- Jim Tomberlin on 125 tips for multisite churches and those who want to be. This is a free e-book that is definitely worth picking up if this is something you are thinking about. I know I got a lot out of it.
- Mark Driscoll on To hell with hell? Great insights into what Scripture has to say about death, what happens after death and hell.
- Don’t advertise your church until it is worth advertising.
- Seth Godin on The difference between a manager and a leader.
- Kevin DeYoung reviews Rob Bell’s new book. If you are planning to read Rob’s book, then you need to read this review which is spot on theologically.
- Tim Keller on Are religions equally right? This 5 minute video is worth watching if you’ve ever asked this question or been asked this question.
- 5 ways to grow as a leader.
From the beginning of Revolution, one of our dreams is to be a reproducing church. Which means, we want everyone in Tucson to be within a 10 mile drive from a site of Revolution or a church we plant. We are beginning to make plans to send out our first plant or site in the next 2 years. Which has caused us to step back and ask, “How does that really happen? What needs to happen in terms of leadership development, community, discipleship and mission for that to happen?” Recently, as part of the stack of books I’m reading on this I came across Dave and Jon Ferguson’s book Exponential. They started Community Christian Church in Chicago and have launched sites and church plants all over the country through their NewThing Network.
The premise of the book is how a church creates a movement of churches that reach a city and ultimately the world. They point out that 2 numbers is what drive them in their movement: 67 and 20. If the world were a village of 100 people, 67 would be far from God, facing a Christless existence. And 20 of the 100 people would be living in extreme poverty. It is our mission to reach the 67 and come alongside of the 20.
The book walks through how you create a system to develop leaders, communicators, church planters, campus pastors, artists, etc. One of the things that jumped out to me in this book, as well as in my other reading on reproducing churches is the intentionality that must be there. It must be proactive. You must plan to do it and not react to growth or a situation. While today as a church we are a church of 200, we want to plan, pray and raise money to not only grow but then send out people to start a movement on the other side of the city. This has impacted how we are thinking about our preaching over the coming year, how we will develop leaders to get there, to multiply everything we do, to make sure our systems are reproducible and simple enough to move to a second site and beyond.
Someone asked me the other day why we would do this since we aren’t that big as a church. I don’t think it is about size, but about vision and having the leadership to do it. Multiplication and church planting is a lot like having children, if you wait til you are ready and can afford them, no one would have them.
Here are a few things that jumped out:
- If you are open to God’s call on your life, God will use you and your friends to love the poor, feed the hungry, and bring Jesus to the people in your community who face a Christless eternity.
- When Jesus called people into discipleship, he was calling them for and preparing them to accomplish a mission.
- If you don’t have a dream that leads you to greater dependance on God, then you need to get a bigger dream.
- Two fears that keep churches off mission and away from multiplying: fear of failure and fear of loss.
- Apprenticeship is not about finding people who can help us do tasks more effectively. We’re not talking about preparing people to simply replace us so we can move on to something else. At the heart of biblical apprenticeship is a mindset of reproduction: reproducing our leadership so the mission will be carried on to future generations.
- The essentials to building a missional movement: reproduce more and betters leaders. Reproduce more and better artists.
- Churches that multiply and create a movement believe that the mission of Jesus will be accomplished.
- Churches should grow out of mission, not the other way around.
- Developing coaches (leaders of leaders) may be the single most overlooked yet vital task in spreading a missional movement.
- Leaders reproduce – they reproduce Christ followers, artists, leaders, small groups, celebration services, campuses, and churches throughout their city and around the world. Without strong leadership and a firm grasp of the value of reproduction, churches begin to grow stale and get desperate or die (or in most cases, both).
This was a great book and one that is a must read if you want to grow a reproducing church and start a movement in your city.
- 5 reasons men cheat and how to stay faithful. This is based on a Gallup study and put out by Men’s Health. Interesting how biblical there 5 ways to stay faithful are and some good stuff to think about. The best thing Katie and I have done besides a weekly date night is setting up boundaries.
- Andy Crouch on the Ten most significant cultural trends of the last decade. Huge implications to ministry in the church as we try to reach the culture.
- Living gospel centered. You need to read this post.
- Watch this great video with Scott Thomas and Jeff Vanderstelt talking about what living on mission looks like.
- Trevin Wax on Reframing the discussion on homosexuality and the Bible. This is one of the best things I’ve read on this topic. Wow.
- Rest and the pastor’s soul.
- C.J. Mahaney on What the bible says about productivity. This was a really helpful thing for me, lots of great things in this short e-book.
- Luke Simmons on Leadership development. Luke is a good friend and has been to Revolution several times to preach and he has some great insights.
- Perry Noble on 6 steps to overcoming obesity Part 1 and Part 2. I’ve shared my journey and struggle with my weight before and Perry is right on when he says being overweight is a spiritual issue first.
- 17 signs of a fast growing church.
- John Starke on Teaching children the gospel in everyday prayers.
- Church trends with Jim Tomberlin. This has been a great series by Tony Morgan on what leaders see as the coming trends in church, this one in particular caught my eye.
I often get asked by people about setting goals. It is kind of a funny thing, but many Christians and leaders think that it is wrong to set goals, at least when it comes to church. I think for some setting goals seems unspiritual. For me, I like goals because it gives me a direction to go, a way to gauge how I’m doing, etc. Too many people will start off the year and say, “I want to lose weight, get out debt” but won’t set a timeline or a plan to get there. Consequently, they won’t get there because it won’t just happen.
In case you are curious, here are my goals for 2011:
- To complete our adoption.
- To finish my weight loss journey and get below 160 (and stay there).
- To read 50 books.
- For Revolution to pass 350.
- To begin plans to launch our first church plant or 2nd site out of Revolution.
- To continue dating Katie every week.
- To get away with Katie for several days without kids.
- Preach 44 times at Revolution (thus giving an opportunity to hear other voices).
- Take 12 retreat days to be alone with God.
- Take each of my kids on a daddy date once a month.
- Do you have extra time over the holidays? Need something to do? Here are some great talks centered around the values of “The Man, The Mission and The Message” from Acts 29. Great stuff.
- Leading up to Passion 2010, they are having days of prayer to focus everyone who is going. You can follow along here.
- USA Today recently examined the multi-site church trend.
- Seth Godin and 69 other authors are giving away a free ebook called “What Matters Now.”
- Preaching and the clock. My opinion on preaching has always been, “Study as hard as you can, step onto the stage prayed up and prepared as possible and take as long as you need to get your 1 point across. Sometimes that is 60 minutes, sometimes it is 30.”
- Paul Ingram on Being in Tucson for 1 year. It is crazy that it has been a year, it has only just begun.
- The art of leadership. Leadership is an art form that needs to be developed and shaped.
- John Piper’s new book on the book of Ruth: A Sweet and Bitter Providence.
As we move through this transition at Beginnings, I am personally looking at our move to Mt. View as replanting the church, so I thought I would do some reading on church planting. On top of that, one of my dreams is that we would launch a new satellite site or plant a new church in Tucson every other year, at a minimum (I hope it is more than that). But I want everyone in Tucson to be 10 miles away from one of our sites. I have always respected and read a lot of Ed Stetzer’s stuff and his book on church planting is considered a “bible” in church planting circles. It was also great to use this book as credit for my reading with class.
His book Breaking the missional code is a great read for making a church missional, and a must read for any church leader. This books takes the leap from what you need to do from the beginning for that to be a reality. Here are some of the takeaways I got from the book:
Studies show that the higher the standards of biblical teaching, the longer people remain engaged. Today’s seekers are seeking depth. They won’t interrupt a fine Sunday morning of sleeping in to attend a church that serves up shallowness, at least not for long.
Establishing a missional church means that you plant a church that’s part of the culture you’re seeking to reach.
Missional is the posture – the way in church we approach people in culture – but incarnational describes what’s actually happening.
For the church, it’s always easier to adopt church-culture norms rather than prevailing-culture norms.
We apply the pragmatic test to the work of a theologian. Does his theology motivate men to go into all the world and make disciples? Does it so undergird them that they, thus motivated, succeed in this primary purpose? Theology must stand the test of being known by its fruit.
In Acts 17, the apostle Paul did four things in his effort to be culturally relevant: (1) He understood the Athenians’ position on reality, (2) He understood the Athenians underlying spiritual interest, (3) He looked for positive points within their worldview, and (4) He encouraged them to find true fulfillment in Christ.
Mission is the mother of theology.
Culturally appropriate evangelism answers the actual questions being asked by a given culture rather than those questions the church believes the culture should ask.
Andy Stanley, pastor of North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, says that “Sunday morning is for communicating, not couseling. In fact – and to some this may sound unspiritual – I don’t think you can actually build a church on people who need counseling. When your church has grown and you have more resources, then those people can come back and be helped by the ministry you’ve built.”
The ten most frequent traits of impactful, emerging postmodern churches are: (1) Being unashamedly spiritual, (2) Promoting incarnational ministry, (3) Engaging in service, (4) Valuing experiential praise, (5) Preaching narrative expository messages, (6) Appreciating and participating in ancient patterns, (7) Visualizing worship, (8) Connecting with technology, (9) Living community, and (10) Leading by transperancy and team.
For worship to promote evangelism, Sally Morgenthaler says it must include four elements: “nearness – an awareness of the presence of God; knowledge – worship that is centered on who Christ is; vulnerability – worship that involves opening up to God; and interaction – participating in the worship of God.”
George Gallup found that 70% of Americans say that the church is not meeting their needs. When asked what these needs were, there were six responses: (1) To believe life is meaningful and has purpose, (2) To have a sense of community and deeper relationships, (3) To be appreciated and respected, (4) To be listened to and heard, (5) To grow in faith, and (6) To receive practical help in developing a mature faith.
Church growth expert Win Arn lists 8 characteristics of an “incorporated member”: (1) New members should be able to list at least 7 new friends they have made in the church, (2) New members should be able to identify their spiritual gifts, (3) New members should be involved in at least one (preferably several) roles/tasks/ministries in the church, appropriate to their spiritual gifts, (4) New members should be actively involved in a small fellowship group, (5) New members should demonstrate a regular financial commitment to the church, (6) New members should personally understand and identify church goals, (7) New members should attend worship gatherings regularly, and (8) New members should identify unchurched friends and relatives and take specific steps to help them toward responsible church membership.
If you read one book on church planting, this is it. It has everything you would need to know.
Even though this has one of the lamest book covers I have ever seen, it was a great read. Here are a few of the things that jumped out:
- Today’s high-expectation churches act on a parallel set of assumptions. Instead of emphasizing a member’s obligation to support that congregation, these worshiping communities concentrate on helping individuals progress from skeptic or seeker to believer to learner to disciple to apostle. They challenge every pilgrim to fulfill the disciplines of a group designed to transform believers into disciples. These high-expectation churches challenge nonbelievers, skeptics, pilgrims, and new believers to become what they knew was impossible for them. The high-expectation churches follow a different rule book from that used in low-expectation congregations.
- The visitor departs convinced, “I know what they believe and teach here.” Theological pluralism and large numbers of worshipers appear to be mutually exclusive goals.
- Excellence is the key.
- In these congregations, the usual price tag on “broad-based” and “attainable” is a watered-down compromise.
- Large churches fight against “path dependency.” Path dependency states that once people, or institutions, begin to travel down a certain path, it is very difficult for them to choose a new road.
- A goal is not the same as a dream.
- The vision-driven leader is comfortable and, hopefully, competent in challeging the people to do what they all know cannot be done.
- In an increasing proportion of the very large Protestant churches, however, the most valued qualities of potential future staff members are (1) good character; (2) a deep Christian commitment; (3) a sympathetic and supportive understanding of the culture, core values, and distinctive mission of this particular congregation; (4) an earned level of trust by the policy makers of both paid staff and volunteer leaders; (5) a high level of competence in one or more areas of ministry; (6) a clear sense of a call to ministry; (7) an openness to advanced in-service training to enhance that level of competence; (8) an above-average level of competence in interpersonal relationships; and (9) a record as an effective volunteer in ministry in that congregation.
- The work environment of the very large church should be one that is compatible with a premium on excellence.
- The road that brought that church to this point is not the road to take it into tomorrow.
- Three of the driving forces in the planning in the megachurch are evangelism, an openness to new expressions of ministry, and expanding the group life to be able to accomodate more people. Three driving forces in the decision-making processes in the very large congregation that is shrinking in size are taking better care of today’s members, perpetuating local traditions, and maintaining real estate.
- When people come to church, they come with 4 expectations: (1) yearnings to feel understood; (2) yearnings to understand; (3) yearnings to belong; and (4) yearnings to hope.
All in all, a great book. Highly recommend it.