Learning to Love Church Planting

I was part of a live interview yesterday with Innovate 4 Jesus on the topic of church planting, calling and the difficulty of planting. If you weren’t able to watch it, you can watch it below.

It was a ton of fun and I hope it is helpful to you.

My blog will be moving in a few weeks and I don’t want you to miss anything. Simply click here to subscribe via email so that I can serve you better and continue to help you grow to become who God created you to be.

Join Me Today on Innovate 4 Jesus

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Join me this Today, June 24 at 2 pm EDT / 11 am PDT live on Innovate 4 Jesus as I join Holly Snell and Justin Blaney as we talk about church planting and surviving as a church planter and leader.

Have questions about this topic? Tweet your questions with #I4JLIVE or comment in the blog post here.

My blog will be moving in a few weeks and I don’t want you to miss anything. Simply click here to subscribe via email so that I can serve you better and continue to help you grow to become who God created you to be.

Why You Make Poor Decisions

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In today’s culture, organizations and churches must be flexible, nimble and quick. Otherwise, you will be left in the dust. Opportunities come flying at you that you don’t want to miss.

This is true.

Here is something that makes leadership in this day and age difficult: fast decisions are usually poor decisions. 

Most of the time, when we make fast decisions it is because we haven’t done our research and have waited til the last minute. I’ve told my leaders before, if you come to me with an idea and say, “I need an answer now” without letting me think about it, the answer will always be no.

Are there exceptions? Sure, there are almost always exceptions.

Think in your life, most decisions you had to make were often poor decisions. They weren’t though out, they didn’t see the downsides, the alleviated the wrong things, maybe bringing short term comfort instead of a long-term win.

Instead, smart leaders look ahead and plan ahead. They aren’t caught running behind or having to make last minute decisions. They plan well.

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Book Notes | Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches

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Wess Stafford, President and CEO of Compassion International said,

I can think of many Christian organizations that have lost their spiritual commitment. I can’t think of one secular organization that found its way to a Christian commitment. Any leader who inherits a strong Christian commitment must shepherd the culture and steward that commitment.

In a nutshell, that’s why this new book by Peter Greer and Chris Horst Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches is so important. Having just preached a vision series at Revolution and going through a process of re-clarifying the win or why of Revolution Church, this book was incredibly refreshing to read, as well as incredibly challenging as I think through the task of keeping the mission clear, putting things into place to protect this clarity and keeping everyone on the same page.

The stories they tell of organizations who less than 50-100 years ago who were Mission True and had a clear Christian identity, to now simply collecting money is scary.

Here are a few things that stood out to me:

  • Without careful attention, faith-based organizations will inevitably drift from their founding mission.
  • According to studies, 95% of Christian organizations said mission drift was a challenging issue for them.
  • Mission True organizations know why they exist and protect their core at all costs. They remain faithful to what they believe God has entrusted them to do. They define what is immutable: their values and purposes, their DNA, their heart and soul.
  • Mission True organizations decide that their identity matters and then become fanatically focused on remaining faithful to this core.
  • If we aren’t entirely convinced that our Christian faith is essential to our work, then we won’t be willing to make the tough decisions to fight for it.
  • It’s often Christians who seem most likely to be the biggest critics of bold Christian distinctiveness in our organizations.
  • Mission drift is a daily battle.
  • Mission True organizations know who they are and actively safeguard, reinforce, and celebrate their DNA. Leaders constantly push toward higher levels of clarity about their mission and even more intentionality about protecting it.
  • The single greatest reason for mission drift is the lack of a clear mission and vision.
  • If leaders aren’t bleeding the mission, drift will always trickle down.
  • When we begin to see our priority as a growing ministry, instead of a faithful one, we sow the seeds of drift.
  • Leaders always act in accordance with their beliefs.
  • Mission True organizations find a way of stating and measuring what they believe matters most.
  • What’s not measured slowly becomes irrelevant.

Highly, highly recommend this book to any pastor or leader who works with a non-profit.

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All In Starts in 2 Weeks!

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Everyone wants their lives to matter, yet most people live in obscurity and rarely accomplish what God created them to accomplish.

Why?
The risk is great, but the payoff is even greater.
But what happens when a group of people go all in and put it all on the line for Jesus?
A world is changed.
Join us at Revolution Church as we spend 4 weeks leading up to Easter and look at how to go all in so that our lives matter and we see others live the life God created them to live.

March 23: Why Go All In

March 30: Giving All I’ve Got

April 6: Asking for it All

April 13: This is How we Change the World

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Monday Morning Mind Dump… [Lunch Edition]

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  • The past 3 weeks have been a growing time for me personally as a husband and father, but also as a pastor
  • I’ve really enjoyed preaching specifically to women in our Beautiful series
  • I tweeted out that all pastors should do a series for women, if only to learn more clearly the struggles the women in their church go through
  • It created some great conversations in our missional communities
  • The response from women about the conversations they are having with their spouse or the things they are wrestling through personally has been overwhelming
  • Definitely what we prayed this series would do
  • If you missed yesterday as I walked through Proverbs 31, you can listen to it here
  • Paul and I spent a day last week learning about taking Revolution to multiple sites
  • So excited for the future of church planting at Revolution
  • What was once just wishful thinking 5 years ago (having more than one Revolution Church) is getting closer to a reality
  • So excited for Fight to kick off this week
  • Seriously, if you have been wanting to invite a guy to church, this is the week to do it
  • I took Gavin to a U of A basketball game last night
  • Such a fun daddy date
  • He couldn’t get over how cool it was
  • One of the things I love about this time of year is being able to watch the Olympics with the kids
  • They are so intense
  • Pretty excited because we are celebrating a birthday in our house today and going to see The Lego Movie
  • Heard great reviews about it
  • Speaking of movies
  • Katie and I went to see Lone Survivor on Friday night
  • Wow
  • So moving
  • I was simply astounded by the courage of those men and others like them
  • Seriously, you need to see it
  • We are beginning the process of looking for a full-time children’s pastor at Revolution Church
  • This is such an important hire for our church
  • Planet Rev is exploding and I’m excited for this person to help take it to a new level
  • Last week, Katie and I spoke at MOPS about how to communicate and fight well
  • It was great to interact with that group of women and help to push some of their thinking
  • It was also incredible sad talking to many of them afterward and hearing story after story of brokenness in their own life, their husband or their marriage
  • Heartbreaking
  • All I could think of was, “Why don’t their pastors challenge their husbands more?”
  • It was a good reminder to me of one of the many things that are at stake every week at Revolution when I preach
  • The ripple effects of brokenness go for generations
  • Sorry to end this on a sad note
  • I need to do some lunchtime “Murph” in honor of Lone Survivor
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Christmas Offering Starts This Sunday @ Revolution

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Every year at Revolution Church we do a Christmas offering. This is a chance for our church to give above and beyond what it normally does and give it away to bless others and move the gospel forward in Tucson and beyond.

In years past, we’ve helped to build wells in Africa, help fight homelessness and sex trafficking in our city, and helped to plant churches in Tucson and around the world.

So far, we’ve given away over $20,000 away.

This year, we are hoping to raise over $10,000, which would be our largest Christmas offering ever.

Here are some things it will go to:

  • It will go to helping church plants in Tucson and beyond through Acts 29 (the church planting network we are a part of).
  • It will go to helping us as a church get closer to planting Revolution Church | Midtown. Lord willing, we will begin preview services in the fall of 2014 and officially launch in January 2015.
  • We will continue to fight sex trafficking in Tucson through Sold No More and around the world through A21.
  • We will continue to be a blessing to Magee Middle School (the school we meet in). So far, we’ve been able to do teacher appreciation lunches, new student lunches, bought them over 170,000 sheets of paper when they ran out and TUSD wouldn’t buy more paper and stock every teacher with markers for their classroom because the school couldn’t afford them.

You can give online here to it or on a Sunday morning by marking your giving envelope “Christmas.”

So, You Want to Plant a Church

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Because Revolution Church is connected to Acts 29, I talk to a lot of guys who want to plant a church. It is now the sexy thing to do. It used to be that you wanted to be a student pastor, work your way up to be the lead pastor of a church, but now more and more guys want to strike out on their own, make their own mistakes, do their thing. This is a good thing.

So, if that’s you and you are thinking about planting a church, here is what I’d tell you if we met for coffee:

  1. Be on staff somewhere first. I can’t believe the number of guys who have never been on staff at a church who are planting and getting funding from organizations for it. Guys from para-church or campus ministries with great hearts and leadership abilities, but church leadership is different. If you haven’t been on staff at a church, paid staff, you need to do that first. Watch, listen and learn. Spend time with the lead pastor, the executive pastor, ask to sit in on elder meetings to learn how to interact with elders, learn about the budget process, etc. Learn from the mistakes they’re making, the mistakes they’ve made in the past, learn what you don’t want to do and what you do want to do. While some of on staff experiences were hard, they taught me a lot about leadership and preaching.
  2. What does the church you work at last say about you? Are they supporting you? When a guy asks Revolution for money in planting a church, I want to know what the last church he worked at says about him and if they are supporting him financially. Some churches don’t support church planting and I’ll want the pastor to tell me that (not the guy asking for money). But what do they say about him? Do they affirm his gifts? Do they believe he is prepared? What do they say about his marriage and kids if he is married or has kids?
  3. Does your wife feel called to it? I talk about this more in depth here, but if you are married and your wife does not feel called to plant a church, you shouldn’t. You’ll say that God has clearly called you and it would be a sin not to. As the leader of your home, it would be a sin to make your wife plant a church if she doesn’t feel called to it. You married her. When we look for elders, we look at the wife and kids because that gives us an idea of the kind of disciples a man makes and then we ask, “Do we want more of those running around our church?” Your wife also knows your gifts, possibly better than you, and if she isn’t on board, that’s a sign.
  4. Know what kind of church you’ll plant. As a leader, you should have a vision and it needs to be bigger than planting a service. Too many guys want to just preach. If that’s you, don’t plant a church, become a professional speaker where you don’t have to shepherd people. What is your plan for worship, discipleship, community, mission, evangelism, follow up with guests, givers, new believers? If you can’t rattle off what you will do, you aren’t ready. Don’t just point to another church. They are in a different place, different part of the city, different state, led by a different guy. If you want to just do what they are doing, go to that church and help out.
  5. Be committed to pastoring, not being a rock star. Because church plants have grown quickly, although this is not the norm. We hear stories at conferences of the guys who parachute in and 10 years later have thousands of people, campuses all over the state and think, “I can do that.” Church planters are called to be pastors, not rock stars. Don’t plant with the goal of getting so big that you don’t have to pastor or care for anyone. That’s being in it for you and your glory, not God’s or being for the people God will send to you.

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Is Planning Ahead Biblical?

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Christians by nature seem to be against planning ahead when it comes to how they lead their churches. This isn’t the case in their personal lives or where they work, but something about planning ahead in church planting circles or churches seems unspiritual.

Most church planters by nature tend to be fly the seat of your pants kind of people, go with the flow as they create the flow kind of thing.

The problem is not only that most churches, programs and church plants fail because of lack of planning and foresight, but it is unbiblical.

I’ve been reading through Proverbs recently and I’ve been blown away by how many verses talk about planning and thinking ahead or getting advice from others. Here are just a few:

  • Where there is no guidance, the people fall; but in abundance of counselors there is victory. -Proverbs 11:14
  • A wise man thinks ahead; a fool doesn’t, and even brags about it. -Proverbs 13:16
  • Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed. -Proverbs 15:22
  • Make plans by seeking advice; if you wage war, obtain guidance. -Proverbs 20:18
  • The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty. -Proverbs 21:5
  • A prudent man foresees the difficulties ahead and prepares for them; the simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences. -Proverbs 22:3
  • Get the facts at any price, and hold on tightly to all the good sense you can get. -Proverbs 23:23
  • Any enterprise is built by wise planning, becomes strong through common sense, and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts. -Proverbs 24:3-4

Is it possible to plan God out of your church? Yes.

It is also possible to miss the work God wants to do because of poor planning.

Opportunities are missed because a budget wasn’t put together or stuck to. I’ve talked to countless pastors who aren’t able to do ministry they’d like to because of poor financial planning.

Services grow stale because a pastor and worship pastor can’t plan ahead and be on the same page. When this happens, pastors preach the same topics and worship leaders sing the same songs.

Church plants fail because planters haven’t gotten funding, thought through models or began hastily out of a reaction to a past church experience or anger. The destruction that has befallen families because of poor planning in church planting circles are too numerous to list.

A wise leader goes to God, has a plan, works from a plan, is willing to modify that plan as life unfolds. A wise leader never walks into a situation unsure about what to do.

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Why Revolution Church is Part of Acts 29

My church, Revolution Church, is a part of a global church-planting network called Acts 29. I can’t say enough about my excitement for the network, what it has done for our church and what it is doing around the world. Here’s a short video from the President of the Network, Matt Chandler, describing why we’re a part of Acts 29.