Everyone has junk. There are no perfect people. Everybody has inabilities and weaknesses. No one has the whole package. It’s a lot more fun to look at someone else’s imperfection than to look at our own. As a matter of fact, I’m convinced the reason we love judging others is because it makes us feel better about ourselves – “we aren’t ‘that’ bad!”
I recently read somewhere that in America 1300+ pastors per month leave the ministry. There’s no doubt about it, leading a church can be hell. Read more
If you’ve read my blog you know that around November to December every year I write about journaling. I’m serious about it. There is no greater or formative discipline that intersects all the disciplines and all of life like journaling. It’s not a diary – it’s reflections. I define a journal as “a catalogue of reflections of what God is doing and saying in your life”.
To journal you don’t need to be a good writer. You just need to be still and quiet and write. You aren’t writing for publication or for your English teacher. I would not write a journal for anyone but myself. It’s not history it’s how you see life, what you are learning, questions you have, and anything you want to write about. Mother Teresa, Henri Nouwen, and others – have used this and it was key to their spiritual development. Some of the things they wrote about included personal struggles, frustrations, and even deep questions about God. Some people freaked out over that – I didn’t. We all have those questions and I believe it’s in the slow wrestling of those questions that we find truth, meaning, life and, yes, God. There is NOTHING that has grown me spiritually, emotionally, and relationally – even globally, like journaling. Yet, it’s not journaling – it’s reflecting, remembering, discovering patterns, recording events that were good and bad, and writing down the things God spoke to you about in the middle of the night.
I believe the book of Acts is how God intends for us to walk with him, learn, grow, and experience life. Having read Acts many times, studying it, preaching it – I’m convinced the biggest message of Acts is the unexpected. The Holy Spirit orchestrates everything from relationships, timing, schedule – and none of it comes through orchestrated action plans, goals, systems, and processes. That doesn’t mean those things don’t matter – just that they aren’t primary. I know this, the greatest things in my life that God has done, has had little to do with how I organize but rather how I hear God’s voice or recognize him moving in unexpected circumstances or people. At the moment at which things are taking place I don’t always recognize their significance – but as I journal and see things develop there really is a pattern.
Each year I start a new journal. It has what I learned from the previous year, it has words people give me, verses burned in my heart, goals, people I work with, people I’m praying for, models, tons of stuff – about 30 pages worth, then daily and early in the morning I write.
THUS, this is why I’m promoting the book “Journaling: Catalyzing Spiritual Growth through Reflection” by Adam Feldman. It is simply the best book I’ve ever read on how to journal. I would encourage you to buy it, read it, and use it to begin. Your own style and preferences will takeover, but it will be a fantastic guide to start with. You can read more about his view of journaling at AdamLFeldman.com – I loved the book and was excited when it came out.
SO YOU’RE GOING TO START A CHURCH!!! HALLELUJAH!! CONGRATULATIONS!!! No doubt, you’re reading books, heading to some great conferences, in a cohort, talking to former church planters and pastors, gathering all the information you can to plant a church that glorifies God, extends the kingdom, and reaches your city and the world. There are some things that are very important to understand, to the degree that if you don’t – you could “lose” you’re soul in all the stress, challenges, and learning you’re about to do.
6. An exceptional church planter knows their context. Len Sweet says, it’s “knowing your zip code”. Who lives there, education, background, history, culture, values, traditions, nuances . . . all of these things are critical. There is always a growing church somewhere because someone doesn’t just love Jesus, they understand the people and have the ability to think deeply and design communication in light of who is present. It isn’t enough to know what is, but what’s coming. What’s coming, in terms of demographic shifts, psychographic shifts, economic shifts, racial shifts, etc? Another key issue is, what are the questions that the broader culture is asking? Thirty or twenty years ago, those questions were easy to ignore if you wanted to. Read more
When I started Northwood in 1985 no one was really talking church planting that much. Pastors coming out of seminary definitely were not doing it – Rick Warren & Bill Hybels were anomalies. Today, it’s just the opposite, no one wants to pastor an established church and everyone wants to start a church. Sad to say, in my day many started churches because they couldn’t get an established church – but some were called and gifted and went out because of that call. Today, some, but not all, start churches because they see it as the quickest way to grow a church real big real fast.
1. An exceptional church planter has dealt with their brokenness. A church planter with a checkered past or a checkered present, that is being kept hidden from everyone else, sooner or later comes to the surface. Read more
There are some things that simply will not develop in our lives until we are faced with crisis, danger, or hardships. Most people live lives trying to avoid pain and hardships- it’s normal, who wants to suffer? When a situation comes uninvited, we see what we are made of. In our heart we desire to answer the challenge with faith and courage – sometimes we do and sometimes we don’t. No one gets off free, but this is where character and integrity are developed. In the past few weeks I have watched people get bad doctors diagnosis, lose their jobs, struggle through a divorce they did not want, get a bad report on a child they love with all their heart. Generally, everyone has tried to “do the right thing” even though that can be confusing at times. Read more
It doesn’t matter what you do or how good you are at it, success and meaning are not the same thing. There are many successful people who are miserable, frustrated, exhausted, keep adding the adjectives. Success doesn’t make us happy it just shows a level of effectiveness. If a young pastor, church planter, businessman, doctor, plumber, clerk, IT person . . . . think growing a ministry or making a lot of money makes you fulfilled – think again. Why is it you see pastors crash like everybody else? It is just a little more spectacular when they do! Read more
The global church really doesn’t argue over forms of church. You will find them all. I believe there are three expressions of church from Ephesians and we need all three to be healthy. First, there is the cell, organic, or house church from where the gifts and ministry takes place. Second, there is the congregation from where equipping, celebration and strategic engagement take place. Third, there is the global church from which we connect to learn from each other, see what God is doing on the fringes so we can prepare for the future and engage the world together. I believe everyone should and will be connected to those forms in some way. But how they look and what they are like are incredibly diverse. Read more
In light of my past few blogs and questions I frequently get, let me share with you how a church can begin to engage globally. You don’t have to do it all at once, as a matter of fact, you simply can’t.
Develop an apostolic view of the church. This means the church living beyond herself. It’s the idea of viewing the church as a sent community. In other words, realize that the church isn’t just about the Sunday worship – God has called her to engage the world and extend his kingdom beyond your city borders. The church gathers to scatter and extend. If the church merely gathers without intentional extension into the world to share and serve the good news of Jesus it is not in line with the mandate of Jesus. I love what Ed Stetzer says, “The church doesn’t have a mission – the mission has a church.” Another way of saying that is the church exists not for herself. Bonhoeffer, Bosch, and so many others have written about the concept of the church is greatest when she is living outside herself and not serving herself – but others. Read more
I was in a meeting with people of different faiths from another country, meeting in a third world country discussing how people of faith can be agents of peace. Those of us who follow Jesus looked to the Scriptures where we are called to be pacemakers and saw how Jesus was the Prince of Peace and how we are to be ministers of peace. We are exploring how we can relate and serve together on the broader grid of cities and nations to bring down tensions. At the conclusion several asked if they could go to church with me in the country we were in – so I rented a bus and took many of them with me. It was an incredible experience. Most of them had never been in a church. This was a nation with an emerging first generation church and the church was incredible. It was already acting in a global way. I then took them to meet the pastor and he was so excited they were there. He even thanked them for trying to watch out for the Christians in their country and volunteered to help in any way. This is a Spirit-filled, evangelical, church planting, growing church. Read more