Archive for the 'Church Planting' Category

Church Planting, Community, Missional

Church Worship Canceled to Watch Football

What do you think about a new church canceling it’s second worship service ever in order to watch an NFL game? Would you cheer if your church did this? Or, would you wonder about the spirituality of the pastor and leadership to make such a decision?

I’m not making this up, but a new church plant in Seattle is going to watch a Seahawks game on TV instead of holding their worship service.

Would you like to learn why? Check-out their reasons at:

In case you’re very curious, here’s one of the reasons they are doing this: “We’re not salesmen, we’re gardeners. Our job is to cultivate the field God has set us in. Something’s already growing. We see it. Our job is to encourage and develop that growth in people who are seeking a heartfelt relationship with Jesus and each other.”

The leader of this church plant, Jim Henderson, has done more than one evangelism training event with Church of the Brethren. Does he have an idea worth considering?


Church Planting, Community, Ministry Formation

Guest Blog Post

The other week I was asked to be a guest blogger for my friend Lisa Colon Delay, who I went to Kutztown University with. I thought I would repost what I wrote for her blog on my blog. Would love to hear your thoughts on it.


For the last two and half years I’ve been planting Veritas, a missional community in Lancaster, PA. There are various challenges in this.

There’s the challenge of developing a Core Group for Veritas. There’s the struggle of seeking to do church in a whole new way in an area that has a fairly traditional view of what church is. There’s the challenge of balancing 4 part time jobs between my wife and me, a free lance job, two kids and keeping up with everything that comes with running a household. But the biggest challenge that I have been faced with revolves around the issue of identity.

All too often, whether in planting a new faith community, or just in life, we define ourselves by what we do. And we define our self worth from what we do, and whether we are “successful” or not. Maybe men do this more.

If I’m honest with myself, my self worth all too often is tied into how I perceive things are going. If we have a good Sunday, as far as numbers (even though we seek to define success by other metrics) I feel good about myself. If we have a bad Sunday, as far as numbers go, I feel horrible about myself and want to throw in the towel and give up. The biggest challenge I believe, at least for me, in this planting journey has been to remember this phrase, “It’s not what I do, it is about whose I am.”

Scripture says this about me, “he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will” (Ephesians 1:5), and “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”(Romans 8:15). Too often I say to myself (or Satan says) the very opposite of these words. I forget that I am a child of the King and that I am loved, not for anything that I can do, have done, or will do. I am loved period.

One thing that stuck from my years at seminary that has helped me confront this problem of identity is this simple statement, “There is nothing you can do to make God love you any less. There is nothing you can do to make God love you any more.” My identity is not in being a church planter, a father, a husband, or anything else that I try to define my worth in. My struggle is to remember that, and place my identity in the fact that I am a child of the Heavenly Father.

Books / Readings, Church Planting, Community, Ministry Formation, Missional, Spiritual Formation, Third Places, Young Adults

When Sacrilege is a good thing

A few weeks ago I got an e-mail from Mike Morrell, who runs the Speak Easy blog program that I am a part of. This e-mail was letting me know that Speak Easy had a book that I could review. The book? Sacrilege: Finding Life in the Unorthodox Ways of Jesus by Hugh Halter. As soon as I read the e-mail I went right to the form and filled it out hoping that I wasn’t too late. I hit submit, held my breath, and waited for the confirmation that I indeed got a copy to review for Speak Easy. Seconds later I received that confirmation that i was hoping for, a chance to read the newest book by Hugh.

You see Hugh and his normal writing and ministry partner Matt Smay have influenced me in profound ways in their books The Tangible Kingdom and AND:The Gathered and Scattered Church. And Veritas has used their Tangible Kingdom Primer in developing missional communities (and plan to do so again in the coming year). So I was excited to see what Hugh had to say about following Jesus. And of course the title Sacrilege, which normally is seen as a bad thing in Christian circles, grabbed my attention right away.

The first thing that Halter does in the book’s first chapter is to define what he means by the word sacrilege. He says, “To commit sacrilege is to de-sacredize what is deemed to be sacred….In the Christian sense, to commit sacrilege means to disregard, disrespect, or be irreverent toward those things that have traditionally been considered holy, venerated, or dedicated as sacred. It’s tipping holy cows” At first reading how can sacrilege be a good thing, according to Halter. Just about the time when you are wondering if Halter is trying to just be controversial or provocative, we says this, which sums up what the book is all about, “In actuality, as I’ll show, de-sacredizing what should be de-sacredized is not only good, it begins to move us toward the undercurrent of the real person and Good News of Jesus. Sacrilege is about removing religion from our faith. It’s about securing the integrity of what is most important. It’s about chipping away at people’s false assumptions about who Jesus is and what following him is all about.”

As an Anabaptist I was totally on board where Halter went to show his readers the sacrilegious nature of Jesus, right to the Sermon on the Mount, and more specifically the beatitudes. Halter takes the remainder of the book unpacking the beatitudes and how they flip everything upside down and how following Jesus and living out the beatitudes will fulfill what Jesus wants of his disciples (or apprentices as Halter wants to call those who live for Jesus). Halter says that Jesus, “wanted people to become like him; sacrilegious, incarnational people who lived a contagiously countercultural, kingdom-centered life. (I believe Jesus wanted that when he walked the face of this earth and he also wants that now as well.)

I appreciated the book and what Halter was seeking to do, unpacking Jesus from the religious confines that He has been wrapped up in for 2,000 years and to truly see Jesus as “the ultimate sacrilegious leader.” I resonated with his use of the beatitudes to show the sacrilegious nature of Jesus and how if we follow Jesus, by living out the beatitudes, we’ll be committing sacrilege as well and becoming sacrilegious apprentices.

Here are some quotes from the book that I found helpful or that resonated with me:

“Jesus and the early faith communities lived an intentionally countercultural life without any sense of consumer-oriented fluff- and people still chose to take the leap!” (This is my desire for not only Veritas but for my life as well)

“Biblical apprenticeship is about three things: 1. Becoming just like Jesus. 2. Doing what Jesus did, and 3. doing the above with the types of people Jesus liked spending time with.”

“Jesus messed with people’s paradigms.”

“Jesus utterly jacked up everything people thought about religion and God. And he’s still at it.”

“Jesus loved the Scriptures as they witnessed to him, but his biggest fights were with those who knew the most Scripture.”

“Jesus really doesn’t care how much we know if our knowledge amounts to no change in our lifestyle.”

“Jesus, however, is trying to take people from a small box of religion to the place where they can open up their lives to a huge new world called the kingdom.”

“Although Westernized Christianity pulls us away from risk, confrontation, and getting gritty with real issues, Christ is going to lead us into places that will capture our emotions and reorient our entire perspective about life and why we live it.”

“Being a Christian is about being like Jesus, and sometimes that means taking risks to reach out.”

“Jesus came to expand your life, not keep it the same. His life is fuller than the American Dream, but it’s not as safe.”

“The wall of assumptions will only come down as entire communities band together in unity to live like Christ before the world. This may mean turning from idols of materialism, individualism, consumerism, and religion.”

I’m sure I could go on with various thoughts and quotes that stuck out to me and resonated with me and our journey in planting Veritas as a missional community. But I thought I’d end this blog with a final thought from Hugh that is a deep hope and longing of mine for our community. Hugh says, “Jesus never called people to follow him by themselves. He knew that life in the Kingdom was and still is only available for those committed to community with other apprentices.”

I’m thankful for Mike Morrell and Speak Easy for the opportunity to read and review Sacrilege. Hopefully reading this book can help and remind me to flip some tables and follow the subversive, countercultural, and sacrilegious leader Jesus of Nazareth.

Church Planting, Community, Leadership, Ministry Formation, Missional

Veritas Leadership Structure

So the last time that I wrote anything for Emergent Brethren I mentioned our Monthly Rhythm for our gatherings. I shared about our desire to live out (as individuals and as a community) the OUT, UP, IN 3 Dimensional life of a disciple of Jesus. As I began to do some more thinking about this triangle, our monthly rhythm and our core values, I also became aware that this triangle could guide how we structured the leadership of Veritas as we move forward. Below you’ll find a document that I have written to lay out what the Veritas Leadership Structure will look like taking into consideration our Core Values and our Monthly Rhythm. I would love to hear your thoughts, comments, ideas, etc……

Leadership Structure of Veritas

“Role Descriptions” of Elder Team (including the Church Planter/Pastor)

Commission Elder:
Vision: To see that we at Veritas serve and bless people in real and practical ways.
1. Partner with Pastor Ryan on planning OUT events, activities, and gatherings. (Getting Artists for 1st Friday, Musicians for 3rd Friday, connecting with Non-Profits to serve with, etc…)
2. Plan (with Pastor Ryan) the monthly OUT Sunday (currently 1x a month)
3. Train, meet, resource, and network with the Missional Communities OUT Leaders.
4. Develop ways, ideas, and dreams of getting OUT into the world and blessing it and means of getting the word out about Veritas.
5. Meet monthly with Pastor/Church Planter and Elder team.

Communion Elder:
Vision: To create regular opportunities of relevant worship experiences, not as consumers but participating in and creating the worship that is taking place, with people connecting worship on Sunday with their worship on Monday through Saturday.
1. Partner with Pastor Ryan on planning the Corporate UP Gatherings (2x a month), the sermon series planning, and what each Missional Community is “studying” during their UP Gatherings.
2. Train, meet, resource, and network with the Missional Communities UP leaders.
3. Develop in Partnership with Pastor Ryan a discipleship process for Veritas.
4. Creating, Overseeing, and working on teams that help the Corporate UP Gatherings come together. (Musical team, Children’s Ministry Team, Multimedia Team)
5. Meet monthly with Pastor/Church Planter and Elder team.

Community Elder:
Vision: To help Veritas become a community full of love, grace, compassion, and mercy, following in Jesus’ footsteps.
1. Partner with Pastor Ryan on planning IN events, activities and gatherings that strength the relational community.
2. Train, meet, resource and network with the Missional Communities IN Leaders.
3. Create, Oversee and work on a Hospitality Team for our Corporate UP Gatherings.
4. Plan (with Pastor Ryan) the monthly IN Sunday (currently 1x a Month)
5. Meet monthly with the Pastor/Church Planter and Elder team.

Collaboration Elder:
Vision: To see that Veritas honors and glories God in the areas of stewardship and strategic development.
1. Partner with Pastor Ryan on funding initiatives.
2. Develop Community Room as a consistent revenue stream
3. Serve as Treasurer to collect and deposit offering (work with supportive church book keeper). Eventually the Collaboration Elder will oversee an “in-house” financial team responsible for keeping the books, and all financial matters. Helps develop the budget in partnership and in conversation with the elder team (including the Pastor/Church Planter.
5. Meet monthly with the Pastor/Church Planter and Elder team.

Church Planter/Pastor of Veritas:
Vision: To live out, embody and help the Veritas community to live out and embody the mission and vision of being a “Missional Community of Authentic Worshippers.”
Role Description for Church Planter/Pastor

•Spends time in Theological reflection (UP)
•Spends time in Spiritual disciplines and prayer (UP)
•Spends time in reflection, and discernment regarding the church and the culture (OUT)
•Encapsulate the community with the biblical narrative (UP)
•Teaches and guides the community through encounters with Scripture, rather than information alone (UP)
•Develops opportunities to engage the context of the neighborhood, and to personally be a neighbor (OUT)
•Develops and unleashes the core leadership to the fullness of their potential (IN)
•Facilitates learning/discerning environments (IN and UP)
•Develops the ability to prioritize missional essentials for the team and able to let other things go (IN, UP, and OUT)
•Models interdependent style of leadership (IN)

•Spends time becoming a Student of scripture (UP)
•Spends time becoming a Student of culture (OUT)
•Is Relationship oriented – ability to engage in genuine and authentic conversation (OUT and IN)
•Is a Risk taker for the Kingdom, where mistakes are allowed (OUT)
•Develops a Strategic discipleship plan that calls the congregation to be ministers to others (UP)
•Engages with a Spiritual director, ministry mentor, and support team for growth and accountability (UP)
•Has Healthy self-awareness; self-learning (IN, UP)
•Develops Courage (OUT)

Elders meet at least monthly. The monthly meeting will include prayer, sharing from each Elder about what is going on in their area of responsibility (UP efforts, IN efforts, OUT efforts, and Administrative details- financial report, etc…), vision plans, dreaming together, and strategic planning for the future. Elders are responsible for the day to day, month to month work of the church. The Church Planter/Pastor is part of the Elder Team, has a vote within the Elder Team and is ultimately accountable to the Elder Team. The Elder Team is also responsible for the yearly church budget.

Community Gathering- The Elders convene a Community Gathering twice a year with the entire community to share vision for the future, reports from each Elder about progress in their areas of responsibilities, and the Collaboration Elder presents the Budget for the Community to vote on. These twice a year Community Gatherings happen in April and October (right now during the IN Sunday Gathering.)

Church Planting, Community, Leadership, Spiritual Formation

Veritas Monthly Rhythm


Over the last few months at Veritas we have been sharing the diagram that is above during our worship gathering time. We had started just with sharing stories of how we had been a blessing in the world, how we had lived out the kingdom in word and deed in the past week, and where God was leading us to live missionary lives. Then I realized we needed more than just the stories of being missional, and then I added how we were growing in our Christian journey. We shared stories of what God was teaching us through our times of individual and corporate prayer, worship, bible study, life in the world, and experiencing God in places where we didn’t expect him to be.

Not too long after starting these discussions during our worship gathering I saw this triangle in material put out by 3DM called Lifeshapes. The idea is that “we are created to be three-dimensional beings; when one dimension is missing or suppressed, the other two do not work as they should. If we do not have all three elements of the Triangle- the Up, the In, and the Out- we are out of balance and we will wobble through life.” (Taken from “Building a Discipling Culture” by Mike Breen and Steve Cockram) I realized that we were sharing stories and instances of living OUT, and UP lives, but were neglecting the IN part. So we began taking 10-15 minutes each worship gathering to hear and tell stories of our UP, IN, and OUT lives.

As I have been looking at the triangle, I have also realized that it fits our 3 Core Values very well..Safe, Spiritual Search (IN), Missional Kingdom Life (OUT), and Authentic Worship Expression (UP). I also began to wonder what it would look like if not only individuals lived out the OUT, UP, IN in their lives, but what it would look like for a community to live this out together in a corporate fashion. So for the past month to a month and a half we have been living out as a community this rhythm taken from the triangle.

So our monthly rhythm looks like this (most of the time)

1st Sunday of the month is our OUT Sunday. We take our time that Sunday to serve the community of Lancaster in some way as well as missionally engage with people. Last week we were asked by Occupy Lancaster to lead a Bible Study.

2nd and 4th Sunday of the month is our UP Sunday. We take time those two Sundays to engage in musical worship, prayer, discussion, Scriptural reflection, and dialogue. (not that we don’t “worship” during the other two Sundays of the month…since everything is worship.)

3rd Sunday of the month is our IN Sunday. We take this Sunday to focus on our community and developing the relationships within the Community. This might take the form of a Brunch, a discussion related to what is happening within the life of our community, a time to talk about the direction/future of Veritas, or some other community gathering. (Not that we don’t build community when we serve together and worship together)

Since this is really new to us, I am waiting to see how we grow, develop, and live out the mission God has called us to by using this missional rhythm of OUT, UP, and IN. I would love to hear your thoughts, comments, ideas, suggestions, and questions about our Monthly Rhythm.

Next »