Tag Archives: church planting

Missional Momentum

Over the last couple years I’ve had the opportunity to sit with a number of pastors seeking to increase the missional posture of their church. As expected, this has proven to be easier for some than others, and more of an art form than a science.

But among the many variables, we’re beginning to see a few common threads emerge among those seeming to gain “missional momentum”. Here are the top three practices we’ve observed:

1. Those pursuing the “and” of EXALTATION and INCARNATION.

As church leaders we often make the mistake of thinking what we do on Sunday and what we do throughout the week operate independent of one another. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the majority of our weekday ministries pick up where Sunday leaves off. Missional momentum seems to be directly impacted by how effectively we utilize our gatherings to give bible precedence, priority of vision, and permission for our people to live on mission throughout the week.

2. Those discovering new ways to ENGAGE the NEEDS of their community.

Missional flow draws attention to the natural process necessary to engage an “unreached” people group. It starts with (1) engaging culture, then (2) forming community (on mission), followed by (3) creating structure or congregation. At the very core of a biblically missional effort lies a demand to engage culture. We simply cannot engage culture without engaging the needs of culture. Churches gaining the most momentum seem to be those utilizing existing structures to meet the needs of their community – as much as – or even prior to their own.

3. Those recognizing what they CAN’T do and HELPING others who CAN.

Many church leaders today are starting from a good place: Reality. For some, the ship they are trying to turn makes the titanic look like a two man raft. In their wisdom and experience they are piloting groups rather than blowing up ministries and starting over. They are pioneering new strategies through existing structures. But they know it will take time… and they can’t do it all at once.

This is where church planting and partnering with existing ministries or non-profits comes to play. A surprising amount of missional momentum is being found by churches committed to help others plant churches or who are willing to partner with those already engaging the needs of culture in ways they’d find difficult to do themselves.

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Church Planting: New Paradigms, New Metrics.

Earlier I mentioned a great blog posted by Jonathan Dodson on Four Ways Church Planting Training Must Change. I’d like to offer three “tweaks” to our thinking that must accompany his points. First, here’s a quick review:

1. We need to offer both information and experience-based training.

2. We need to train planters on both traditional “core teams” and non-traditional missional teams.

3. We need to equip planters to preach and to cultivate gospel-renewing environments

4. We need to cast vision for planters who plant not isolated churches but networked churches that partner for regional and urban renewal.

Based on what we’ve learned and experienced over the last few years of church planting, I think most of us would agree that each point would be beneficial. However, of all the benefits placing these four strategies into our training will gain, success according to many of our current metric is not one of them. Bottom line, success of these things are hard to measure.

A new way of training must come with a new way of thinking. In order to create sustainable models that embrace these changes there are at least three more tweaks we need to embrace:

1.  A New System/Standard for Funding: While many of our historic church planting strategies have come with a ton of up front money, the issue often comes in year three where the church has a breakthrough opportunity yet lack the resources to actually break through. The pressure to “arrive” before the money runs out can ruin a ministry and compromise a vision. Many of today’s training leaders are considering an “infusion” model of funding where the resources given up front are less but come with the understanding that more resources will be infused as growth deems necessary. Often we make early decisions based on resources we have, not on what we might have. Infusing funding along the way keeps in lean when it needs to be lean. This model of funding creates a second change we need to consider:

2. A New Time-line: Launching big happens. But it’s become more difficult to do, and is happening less and less in certain contexts. If our desire is to begin a faith community out of culture that transforms culture from the inside out, it will take time. While reaching Christians  can come quickly, cultivating new relationships from those far from Christ is a slow process. If these relationships are to be authentic, it cannot be rushed.

3. A New Scorecard for Success: We often talk about this, yet it’s difficult to embrace. We tie so much credibility to a leader (and ourselves) by how church is growing. We must realize that church grows in ways beyond Sunday morning. While measuring transformation and life change is difficult, it is possible to track community groups, those serving outside the church, what and how much we commit to mission, and how often we engage in Kingdom partnerships. All are significant qualities, yet are all ignored by the attendance report from Sunday.

These are just a few things that seem to be a frequent part of the conversation, what things have YOU seen that have changed or need to change in order to embrace a new paradigm for church planting?


Four Ways Church Planting Training Must Change

My friend Jonathan Dodson, pastor of Austin City Life, wrote a recent blog on Four Ways Church Planting Training must change. I think it’s good so I thought I’d share…

“With missional ecclesiology in full swing, many of the current missional training structures are becoming outdated. If church planting networks and organizations are going to continue to stimulate deep, sustained mission to all kinds of peoples, then some our training structures will have to change…. click HERE to continue reading.


Leading in Fear

As a church planter, I think I have a new and fresh understanding of what it means to live in the “fear of the Lord”. I really don’t mean that in an arrogant “knowledge” kind of way… it’s really a type of confession. It’s a constant and crazy mix of confidence and intentionality wrapped up in a little bit of insecurity and wonder. And God’s hand or presence being removed is my greatest fear. I guess that’s why my study today in 1 Samuel 13 struck such a chord with me. Two verses stood out like they were written in a different font:

“You acted foolishly,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’s command.” 1 Samuel 13:13-14

What more can you say? There is a ton of power in these two verses. In these words are both found (1) hope and (2) consequence. The hope is that God is not passive… He is not detained… He will not only SEEK out a man after his own heart, but He will find one in David. He’ll find it in the least expected: a young shepherd boy. The consequence is that since Saul did not seek God out prior to going to battle or prior to selecting his men, it would not be him labeled as one who sought after God’s own heart. He tried… after the fact. He tried to commit to the Lord something he had already done. But it was too late.

So as church leaders our promise of hope and our warning of consequence is this: May we always be those who seek after God’s own heart. And may we never venture forward prior to God’s leading or void of His way.