The orientation of pursuit of a deeper supernatural encounter with God is critical. Yet, the difficulty is that this is a defining feature of the Charismatic thing we don't want to be. We need to be able to distinguish the healthy Read more [...]

Starting a Revolution

Part of what is on my heart is a shift in the current Church culture because of the changed lives that will result: A "Reformation" or a "Revolution" Starting a revolution requires several key components. 1. The right cultural moment. Every indication around us is that many many in the Church are very hungry and don't know where to turn. 2. A highly dedicated and persistent group of men. 3. A message. These men unite around a core set of principles. Specifically they agree about what needs Read more [...]

The ‘Come Follow Me’ Principle

Discipleship is a thorny and difficult to discuss issue in the Body of Christ. First of all there is argument about the actual meaning of the word "discipleship." Some people think of it as a state of personal total submission to God. You have "discipleship" when you are a sold out believer. This is generally what's meant by the book by Dietrich Bonhoffer "The Cost of Discipleship." Additionally people may think of it as a personal process of submission to God. On the other hand others Read more [...]

The Conversion Process

Since the advent of the Reformation the Church has recognized the importance of being converted, born again, etc. However our understanding of what this process is and means has gone through a long development process. In the early days of the Reformation, everyone in a locale went to church, so they were always preaching real conversion to those who attended. They expected this conversion to be a process, not a definite moment per se. In the 19th century Finney began to place an emphasis on a Read more [...]

Theology and Control

A friend, struggling with making a wise decision about a career move, told me recently, “The other day I prayed that I wish God had made me a robot so He could just tell me what to do and I could obey. Then I’d feel secure.” This made me reflect on the issue of control, and God’s dealings with it. Historically, control in the sense my friend was talking about has not been a good thing. I’m not sure which came first, the chicken or the egg, but it seems that God did not make us to be Read more [...]

Because He Loved Not the Bretheren

One of the truly notable men of faith of the 20th century was Jack Coe. He moved in a realm of miraculous healings that his otherwise impressive peers of the 50's only wished they could. Sadly, he died at age 38 of an illness that he had seen many people healed of. Before his death a prophecy was given that he had to correct three areas of his life, or his ministry would be cut short. The first of these was that he "loved not the bretheren." Unquestionably he loved the lost, but his esteem for other Read more [...]

Unity

One of the themes of the Latter Rain was unity. The idea developed that if you could have everyone in one accord, you would go much deeper in the Spirit, and that discord was deadly to God's purposes. The analogy was made with the Tower of Babel--because they had perfect unity they could do anything. The Tower of Babel is not a particularly good place to find ideas that please God, but clearly Jesus did pray for his people to be in unity in John. So I do think there is something powerful when you Read more [...]

Home/Cell Groups

One idea that his been floating around the church for about 30 years, but it still amorphous is the "home group" or "cell group." The two are not synonymous although they may the same thing in a particularly incarnation. A cell church is really a church of churches. This cell idea was popularized by Paul Yonggi Cho's Korean megachurch, and has been a part of other megachurches especially in the less economically developed areas. In addition there is the idea of the "home church" which is based on Read more [...]

Pastors and Narcissism

Most people forever live on the follower side of leadership. On the follower side, it's easy to criticize because you do not have the responsibilities or understand the special temptations which relate to it, much less have to face them. One of the special temptations or weaknesses associated with the pastoral role is what the world calls Narcissism. Although I probably will use the term a bit creatively, I think it's a good umbrella for a specific and real pastoral pitfall. I had a pastor once Read more [...]

A Vision of Church

No Substitutes I believe the church in America is in a moment of transition and also in a moment of emerging hunger, and the current season of my life has caused me to share in this hunger. I have been exposed to radically different expressions of what church is supposed to be, and while each has elements which I cherish, none is really satisfying. A new paradigm must emerge which leverages the best of existing paradigms and perhaps other features which have not yet been introduced to the church. The Read more [...]