by Kevin Brown of The Perfecting Church, Sewell NJ
Three things have been undeniably clear since our earliest days as a worshipping community just over three and a half years ago. This video captures how the community responds when the church becomes a verb and goes as disciples that serve their neighbors with their jobs and passions.
Church is not a noun. Church is a verb.
In far too many cases church is a noun to those who attend, those who once attended and those who have never attended. The building and the traditions that take place in the building are what define the church. We invite people to come and see, believing that the key to transformation in our community is getting people to come to our noun — to see our person, place or thing. But the truth of the matter is church is not a noun. It has to be a verb. We can’t be known solely for trying to get people to come. We have to be known primarily for going. We concluded if we were going to plant a church it had to be one filled with people known for going. Not simply going to a building but going to our neighbors, meeting needs and becoming part of the solution. We must be a verb, individually and collectively.
My parents migrated to the United States when I was just three years old. When they first arrived in Philadelphia, they were part of a church plant that was just a few years old and primarily focused on the immigrant Indian community. I grew up in that church and saw her grow from a handful of blue-collar immigrant workers to a fairly large congregation. I have been incredibly blessed by the passion of the Indian Christian community in which I was raised, and their faith and risk-taking challenged me as I grew up and began to pursue ministry. When I entered seminary, my dream was to go back to the Indian community and work with the second and third generation community – a community raised and educated in the United States. They spoke English fluently (often instead of our native language) and obtained degrees from the finest of universities as well as great jobs. They love baseball, basketball and football. Their kids are actively involved in sports leagues and school activities. One could argue they were more American than Indian. Read more
2. Learn from the GLOBAL CHURCH. We don’t have movements – they do. Our only hope is a global church planting movement – and if that happens, we have to join as pupils and students, not as leaders. It requires humility, the Holy Spirit, and love of the entire body of Christ. Read more
Many of the things we do at Northwood Church in training our planters involve working with others including coaching, assessing, funding, preparing a prospectus, working on a vision, missional development, value reviews, strategizing, and leadership development. But, there are some things that we do very uniquely in our training that sets us apart and enables us to work in many different contexts in training young pastors as they start churches . . . . . and beyond. Read more
by Nic Burleson of Timber Ridge Church in Stepehnville, TX
Back in the spring of 2011, my wife and I, along with our 2 year old son had just packed up our lives to move to the rural community of Stephenville, TX, outside of Fort Worth to plant a church. We had a full Uhaul and a calling from God…and that was about it. It was that Spring that I attended Northwood’s Cohort for Church Planters. And I can remember the first thing that Bob Roberts said to this room full of planters I was sitting in. He said, “If you want to change a city, if you want to impact the world, you’re going to have to get over your call to preach.” Over the next few days, my idea of what it looked like to plant a church would be forever changed.
Bob and his team at Northwood began to teach me that church planting is far more than hosting a weekly worship service and getting as many people as you can to attend. They taught me the principles of KDSC: Kingdom, Society, Disciple, and Church. And as I would learn, if a church wanted to make an impact, it started with the question of “How is my city?” rather than “How is my church?” It was a complete paradigm shift in thinking about church planting. And it’s this shift that has allowed our church to thrive and grow in the last three years. In fact, in three years, we’ve seen over 300 people make the decision to commit their lives to Jesus Christ and our church has grown from 3 people to between 600-700 in weekly attendance, in a community of just over 15,000 people. And it all began when we decided not to measure our church by it’s seating capacity, but rather by our sending capacity.
This past week I wanted so badly to go to the Kainos Conference in Memphis but simply was not able. Efrem Smith, Mark Deymaz, John Jenkins, Derwin Gray and Brian Loritts have helped me so much the past two years through their lectures, books, and conferences. It’s funny; I didn’t think it would be that hard given how our church reaches other religions and other nations. Man was I wrong. Our church has been in the midst of transition to diversity and it’s been both exciting and difficult. Diversity really is about simply loving people like Jesus does. Do you realize Jesus says we are to love God, love one another, love your neighbors, love your enemies – is there anyone outside of God’s love? I’m learning the more radical we are with the love of God the more people are receptive to the gospel. The biggest challenge is we don’t love like God. Loving gays, Muslims, and different races can get you in trouble with your own religious tribe, not loving them can get you in trouble with Jesus if you are really his! Can you be his and hate others? I don’t think so.
As we began to diversify I was hearing stuff behind the scenes at Northwood so I went out of my way to push things from the pulpit. People would say, “Racial issues are over, don’t say much about it.” Of course, they were all white. The African Americans and Latinos would come up and say, “We love it – keep pushing it – that’s why we’re here.” I assumed this would be a piece of cake for young people given they grew up in desegregated schools. Not so – just having one person around you who is a minority growing up doesn’t get you in their culture – it only lets them in yours! I’ve watched young people grapple with it.
Guest Post By: Dustin Jones Vantage Point Church in Haslet, TX
The saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child”, but the reality is that same principle holds true to raising up and sending out church planters. I was fortunate to come on staff with NorthWood and be on staff with them for 10 years as their Student Worship guy and then the Student Pastor. As I was being interviewed for the position, Bob didn’t even talk much about the position I was interested in, no, he was more interested in convincing me to be a church planter. He told me, if you ever want to be a church planter, you just let me know.
I was not interested, and I told him that day, “No, I think I will just be a Student Pastor for the rest of my life”.
It was during my time there at NorthWood that God began to teach me, mold me and instill value in me that would change how I thought about life, ministry, the world and church planting. Here are some of those values that were passed on to me:
by Scott Venable, Founder & Pastor of New City Church in Chicago, IL
When my wife and I first moved from Texas to Chicago with a vision and a calling to plant a church, we didn’t know where to start! We had no core team, knew no one else in the city, and we were going against every traditional church planting strategy and method. Why? Simple: the Holy Spirit told us to go. His calling trumps all of what makes sense. That’s what Scripture has taught me and my own experience has proved it true.
We were being trained and mentored by Bob Roberts, Jr. into Kingdom DNA and how that would lead to a church, which led us to do things quite differently. My wife and I had two choices set before us: 1) we could try and get a core team together, teach them the DNA and then go into our city, launch and start a church; 2) OR we could begin living out this DNA, engage our city NOW and let God build His church. Read more
In January 2010, I came on staff at Northwood Church with no clue as to what would be the future of my ministry and family life. I left Detroit where I had a 9 year career in technology and 22 years of history. I gave it all up and came to the strange land they call Texas. You see, I’m Hmong and grew up in the inner-city streets of Detroit. (See Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino.) Texas was a very scary place for me! That year I found myself way outside of my element with people that I would’ve never imagined doing life with. But it was during those years that God began opening my eyes to see that the story of my upbringing as a second generation immigrant whose family landed in the US as refugees was a strength in the Kingdom of God and not a weakness. I’ll never forget having lunch with Bob Roberts and hearing him say, “You were given an advantage to do global ministry because of who you are. But you have to stop thinking like a minority. God made you for the world.”
I don’t think either Bob or I knew how prophetic those words were at the time. Maybe Bob did, but I sure didn’t. Read more
By Kevin Cox, Pastor of Vista Church, Heartland, TX
I first met Bob Roberts at a day and a half Turbo event hosted by NorthWood. The program centered around four values: kingdom, disciple, society and church. The last three values would later shape our fledgling church plant (and continue to do so today), but it was Bob’s teaching on the Kingdom of God that captured my heart. Bob’s teaching answered the all-important “why?” question: Why should we plant churches? Because the Kingdom of God is not about addition but multiplication! Within the Kingdom of God, we have a new set of metrics. We still measure progress through baptisms, finances and, attendance, but now we also measure fruitfulness by church multiplication.
With such a paradigm shift, how does a church start multiplying? Here are some suggestions:
Instill the vision/DNA of multiplication.
With four kids in the house, life is never boring for my wife, Kathy, and I. At some point all four of our kids have exhibited behavior resembIing Kathy’s or mine. Without fail, Kathy and I will glance at each other and say, “I wonder where they got that from? I’ve never done that, so it must be from you!” The hard truth is that the Cox children have both of our DNA’s within them. Good, bad or ugly, they resemble both of us, act like both of us, imitate both of us, and think like us. As our kids have grown, we have attempted to parent and help shape them into the people they’re becoming, instilling our values and beliefs into their minds and hearts.
When we started Vista Church, from day one multiplication was the vision, value and DNA. We would multiply. We could not wait a month, a year, or for a 10-year anniversary to multiply. If it was indeed who we were, then we would vision-cast it on day one, begin financially preparing for it on day one and be prepared when the opportunity arose. Since then, we have instilled who we are into the people of Vista. Because people are inspired by a vision that is bigger than themselves, our church’s vision for multiplication has often been a drawing point for people to join our church. We’ve shared the multiplication DNA with church planters we have partnered with, and they in turn have instilled this same DNA into their church plants from day one, as well.
Teach the kingdom of God.
Admittedly, I’m a pragmatic person. Show me the blueprint and then let me run with it. My introduction to the teaching of the Kingdom of God was literally a fresh beat of the Holy Spirit in my heart. The Kingdom of God is His rule or reign in my life. The Kingdom of God demands surrender, reminding me that church multiplication is not my idea but flows from the heart of the Father.
Why do we sacrifice money that could easily be used for a “good” event or a staff position in Vista Church? The Kingdom of God. Why do we invest in church planters, their wives and their families? The Kingdom of God. Why do we give away sound equipment to church plants rather than selling it for our own use? The Kingdom of God. Why did a godly and generous family in our church build a training facility on their property so that we could increase the amount of church planters we equip? The Kingdom of God.
When we started teaching the Kingdom of God, multiplication took off.
Learn from others.
There’s something to be said for heeding the advice of those who have traveled the road before you. Church multiplication is indeed an exciting adventure, but it also comes with its own set of pitfalls and tensions. Vista Church was fortunate that God blessed us with many pioneering friends along the way who instilled in us a vision for multiplication, shared strategy and were always available for advice on next steps.
We inquired early and often from people like Bob and Omar Reyes at Northwood and Brian Hook at Hope Church in Las Vegas who had traveled the road of multiplication before us. We learned from some seasoned multipliers. Through their advice and guidance, we avoided many pitfalls along the way and have witnessed God’s favor.
Develop a system that fits your context.
My youngest son, Walker, utterly idolizes his older brother, Jackson. Walker is 9 years old while Jackson is 16. In Walker’s mind, he, too, is 16. Jackson plays high school basketball and baseball, and Walker believes he can do anything Jackson can do. Sadly for Walker, this lack of self-awareness usually ends up with him getting frustrated or worse, hurt.
Unlike Walker, our church has a better grasp on who we are. We are not a megachurch. We are not even a midsize church at the moment. For us to multiply, we need to know who we are and what we’re capable of doing. We don’t pretend to be something we’re not, and we only offer what we can do. Furthermore, we have grown into the system that we’re currently using for church multiplication.
Our initial system of church multiplication was simply committing monthly financial assistance to a church plant in Seattle. From that simple step of obedience, God opened the door for informal training of a church planting couple that joined Vista Church. For a year, he and his wife learned different aspects of church planting while starting a small group in our community. After he graduated from seminary, we had the honor of sending them off to plant in upstate New York. We committed to monthly support, as well as ongoing communication and coaching. Simultaneously, we committed to partner with church plants in Chicago and Ft. Worth. This last year, we added the last piece of our church multiplication system: formalized training. We trained five church planting teams that are planting or will be planting in Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Dallas and Seattle. With each new church planting partnership, another piece of our church multiplication system emerged.
Seven years later, our system is comprised of four components: assessment, training, funding and coaching. We have a training facility built on their own property by a generous and Kingdom-minded couple in Vista Church, Gary and Joyce Moore. We affectionately call it, “The Barn.” Our church planters can use it anytime for retreats or trainings. Joyce and my mother, Paula Cox, did something as simple as hold babies at our Release church planter training so that the wives could participate with their husbands. We have developed a system that fits us. As our church has grown and matured, we have quite literally grown into our church multiplication system.
We have a saying in our church that undergirds our church multiplication: Size does not determine impact. Numerically, Vista Church is not big, but Vista’s impact on lives and families extends far beyond our own community because of the churches we have helped start. Big in the kingdom is the ability to multiply. Any size church can multiply multiple churches. Will your church answer the call?