Archive for the 'Church Planting' Category

Church Planting, Spiritual Formation

At home… Replanting

Church planting isn’t for the fainthearted. I’ve been through quite a bit since September seeing New Antioch through its unexpected commencement last year in late September and through the challenges endured; and unexpectedly once again, immediately after Christmas.

Ups and downs, moments of excitement and periods of unwanted long-suffering have made this time quite abundant in lessons about the Kingdom and vibrant in how to “do” Church – as God wills it to be. Maiby and I have seen His faithfulness and provision beyond measure, to say the very least.

Now I confess the following:

At several junctures, I felt as if I had failed God, my wife and the congregation.

At various points along the way, I felt as exhausted as a pilgrim walking a medieval road and quite exhausted of “having it so hard”.

Through the days leading to the final decision to “replant” New Antioch, I felt it was best if I went shopping around for a church in need of a pastor and see if I could get hired and that would be enough to grant me financial security and “enjoyment” in ministry. I developed a “reasonable” rationale for why church planting wasn’t for me – at least in the way that it had “fallen” into my lap through the Church of the Brethren.

Through it all, though, God continued to open significant doors for me. PhD programmes, academic fellowships, journal articles to write and preaching engagements, too. So many opportunities and “big breaks”, and here I was feeling “left aside”, “marginalized” and perhaps… “overlooked”.

This is where my “experience as a church planter” ran diametrically opposite my life as a seminary professor. I have had the “dicha” – Spanish for “the blessing”, if you will, to encounter – on a first hand basis, the challenge of living out “theory” in the “real world”. I have grown more accustomed to the dissonance of living out the ministry licking my wounds and feeling “out of season” quite often. Perhaps I felt I deserved a better break than the one given… then one days I saw into the eyes of my wife and heard the words, “No matter what, you have everything… You have God, me and our kids”…

Then I saw into the eyes of my disciple-making students and heard my own words preach and teach everything contrary to what I was feeling…

God is amazing… although I felt tired, marginalized and ineffective, God took my brokenness and utilized it as a source of reflection, thought provocation and prayer. His redemption and restoration has humbled me and caused me to feel shame. How dare I consider myself ill used when my Lord and my God has purposed me to teach, guide and cause others to grow, mature and be nourished at a seminary, a bible study and an unorthodox Brethren “experiment”?

I am blessed and truly highly favored. Sadly, I only now get it. The blessing is what is yet to come…

Grace and Peace

Church Planting

Free Resources from Exponential Church Planting Conference

I love hearing about church planters and what they’re accomplishing! This, is in part, why I love to see what Ryan Braught writes (see previous post). Through the years, I’ve followed difference conferences to see what they offer for church planters. One of the best conferences is Exponential, which was recently held.

I got an email from Exponential, offering free resources. In case you’re interested in church planting, I want to pass this offer on to you!

Exponential 2010 – Podcast and Blog Posts
We had an amazing experience with over 3,400 church planting leaders gathered together for Exponential 2010 in Orlando! Over 90% of this year’s attendees said they’d attend again and were pleased with the overall conference experience, speakers, and main sessions. Whether you attended or not, we’ve made over 50 hours of teaching / training from the conference available via the Exponential Podcast. Click here to subscribe via iTunes. Click here for a comprehensive compilation (over 90 pages) of blog posts highlighting various speakers at Exponential 2010.

Whether or not you’re interested in church planting, I hope these resources are an inspiration to you!

Blessings to you!

Church Planting, Special Announcements

Happy Birthday to Veritas!

Some of you know Ryan Braught personally, and others know him through this writing here on Emergent Brethren. About once a week, he sends out a prayer request list to several people. In his latest, he names that his church plant is just about to celebrate its first birthday. I think this is a significant event! Please join me and others in praying for Ryan and the new church that Christ has called him to plant.

This is his latest prayer request list:

Hey all,

It’s really hard to believe that Summer is right around the corner and that we are fast approaching our year anniversary as a Church Plant. We have come far but we also have a ways to go. But God has been good and faithful to us and a lot of it can be attributed to each of you and your faithful prayers on behalf of the Veritas community. Thanks so much for your prayers and your support for us. They are very much appreciated. Here are some prayer requests and praises regarding Veritas and our future.

1. Newspaper Article: The other week while at a Church Planting conference I was interviewed for an article in the Lancaster Newspaper. In the article it was mentioned that there was going to be a follow up piece on Veritas and other innovative communities (like my friend Erik and his Definition Collective). Well the article was in the paper on Saturday. Here is the link for you to read (if you haven’t already read it)….

2. Church of the Brethren Church Planting Conference: This past week I was in Richmond, IN at our COB Church Planting conference at Bethany Seminary. It was a good week. The leadership of Rose Madrid-Swetman and Jim Henderson was amazing. Rose was amazing and shared about her missional community in Seattle and reminded me why Veritas exists. Praise God for the voice of “outsiders” who can speak into my life and remind me why we planted Veritas in the first place. My workshop went well and was given good feedback and it was good to share the vision of Veritas with many people. Pray that those in attendance at the conference may seek to plant a church, support church planting, or be involved in church planting in the future. It was a great group of people to spend time with in prayer, worship, fellowship, and study.

3. Missional Opportunities: Pray for us as we enter the summer that we could use this summer as an opportunity to step up our missional presence in the community. Pray that we could reach out to neighbors, and the community as individuals and as a community. Pray for us as we seek to discern ways of serving and blessing the community. (Servolution week, etc…) Pray that God would allow us to see growth in Veritas (not the primary reason for seeking to bless people but as a by-product).

4. Space: Pray for continued discernment with this issue. We have 4 options at this point. 1. Stay at English Presbyterian Church for a while. 2. Lease a space in the city of Lancaster on Liberty Street. 3. Purchase a Church Building that has come up for sale in our area at a very reasonable and affordable price. 4. Lease or Buy another property that we don’t know about yet. So pray for us as we seek to discern our next steps as a community.

5. Finances: Pray for us as we will be sending out Fundraising Letters in the very near future. Pray for those who receive the letters. Pray for openness to supporting the mission of Veritas. Also pray for congregations that I will be seeking to talk with about financial support. Pray for open doors and a willingness to partner with us.

6. Growth: Pray for growth to take place in various areas (spiritual, numerical, missional, relational). Pray that we would realize that we are called to plant and water but God gives the growth. Pray that we would be faithful to the call God has on us and that we wouldn’t worry about the end result, other than just being faithful.

These next 2 things are necessarily prayer requests…

1. If you know of someone who might connect with what we are about at Veritas, please let them know about us. If you have people who have no faith community to be a part of, share with them about Veritas. If you know people in your faith community who might have a calling on their lives to be a part of a church plant, and you would be willing to release them for a time, let us know.
2. If you know of someone or a church who might be interested in learning more about the vision of Veritas and possibly supporting us financially, please let us know. I would be more than willing to meet with them and share with them the vision of Veritas and how they might be able to support us.

Thanks again for your prayers and support for Veritas.

God bless,


You can learn more about Veritas at their website.


Books / Readings, Church Planting, Decline/Growth

Evaluating your Faith Community

I have been wading through the dense work that is “Thy Kingdom Connected”. I am struggling to figure out how the thoughts, words, and philosophy works itself out in my context. I am still working on that and will be for a while if not for as long as I’m alive. But as I sit here in Starbucks reading I came upon a great quote regarding how you evaluate the effectiveness of your faith community. And this has helped me, because last week I was struggling alot with trying to evaluate the community and was always coming back to the same old metric of numbers. Here is what I just read that is so helpful. Read this, ponder it, and wrestle with it.

“To determine how your church is doing, don’t gauge it by the individuals in your church, or even in comparison to what other churches are doing; go to God’s bigger narrative. How is your local faith community participating with God in God’s dream for the re-creation of heaven and earth? How is your church participating in the flourishing of God’s dream of abundant life for all?”

And so I need to ask myself, “How is Veritas currently participating with God in God’s dream? And how can Veritas begin to participate with God in God’s dream?” Those are two great questions that I will be wrestling with and also asking others within Veritas what they think.

I’ll be blogging later this week with more reflections from “Thy Kingdom Connected.”

Church Planting, Missional, Third Places

I Was Wrong about Church Buildings

Found this interesting article in Leadership online from Dan Kimball about using buildings missionally.

They can be outposts of mission, not just a drain on resources.
Dan Kimball

Sunday, November 29, 2009

If you had asked me eight years ago what I thought about church buildings, I would have said, “Who needs a building? The early church didn’t have buildings, and we don’t need them either!” But I was wrong.

My anti-building phase was a reaction to having seen so much money spent on church facilities, often for non-essential, luxury items. I was also reacting to a philosophy of ministry that treated church buildings like Disneyland; a place consumers gather for entertainment. But these abuses had caused me to unfairly dismiss the potential blessing of buildings as well.

Consider the building occupied by Compassion International in Colorado Springs. It has a well-groomed lawn with sprinkler system, an attractive sign, and an expansive parking lot. It’s a nice facility. But it’s more than just a building—it is the headquarters and training center for a ministry that brings physical and spiritual nourishment to more than one million children in 25 countries. The Compassion building is used for a missional purpose, not simply as a place for Christians to gather and consume religious services.

When we planted our church in 2004, we needed a place to meet. We found a very traditional church building that had a sizable “fellowship hall” originally used only for donuts and coffee on Sundays. Wanting to use the building differently, we converted the fellowship hall into a public coffee lounge featuring music and art from the outside community. The Abbey, as it’s now called, is open seven days a week and offers free internet access.

Just yesterday I was in The Abbey and saw about 20 people, not part of our congregation, studying and hanging out. (During finals week I counted 90 students packed into the place.) While there I talked to a brand new Christian who has been coming to our gatherings. He found out about our church from a Buddhist friend. His friend loves coming to The Abbey and recommended our church because he trusted us.

We’ve also used our building to serve our community in times of crisis. When wildfires forced nearby residents to flee their homes, our building became an overnight refuge for those without a place to stay.

These missional opportunities would not be possible without a building.

What about the sanctuary? When we first got the building, one person said the sanctuary “looked like a funeral parlor.” We sought to remake the worship space to express our congregation’s values of community, worship, and service.

First, we removed the pews. Looking at the back of peoples’ heads simply didn’t communicate our values of community and participation.

We also invited local artists to create images during our worship gatherings. These were then displayed in the space.

The only cross in the building was very small, so we brought in a huge iron cross as the visual focus of our worship space. This clearly communicated that Christ was at the center of our mission.

We lowered the large wooden pulpit in order to facilitate more relational teaching, and we added a prayer shawl over the podium to reinforce our frequent talks about the importance of prayer in changing lives.

Little by little the space that had been powerfully missional in the 1930s and ’40s was transformed to reflect missional values of the 21st century. In 20 years I’m sure the way these values are expressed will have changed again, and I hope the design of the sanctuary and fellowship hall will change accordingly.

What’s important is that our mission drives our aesthetics and our use of space.

Today I am incredibly thankful we have a building. It allows us meet in larger groups for worship, and it allows for training classes that equip people for mission. We also use our space all week and welcome the public into it.

So, I have recanted from my earlier belief that buildings drain resources and create consumer Christians. I was wrong. Now I see them as missionary centers to impact lives for the gospel.

So here is my question and assignment for you. If you had the opportunity to have a building or you already own a building, what types of things could you or do you do to use the building missionally and to not be a drain on resources? If you could design a building anyway you want to be a missional center, what would you do? What creative ways could you fund the designing of the space? Let me know your thoughts about the article and the questions.

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