The Titus Blog

The Book You Must Read this Summer

Every summer as part of my vacation planning, I pick out two or three books that I want to read on vacation.

This summer I am looking forward to reading a novel by Walker Percy and a collection of short stories by Flannery O’Connor. Sometimes I choose fun novels without any real depth. Other times I choose tomes like War and Peace or Moby Dick. But I have never gone on vacation without a book or two in hand. You may do the same. Many of us read books as a way to relax, step away from ordinary life, and see things from a fresh perspective.

This past week I took up a practice with a friend that I have never done before. We read one book every day. Don’t worry, it was a very short book! Each day, we read 1 John from the Bible, straight through every morning. Each time I read it through I would discover a new theme, a new detail, a new connection with other Bible passages.

More importantly, I had a much deeper understanding of the book after each reading. With that deeper understanding, I have already started to notice new thought patterns. The way I see people around me is being transformed. The way I behave towards others is starting to be transformed as a result.

Reading and re-reading imprints the words of Scripture on our minds and hearts. In his book Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster argues that the Discipline of Study is the most critical spiritual discipline for our transformation. He writes, “The apostle Paul tells us that we are transformed through the renewal of the mind (Rom. 12:2). The mind is renewed by applying it to those things that will transform it (Phil. 4:8). Therefore, we should rejoice that we are not left to our own devices but have been given this means of God’s grace for the changing of our inner spirit.”

God has given us the Scriptures upon which to fix our minds so that our thinking and behavior can be transformed.

As you are thinking about books to read this summer, why not throw in a short book of the Bible to read through each day on vacation? Or pick a longer book and read one chapter each day.

In summer time, God calls us to rest. But the kind of rest He calls us to transforms our minds, souls, and behaviors. I invite and encourage you to include God in your vacation planning.

       The Rev. David Trautman, Trinity Anglican Church, Thomasville GA 

June 16, 2017

Reprinted with permission

 

Ready or not, here it comes…The End-of-the-Year Appeal

fundraising-ideas-creative

You know that the word “Fundraising” is nowhere in the Bible. But you also know that Jesus spoke about money more times than any topic except the kingdom of God. Of the 39 parables in Scripture, 11 of them address the subject of money.

The end of the year is a popular time to address the topic of raising money. From a non-profit perspective, November and December is the most productive period of donor giving.

Not many church planters have a Development Officer on their staff. (Wouldn’t that be great?) That being said, how do you learn the tools of the fundraising trade?

We live in an age where the resources you need are right at your fingertips! To save you some time, we recommend these five tips on how to create an effective end of the year appeal letter.

First of all, Pray! Our Father in Heaven owns the cattle on a thousand hills! Before you begin to write, get on your knees (and ask your intercessors to do the same), asking God for wisdom. Not only does He give generously to those who ask, but He knows exactly how you are going to spend your monies in the next year, and He knows exactly how it will be provided! Take the time to thank Him in advance for His provision.

Secondly, as you begin to draft the letter, Cast Your Vision. People need to know to where God is calling you and how you are going to get there. Tell stories of how giving has impacted your mission–especially at the grassroots level. Reading a testimony may resonate with a possible donor in a way your vision never has before.

Thirdly, Focus on the Donors. Instead of saying what your church plant has done, focus on the givers in your letter. (One of the favorite words a reader likes to see is “you!”) Remind them that it is their giving which has allowed the stories you’ve shared to be told. And thank them for it.

Lastly, Personalize Your Letter. Sure, your letter will probably be computer generated, but do your absolute best to avoid a general salutation. Studies show that a simple “Dear Friend” actually increases that chance that the letter is will be thrown away without being read. Include the recipient name(s)–correctly spelled–and address, if possible.

P.S….Include a Post Script! A P.S. is sometimes read before the body of the letter. Take the time to thank the donor again, let them know how much money you are hoping to raise, give them the deadline for giving, or any call to action. If you have the time, a hand-written note makes for an effective post script.

What did we miss? Email, and let us know what you have found to be effective tools in your end-of-year appeal toolbox

by Titus Managing Director Jenni Bartling            November 10, 2016

Our Favorite Podcasts

According to the ever-reliable Wikipedia, podcasting, first known as “audioblogging,” has its roots dating back to the 1980s. With the advent of broadband internet and portable digital audio playback devices such as the iPod, podcasting began to catch hold in late 2004.
So, that means podcasts have been around for more than 30 years, with increasing accessibility in the last decade. And, in case you are interested, the five most popular subjects on US iTunes are News & Politics; Christianity; Professional Sports & Recreation; Philosophy & Self Help; and Comedy.
Like many other folks, we at Titus find podcasts to be not only entertaining, but educational and inspirational. They are a helpful, flexible learning format that you can take anywhere–on a run, as you travel, while you are cleaning the house, waiting in the doctor’s office…you name it!
We are always looking for new resources to offer our church planters and ministry leaders, and our podcast library is full of them. Here are a few of our favorites:
The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast 
Rainer on Leadership Podcast
The New Churches Q&A Podcast
The Always Forward Podcast 
Exponential Podcast
Tear Gas and Gumdrops
And, as church planters, it is important to sit under the teaching of other pastors, and be inspired by their sermons–which you can also do via podcasts. We love to listen to these folks:
Crazy Love Podcasts (with Francis Chan)
Timothy Keller Sermons Podcast
The Gospel Coalition Podcast (a variety of speakers)
Renewing Your Mind with RC Sproul 
Pray as You Go
What are you listening to? Let us know!
by Titus’ Managing Director Jenni Bartling September 7, 2016

Learning to work from rest: How is Your Sabbath?

 

Consistently hearing the question, “How are your quiet times?” from one of my ministry mentors did three things for me during the season we served together: One, it held me accountable. Eric really wanted to know how my time with God was going; Two, it was a great prompt. If I’d not been having daily devotional times, it was a great reminder to do so; and Three, that question showed me someone cared about my spiritual life as much or more than the work I was doing. Eric knew that time alone with the Lord had to be foundational to my service.

Following his example, and raising the ante, “How is your Sabbath?” is probably the most frequent question I ask my ministry colleagues and church planters. (And remember, as a coach, I ask a lot of questions!) Unfortunately, many times the response I get includes some hemming and hawing. But why? What makes taking the honoring the Sabbath do difficult?

You know the scriptural support for having a weekly Sabbath: God worked six days and rested on the seventh.

“But what about all the work that needs to be done?” Fair question. Church planting is demanding, and it seems the to-do list is never ending. But if taking a Sabbath was good enough for God, it should be for us, as well.

Working without rest does not honor God.  How we obey the commandment to “honor the Sabbath and keep it holy” reflects our priorities. When we can’t stop working because there is too much to do, we’re saying that we don’t trust God’s dominion over our work. That He needs us to accomplish His Kingdom efforts. (Newsflash! He does not.)

Full disclosure–I’m a fellow struggler. I love my work and the men and women I serve so much that it feels like a paid hobby for me! My job is energizing. However, when our lives are so full that we don’t make worshiping God a priority, and truly take rest from our work, we’re saying our earthly desires are more important than our relationship with him. Our jobs can become our gods.

Daily quiet time (or daily Sabbath) is enriched when one practices weekly Sabbath. Here are some tips Tom Herrick, Titus’ executive director, uses to help him honor the Sabbath:

  1. Look forward to a day of rest! Block out a day (it helps to make it the same one each week) in your calendar, and protect it.
  2. Have accountability. There is grace, of course, but it is helpful to know my team is going to ask me about my calendar and the Sabbath I’m carving out.
  3. Look for the fruit. After practicing the Sabbath for a few weeks, look at your to-do list, and be realistic about how far behind you are. You’ll be amazed at the productivity that comes with working from rest.
  4. Know God is behind you on this! As Senator Joe Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew writes, “The Sabbath is an old but beautiful idea that, in our frantically harried and meaning-starved culture, cries out to be rediscovered and enjoyed by people of all faiths. The Sabbath was given as a gift from God to everyone.”

Summer is a great time to begin practicing the Sabbath. Take time now, in preparation for the busy fall season. See what it is like to work from rest, instead of the other way around. I’ll venture to say that, as a popular restaurateur in my hometown used to say, “You’re gonna like it!”

By Titus’ Managing Director Jenni Bartling July 19, 2016 

Where is God’s Center?

Instilling a Missional Imagination   Part Two of Three

One of the great questions we have to deal with today as the Church is how to relate to our culture. This is a complex question that resists simple solutions, yet it is a vital part of learning to think and act missionally. In the midst of a rapidly changing world, we can find ourselves vacillating between various postures: “going with the flow” (you can’t change City Hall), actively building walls of separation, or ignoring what is happening altogether.

Unless we learn to engage consistently, we will not be able to effectively communicate our message to those who most need to hear it. Tim Keller unpacks this for us in his book Center Church, explaining that churches can place their ministries on a continuum ranging from being “overadapted” at one extreme to “underadapted” at the other. His counsel is to find the center. This will be that place where we are able to affirm those values that closely align to those of the Kingdom of God, while simultaneously challenging and confronting those which do not.

Overadapting places us in danger of losing our unique identity as we gradually accept the idols of the culture and lose the credibility necessary to call others to change. Underadapting renders us irrelevant, as no one will listen to us, deeming us to be judgmental, confusing, or offensive. Keller says, “To the degree a ministry is overadapted or underadapted to a culture, it loses life-changing power.” (p. 24)

Church leaders have struggled to find the center from the very beginnings of the biblical record. Old Testament leaders well understood the tendency to overadapt to the surrounding cultures. Despite their love for the Mosaic Law, they struggled constantly with keeping it, as they succumbed to their desire to become more like the nations around them (1 Sam 8:4-9).

These instances of overadaptation resulted in their compromising their unique identity as God’s people. Despite reform movements under faithful kings like Hezekiah and Josiah, Israel typically found themselves slipping back into places of idolatry and spiritual adultery. Given their experience, it is understandable that some of their leaders would underadapt and become more separatists in their views, as the Pharisees were. Yet, this misses the point, too, just in the opposite direction.

The struggle to find the center came to a head in Jesus’ ministry.  His focus on the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” consistently placed him in the company of those furthest from God, much to the displeasure of the religious leaders. Fearful of syncretism, they constantly opposed his ministry and saw him as a threat to their way of life. Yet, Jesus was clear in his priorities and understood that reaching out to those who were sick and in need of the doctor didn’t indicate a lack of love or concern for those who were well. His example was (as remains) a clarion call to engagement. He was expressing the need to listen to those who were hurting and without hope, reaching out with the healing touch of a loving God. This was not syncretism—it was pure and unbounded love.

The Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles present a similar picture of a young church seeking to find God’s center. Following the vision of the great sheet containing all kinds of food, Peter reaches out to Cornelius and his household (Acts 10). His explanation to his fellow leaders reflects Jesus’ more nuanced understanding that one could maintain the call to holiness while simultaneously engaging the culture. Barnabas and Paul followed Peter’s lead in Antioch and later took the call to reach the entire Gentile world with the message of the Gospel as their primary mission.

Like Peter, Paul also understood that the call to holiness and the call to engage the culture were not mutually exclusive, but two sides of the same calling. In fact, it is clear that in Paul’s mind, one could not adequately live out his calling unless he was engaging the culture (1 Co 9:20-22). Ultimately, it is this vision that has fueled all of the great missionary movements throughout church history. These questions remain relevant for us today and must be addressed.

The Fresh Expressions Movement that began in the Anglican Church in the UK almost 20 years ago is a great example for us to follow. Pioneer planters began establishing relationships with micro communities that would never darken the doors of their churches. Biker gangs, prostitutes, skaters, and hip hop artists are just a few. The emphasis for them began with listening. Each of these groups represented a sub-culture that had developed its own ways of thinking and communicating. Each of them had little or no relationship to the Church. To communicate the Gospel, they reasoned, they needed to first understand the other’s language. To do this, they had to establish relationships first, gain trust, and gradually earn the right to be heard.

These relational bridges are “pre-evangelistic” and need to be strong enough before the Gospel can be shared. The key is to be sure the bridge is strong enough to hold the weight of the message. Today more than 10% of the Anglican Church in England is made up of these Fresh Expressions who were previously far from God and completely disconnected from the life of Christ and from the Church. All of this became possible because faithful missionaries stopped waiting for them to come visit their churches and decided to go to find them in the highways and byways of their communities.

As our churches grapple with finding the center, we too need to master the art of listening and learning how others think and what they believe. There are vast differences which must be bridged. In a recent meeting, the Missional Planning team from All Nations DC recently articulated it this way: “Who do we want to be? In working towards our goals, are we catering to who we currently have in the congregation or tailoring for who we want to reach?” Excellent question! Another way to ask this might be, “For whom are we doing our ministries: ourselves or others who need to receive what God has given to us?”

The faithful Church in the twenty-first century must find the middle ground, the solid center, where we are unapologetically faithful to the One who has called, redeemed, and is sanctifying us while also building bridges and sharing the Gospel with those who do not yet know or follow Him. This is the fullest expression of our discipleship.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   by Titus Executive Director Tom Herrick    July 7, 2016

 

Thinking & Acting Missionally

Instilling a Missional Imagination Part One of Three

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
It has been exhilarating to be a part of the amazing shift that taking place within the Anglican movement over the past 10-20 years. Some refer to this shift as going from a maintenance mentality to a missional mode of doing ministry. I like to think of it as a heart change where we are learning to love the world the way Jesus does.
Although Jesus modeled for us how to care deeply for those who are not part of our church families, we are often slow to follow His lead. Hence, the need for a laser focus on missions-to ensure we are intentionally seeking the one still lost, not just caring for the 99 who are already in the fold.
Many people think of missions as an add-on for those who happen to be interested in that sort of thing or a luxury item for big churches who can afford it. The truth is that every church needs a missional DNA, especially new church plants. But how do we create this critical element, whether in an established congregation or in a new church?
I believe there are three practices that will greatly aid us in becoming missionally focused:
1) instilling a missional imagination;
2) learning to listen to and understand our culture; and
3) creating effective structures that will empower mission.
Together, these three elements will create a powerful ecosystem capable of moving any of our congregations out of the box and out the door.

This article will focus on the first of these practices, instilling a missional imagination, and will be followed by two others in coming weeks to complete the series as we explore how to create a missional church culture.The great saints in the Bible all shared a common trait: they were able to imagine how life could be different when one is in a relationship with the living God. They didn’t accept life as they were experiencing it as being the last word. They saw beyond the present circumstances to a world that was being cradled and transformed by the love of God. This became their standard and shaped what they thought and how they acted. In short, it became the driving force of their lives and defined reality for them. In Mary’s prayer, which we call the Magnificat, she expresses this so beautifully in these words,

“He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel,
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
The promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.”

We, too, learn to see life differently when we look through their eyes of faith. We realize that we are part of much larger mission that originates in the heart of God. We come to understand that this is his very nature. The God we are serving is missional to the core of His being. That is to say, God is a sending God. The Father sent the Son to redeem His lost creation; the Son sent the Spirit to empower the Church to spread the word; and now the same God sends us to complete this mission and bring the nations into the fold. Theologian Jürgen Moltmann notes that the Church does not have a mission of her own; God has a mission, so God created the Church to carry it out. This is known as the “missio dei” and we are invited not just to participate in it during our free times, but to see the whole of our lives in the context of it and to realize that our individual portions are significant pieces of a much larger puzzle. God is actually depending on us. He has no Plan B.

Once this takes root within our souls, it becomes life changing and begins to alter our priorities, our decisions, and our actions. Authors Branson and Warnes (Starting Missional Churches: Life with God in the Neighborhood) tell us that this takes shape in a number of ways. We begin to discern God’s initiatives, realizing that he is actively working every moment to bring the world to himself. As we press into this, we begin to see where we fit into God’s plans and how we can join him in what He is doing.

Missional thinking also helps us to see our neighbor differently. Rather than an object of our ministry efforts, s/he becomes a subject—one who is drawn to join and participate with us. We share our lives with others and invite them to claim their own calling from the God who loves them.

This type of life and mission necessitates “boundary crossing.” Like the God who is sending us, we are not content to sit idly by while others perish for lack of God’s love. We move beyond our own self-constructed walls and into the unknown without fear. And, we learn to go together.

Contrary to the hyper-individualistic culture in which we live, the missional mindset is shaped as a community gathered in Jesus’ name. We are never alone; nor are we sent out alone. We’re in this together, with each other and with the Holy Spirit, who empowers us. When we begin to think and act missionally, we are no longer content to go to church and live in the world. We realize that we must be the Church and go to the world. For, as St. Paul says, it is God who calls us to think and to act for his good purposes.

                                                                                                                                                           by Titus Executive Director Tom Herrick           June 8, 2016

A Playlist for Your Prayer List

Music

When launching a new congregation, prayer is your greatest asset as you seek to reach the people to whom God has called you. You can engage intercession at many levels: as a planter, it is imperative to have personal prayer warriors; your church should have its own intercessors; your leadership should be praying regularly for the hearts of those God may be preparing to visit your church.

And you can prayer walk. Have you tried it? Prayer walking is a great way to build community as you pray for your community. What might happen if members of your congregation began investing time seeking God’s direction, and asking His favor on the places where we live or frequent?

Below is our top-10 list of recommended music your prayer warriors could use while walking through their neighbor-hoods or driving through your targeted communities. The music (not played too loudly, of course!) helps to direct our prayers, and makes the experience even more worshipful.

The lyrics of Paul Baloche’s Open the Eyes of My Heart begs God to give us eyes to see things we’ve never noticed before.   “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord/Open the eyes of my heart/I want to see You.” It is a great way to begin your prayer walk–an opportunity to pray “on site with insight.”

The words of To Know You by Casting Crowns speaks to the difference our personal relationship with Jesus makes in our lives, and recognizing what it can do for others: “To know You is to never worry for my life/To know You is to never give into compromise and/To know You is to want to tell the world about You/’Cause I can’t live without You/”To know You is to hear Your voice when You are calling/To know You is to catch my brother when he is falling/To know You is to feel the pain of the brokenhearted/’Cause they can’t live without You.”

You’re the God of This City, by Chris Tomlin, offers praise to God, acknowledging who he is and the hope he offers: “You’re the Light in this darkness/You’re the Hope to the hopeless/You’re the Peace to the restless…/For greater things have yet to come/And greater things are still to be done in this City.”

We are challenged to serve and share the love of Christ with others in the words of Until the Whole World Hears, another song by Casting Crowns: “Ready yourselves, ready yourselves/Let us shine the light of Jesus in the darkest night/Ready yourselves, ready yourselves/May the powers of darkness tremble as our praises rise/Until the whole world hears, Lord, we are calling out/Lifting up your name for all to hear the sound/Like voices in the wilderness, we’re crying out/And as the day draws near/We’ll sing until the whole world hears.

The song Save My Life, by Sidewalk Prophets encourages us to look people in the eyes, and “Tell me what I need to hear/Tell me that I’m not forgotten/Show me there’s a God/Who can be more than all I’ve ever wanted.”

Every Man, also by Casting Crowns, reminds us that “There is hope for every man/A solid place where we can stand/In this dry and weary land/There is hope for every man/There is love that never dies/There is peace in troubled times/Will we help them understand/Jesus is hope for every man.”

Jeremy Camp’s song Jesus Saves urges us to “Sing it out/To let all the world know that Jesus saves/Raise a shout/To let all the world know that Jesus saves.”

The words to Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble? by Sonic Flood provide wonderful word-pictures: “We can see that God you’re moving/A mighty river through the nations/When young and old return to Jesus/Fling wide you heavenly gates/Prepare the way of the risen Lord!”

Donnie McClurkin’s The Days of Elijah also provides a pretty clear picture for us: “And these are the days of the harvest/The fields are all white in Your world/And we are the laborers that are in Your vineyard/Declaring the Word of the Lord.”

And, finally, be sure to include the well-love hymn, Amazing Grace. “Amazing Grace/How sweet the sound/That saved a wretch like me/I was once lost/But now am found/Was blind but now I see.”  It is because of God’s amazing grace that we are about praying for and reaching out neighbors. It was by His amazing grace that someone did the same for us!

What other songs would you add to our list? Feel free to email us with any suggestions you might have!

by Guest Blogger and Titus Regional Director Jenni Bartling           April 4, 2016

Do You See What God Sees?

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“Without vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18)

Tim Keller says, “Vision is a faithful restatement of the Gospel with rich implications for life, ministry, and mission in a type of culture at a moment in history.” Here at Titus, we like to define vision as a “picture of God’s preferred future for a church, organization or person.”

So, if God has His way, what will you see? God’s way is so much bigger than ours! The fact that He can do exceedingly more than we ask or imagine is astounding. And, sometimes, it can feel greedy/intimidating/overwhelming/ scary/______________ (fill-in-the-blank) to dream as big as God encourages us to do.

Church Planters, I want to encourage you to dream big! (And leaders of established churches, don’t be afraid to do the same.)

“We are on a mission from God” is not just a line from the “Blues Brothers” movie. We get to live mission out in front of our community, in our community, and with our community.

Think about it. What would be different if God’s reign was established in your community?  It’s an amazing question. Every locale has issues that do not line up with the reign of God, right? So, choose one or two of those issues, and determine to make those things right, by the grace of God, in your community

If you get started right now, what will your congregation’s neighborhood look like in five years?

Keep in mind there are two ways you can know your vision is from the Lord. Number one: It is consistent with Scripture. Number two: Allow God to confirm it. That confirmation can come in a number of different ways. One of the ways that it comes is in your sharing with other people, and their responses to it.

When a vision is from the Lord, there is a compelling nature about it. It just stirs you, and it stirs the people you are with. And it gets them excited about it as well.

The flipside of Proverbs 29:18 is, “With vision, the people gather!” The question is, “Do you see what God sees?”

Excerpted from Church Planter Bootcamp Training

the Rev. Tom Herrick and the Rev. Jay Baylor March 8, 2015

Taking CARE of Your Planter Families

View More: http://benjaminbartlingdesign.pass.us/hilton-head-2015

When Titus conducts a church planting discernment interview, both husband and wife are required to participate in the exercise. There are a couple of reasons for that stipulation. One is because we use a behavioral interview–sometimes the spouse can nudge the memory of the planting candidate, and remind him or her of experiences in case of “brain freeze.” More importantly, though, it is so we can observe the interaction of husband and wife

Doing all we can to protect the families of God’s ministers is a non-negotiable for us. Anyone who has participated in church planting knows how the ministry really can suck you in…and it is important that the family structure is prepared to balance the demands of the calling. We ask the husband and wife questions that reveal the ministry-personal balance of their lives together, tell us about how they resolve conflict, describe their respective roles and expectations in ministry, and indicate the level of shared convictions when it comes to church planting. Marital health is directly related to the success of a nascent church.

But what happens to the wife and children when the church planting ball gets rolling? (We know that many women are church planters, and it is the husband who provides spousal support. This article references “wives,” but certainly applies to husbands as well.)

Church planters have many demands on their time…meetings with leadership, meetings with supervisors, meetings with community leaders, meetings with staff, planning for outreaches, engaging in outreaches, preparing for worship, preparing the weekend’s message, preparing Bibles studies, visiting the hospitalized, spending time with mentors, spending time with accountability groups, connecting with a coach. The list goes on and on and on, and needs to include family demands as well!

And the spouses are not sitting at home eating bonbons! According to Parakleo, a support system for church planting wives, “The average church planting spouse (CPS) is heavily invested in the life of the church: She simultaneously leads 3.5 major ministries (or works outside the home) while serving as the primary childcare giver and providing extensive ministry hospitality. Over eighty percent of church planter wives surveyed reported a lack of denominational care and support. One hundred percent requested mentoring or some form of a support system.” That lack of support has been identified as a critical stressor in the marriage.

So, how are your church planting spouses supported? The acronym CARE denotes four ways that have proven successful:

Coach: The aim of coaching is to help others succeed—to discover what God wants them to do, and empower them to do it. The coaching relationship has proven effective time and time again with church planters. What would it be like to invest in the wives of your church planters, and come alongside them in a journey to success?

Assemble: Being a church planter/spouse/couple can be very isolating. Provide a safe place for your wives to share what’s on their hearts with others who are traveling the same road. Give them the opportunity to meet regularly with experienced women who have gone before them—and survived!

Resource: There are many books, blogs, Pinterest posts, and websites available to encourage church planter spouses and help them to navigate their unique situations. Be sure to make them available.

Evaluate: One on one, or in a group, give the spouse an opportunity to step back and see what the Lord has done in their midst. Too often one project or goal is accomplished, and we are pour ourselves into the next thing on the list. God celebrated the goodness at the end of each day he created. Shouldn’t we? Doing so will encourage your CPSes and the church planters in their lives!

Learn more about the Titus Church Planter Discernment Process here. Our next Coaching 101 is a perfect opportunity to learn how to coach your planters and their spouses!

by Guest Blogger and Titus Regional Director Jenni Bartling           February 3, 2016

 

What are your New Year’s Resolutions?


January 1, 2016, is less than one month away. Can you believe it? Before we know it, we’ll be making–and quickly forgetting–our New Year’s Resolutions.
New Year’s Resolutions are often about making a “better me,” aren’t they?  According to Psychology Today, studies show that the most common New Year’s Resolutions are losing weight, exercising more, and quitting smoking. Other popular resolutions include managing debt, saving money, getting a better job or education, reducing stress, or taking a trip. Volunteering-a resolution designed to help others (although one certainly gets the self-satisfaction of doing so)-was a little further down on the list.
I want to invite you to move “volunteering” up to the number one spot in 2016.  Not volunteering to become a “better you,” but performing intentional acts of kindness toward others that honor God. In other words, doing the mission work that is needed in our own backyards!
Here is a baker’s dozen of suggestions to get you, your family and/or your parish started–one idea for each month of the year.  (December is such an easy time for intentional outreach, it makes sense to start with this month.)
Think in advance about how you want to reply if you are asked why you are offering these acts of kindness. There is no wrong answer!
December:
Host a birthday party for Baby Jesus! Invite neighborhood children to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. (And give Mom and Dad the gift of some kid-free time!)
January: 
Shovel the snow off the sidewalks or driveway of an unsuspecting neighbor-elderly or otherwise. (If you live in a warmer climate, offer to cut the grass or trim bushes.)
February:
Send a Valentine’s Day card to a recently-widowed man or woman. Let them know they are still loved by God.
March:
Easter is on March 27 in 2016. Host an Easter Egg Hunt in your neighborhood, at a local park, or in your churchyard.
April:
Celebrate the rebirth of spring by passing out flower seeds to neighbors.
May:
Prepare a Mother’s Day meal for a single mom.
June:
Offer to pay for a neighbor’s child(ren) to attend your parish’s Vacation Bible School.
July:
Fill a cooler full of popsicles and hand them out at a nearby park or on a running trail-to adults and children alike!
August:
Collect and fill backpacks for the underprivileged. Send those kids back to school in style!
September:
Call a neighbor before you head to the grocery store, and see if there is anything s/he needs you to pick up.
October:
Get a group together, and offer to rake the yards of homes surrounding your place of worship.
November:
Food pantry shelves get bare at this time of the year. Consider hosting a food drive, or donating non-perishable products to your local pantry.
December:
Host an inexpensive babysitting night at church or a local community childcare facility.  Moms and Dads will certainly appreciate the break during the busiest of seasons-and will love the extra time to shop…or nap!

Eugene Peterson’s The Message interpretation of Hebrews 10:24-25 reads: “Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on…” Let us know what other creative ideas that you come up with in 2016!

by Guest Blogger and Titus Regional Director Jenni Bartling           December 4, 2015

 

A Not-So-Favorite Christmas Tradition–The End-of-the-Year Appeal

fundraising-ideas-creative

 

You know that the word “Fundraising” is nowhere in the Bible. But you also know that Jesus spoke about money more times than any topic except the kingdom of God. Of the 39 parables in Scripture, 11 of them address the subject of money.

The end of the year is a popular time to address the topic of raising money. From a non-profit perspective, November and December is the most productive period of donor giving.

Not many church planters have a Development Officer on their staff. (Wouldn’t that be great?) That being said, how do you learn the tools of the fundraising trade?

We live in an age where the resources you need are right at your fingertips! To save you some time, we recommend these five tips on how to create an effective end of the year appeal letter.

First of all, Pray! Our Father in Heaven owns the cattle on a thousand hills! Before you begin to write, get on your knees (and ask your intercessors to do the same), asking God for wisdom. Not only does He give generously to those who ask, but He knows exactly how you are going to spend your monies in the next year, and He knows exactly how it will be provided! Take the time to thank Him in advance for His provision.

Secondly, as you begin to draft the letter, Cast Your Vision. People need to know to where God is calling you and how you are going to get there. Tell stories of how giving has impacted your mission–especially at the grassroots level. Reading a testimony may resonate with a possible donor in a way your vision never has before.

Thirdly, Focus on the Donors. Instead of saying what your church plant has done, focus on the givers in your letter. (One of the favorite words a reader likes to see is “you!”) Remind them that it is their giving which has allowed the stories you’ve shared to be told. And thank them for it.

Lastly, Personalize Your Letter. Sure, your letter will probably be computer generated, but do your absolute best to avoid a general salutation. Studies show that a simple “Dear Friend” actually increases that chance that the letter is will be thrown away without being read. Include the recipient name(s)–correctly spelled–and address, if possible.

P.S….Include a Post Script! A P.S. is sometimes read before the body of the letter. Take the time to thank the donor again, let them know how much money you are hoping to raise, give them the deadline for giving, or any call to action. If you have the time, a hand-written note makes for an effective post script.

What did we miss? Email, and let us know what you have found to be effective tools in your end-of-year appeal toolbox.

by Guest Blogger and Titus Regional Director Jenni Bartling            November 17, 2015

Sharing the Gospel–A confidence you might have forgotten

by Guest Blogger and Titus Regional Director Jenni Bartling

Several years ago, the Most Rev. Robert Duncan, the first archbishop of the brand-new Anglican Church in North America, challenged his congregations to plant 1000 new churches during his five-year tenure.

One of the benchmarks of “success” he set for the church multiplication movement was that at least one-half of new attendees would be comprised of new converts–men and women who hear and receive the Gospel message. (The archbishop was eager to have more adult baptisms than adult confirmations!)

We are reminded again and again that church planting is the most effective form of evangelism, but we cannot leave evangelism simply to our church plants. We are all called to share the gospel message, whether we think evangelism is our “gift” or not.

It is easy to make excuses for avoiding evangelism: I’m no Billy Graham! What if I say the wrong thing? What if I don’t know the right answers? What if I totally mess up the conversation?

Find comfort and courage in these words to the Apostle Paul:

“And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.’ And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.” (Acts 18.9-11)

God’s call lays the groundwork for evangelism. God had already chosen many in Corinth–He called them “my people,” even before Paul shared the Gospel message with them. God told Paul not to be fearful, but to keep proclaiming the Gospel.  He invited Paul to be His harvester. And He does the same with us. We can have courage!

There are many in our own cities and communities, our workplaces and schools, who are God’s chosen ones–many who are waiting to hear the Good News. And God invites us to participate in this wonderful work.

Even Paul needed God’s reminding: “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you…I have many in this city who are my people.”

Hopefully, you’ll find these words encouraging. God is the One Who gives us the grace to speak with confidence. The hearer’s salvation is dependent on Him, not our eloquent conversation skills.

October 23, 2015

Llama-tations

I recently had the privilege of joining 10 other senior Anglican leaders and three wilderness guides for a week-long leadership retreat in the Colorado Rockies.

The hike up to our base camp at 11,500 feet was made even more exciting by the presence of four llamas carrying our food and much of our gear. My llama, an adolescent named Joe (I assume he was an adolescent because he stopped constantly to eat!), proved to be a tremendous challenge whenever he wasn’t leading the pack. Following another llama is not in Joe’s DNA. He is what is known as an ‘alpha’ llama. When he wasn’t rearing up on his hind legs in protest, or pushing one of us into a tree, or drenching one of us in a mountain stream, Joe was otherwise busy ignoring all of my efforts to lead him. It took lots of trial and error to figure out how to get through to him. I have to laugh when I reflect on it because leading Joe bore a distinct resemblance to church leadership.

Like a llama, church leadership can be a strange animal. It is a wonderful blend of exhortation, encouragement, and perseverance. When you add calling, vision, and mission into the lot, then mix in prayer and obedience, it becomes almost mystical in nature. Many church leaders do not believe they are their own bosses. They answer to a higher authority—the one who promises to build his church. Yet, the truth remains that the incarnational nature of our faith intricately ties who we are into what we do.

In other words, leading is more than what we do—it is who we are.

Recent studies show that only three percent of pastors in active ministry consider themselves leaders. This statistic is alarming on many levels and hints at why the Church is experiencing losses in attendance and membership. It is probably a reflection on the nature of the work, as well as the methods of training and preparation we use. At the heart of it, the issue may be one of role definition. Many pastors consider themselves teachers, others see themselves as pastors entrusted with the “cure of souls.” Few understand that their central role is to be one of leadership. However, the long-term health and vitality of a church is often tied directly to the strength of the leadership.

So the question I’ve been turning over is this: “What are we doing to develop our leaders?”

My retreat was organized, funded, and led by the Anglican Leadership Initiative (ALI), which sprang from a vision God gave to David Drake, rector of Church of the Resurrection seven years ago. Convinced that developing our clergy and lay leaders was at the heart of the success of our new movement, David joined forces with several others to create a means to refresh leaders in the great outdoors by creating disequilibrium (hence the llamas!) then drawing them closer to God and to one another.

The community that developed was extraordinary—we had to depend on each other for the basic necessities of life. As we listened, prayed, fished, hiked, rappelled, climbed rocks, and went white-water rafting, we were recharged and God’s vision for our ministries was renewed. God was whispering into our lives and reminding us of the dreams He has given us over the years. With those gentle reminders, He released again the passion and drive that often leaks out over time.

I am profoundly grateful for the investment made in me. Having just been recharged reminded me of the need every leader has to get away, pray, and listen for God’s direction. So I need to ask you: What can you do to refresh and care for your leaders? Where do you see your leaders getting a bit testy? What are the signs of fatigue? It may be time to hang out with a llama.

Excerpted with permission from the Mid-Atlantic Messenger, a publication of the Diocese of the Mid Atlantic.

September 2, 2015

 

God loves a cheerful giver…and ask-er?

FUNDRAISING. There, I said it–in boldface and all caps. It’s a curse word for some church planters. The challenge for many. And God’s provision to most.

Fundraising is a dreaded action step on the to-do list of the vast majority of planters. Unless you’ve had prior experience (and success) in raising support in the past, just the idea of it is overwhelming.

Believe me, I understand. Been there. Done that. And I’m still doing it so that Titus has the financial bandwidth to invest as deeply in church planters as possible. We could not offer the level of assessment, coaching, or training we do without our supporters!

But here’s the flipside of raising funds for your ministry. When we look at it from a Kingdom perspective, everything changes. (Of course!) What I have discovered over the past 30 years is that gathering support does five critical things:

Improves your prayer life. “You have not because you ask not,” Matthew 7:7 tells us. And who better to ask to meet our needs than our Heavenly Father Who owns the cattle on a thousand hills?

Increases your dependence on the Lord Philippians 4:19 reminds us, “My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His Glory in Christ Jesus.” Note that Paul uses the words “all” and “needs,” not “some” and “wants,” respectively.

Builds your faith and your testimony “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you,” is the direction we are given in Matthew 6:33. It is such an encouragement to others to be able to share how God provides, even at the eleventh hour! (And sometimes it is at 59 minutes past the eleventh hour.) The consistent witness throughout the Bible is that God is faithful to care and provide for his people. But, their witness must become our personal testimony. This happens as our faith is tested and refined through daily experience.

Develops ministry partnerships God does not want you to do this alone; He wants you to engage others in your church planting efforts. Consider this from 3 John 1:5-8: “Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they are strangers; and they have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore, we ought to support such men, so that we may be fellow workers with the truth.”

Expands the Kingdom. Finally, Paul was grateful for the partnership of the Philippians, not just for their provision, but because of how it would affect the Kingdom in the long run. “…being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Giving does not just impact you, your church plant, or your community, it changes the giver, and triggers a domino effect for eternity!

There are many, many resources available on how to raise funds for your church plant, so I’m not going to recreate the wheel. One tool I find very helpful is accessible here.

What vehicles for gathering resources have you used? Email me, and let me know!

August 1, 2015

Observing the Sabbath Day

Last week, popular author Max Lucado tweeted, “God created the universe in six days; He rested on the seventh. His message? If creation didn’t crash when I rested, it won’t crash when you do!” Ouch!

Church planters (and pastors) often have a hard time taking a Sabbath. There is so much to do and such little time to do it.  I can hear you now, “If I don’t do this, who will?”

I know making time for Sabbath is difficult. I write this column as a fellow struggler.  That being said, I also know the great relief God provides when I honor the Sabbath, as He commands.

A few months ago, the Titus staff leaned on me to begin taking a day off again. Their concern also provided a very helpful accountability, and it has been wonderful to see the fruit a weekly day of rest has given. Yes, doing ‘nothing’ has borne fruit! So why is it that observing the Sabbath is so difficult for some of us?

I believe it begins with the rhythms we learn as children. Our day begins at dawn and we get busy right away. It is helpful to note that ancient Hebrew culture marks time differently than we do in 21st century America. For them, the day began at sundown and all work was done after having rested. For those of us raised in the “performance-oriented” western world, we work first, then rest–after the work is done. (And it never is!)

Learning to re-orient and work from rest is not only biblical, but a deeply spiritual discipline. We learn to breathe, to exhale, and to listen to God throughout our day. That ongoing conversation is meant to provide necessary limits and constraints. Without them, we are at the mercy of the demands of others or, worse yet, of our own internal pressures.

Recently, Jenni Bartling, a Titus regional director, asked me what impact consistently taking a day off has had on my to-do list. As I thought about her question, I realized there have been no negative effects. I am accomplishing as much (if not more) as I was when I was working seven days a week!

Again, I am a fellow struggler. Christians aren’t bound by Old Testament Sabbath directives. But GOD rested on the seventh day. What keeps you from doing so?

Here are some tips that are helping me honor the Sabbath:
  1. Look forward to a day of rest! Block out a day (it helps to make it the same one each week) in your calendar, and protect it.
  2. Have accountability. There is grace, of course, but it is helpful to know my team is going to ask me about my calendar and the Sabbath I’m carving out.
  3. Look for the fruit. After practicing the Sabbath for a few weeks, look at your to-do list, and be realistic about how far behind you are. You’ll be amazed at the productivity that comes with working from rest.
  4. Know God is behind you on this! As Senator Joe Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew writes, “The Sabbath is an old but beautiful idea that, in our frantically harried and meaning-starved culture, cries out to be rediscovered and enjoyed by people of all faiths. The Sabbath was given as a gift from God to everyone.”

Learning to work from rest creates in us a habit of centered obedience. This doesn’t come naturally or easily, but it is worth the effort. Once we make the transition, we begin to experience the deep satisfaction that comes from walking with and allowing God to “make straight” our paths (Prov 3:5-6). There is nothing that compares to sharing life with the Lover of our souls this way.

These summer months give us a great opportunity to begin. As one who is recently rediscovering what it is like to work from rest, I heartily encourage you to get started. Trust me – your work will be there when you get back to it.

How do you observe the Sabbath? What tips and/or encouragement do you have for others? Email me and let me know!

July 2, 2015

Tom’s Tips–The Best in Church Planting Resources

 I have been a church planter for nearly two-thirds of my life. Of course, I’ve seen many positive changes over that time. (I remember the days when the words “church planting” had to be explained even to those in the Christian church-goer world!)

Tom - headshot
In addition to church planting becoming more of the norm, one of the greatest advances I’ve observed is the number of resources available to men and women launching new congregations. Books, articles, websites, blogs, seminary classes and conferences abound! Below are a list of some of the tools–in no particular order–that colleagues and I have found to be most helpful.
 
Books 
The Church Planting Wife: Help and Hope for Her Heart, Hoover
Center Church, Keller
Global Church Planting, Ogden & Wilson
Church Planting in the 21st Century, Malphurs
The Shaping of Things to Come, Hirsch & Frost
Fresh! An Introduction to Fresh Expressions of Church and Pioneer Ministry, Goodhew, Roberts, & Volland
Church Planting Landmines: Mistakes to Avoid in Years 2 through 10, Nebel & Rohrmayer
Viral Churches, Stetzer & Bird
Ten Most Common Mistakes Made by New Church Starts, Griffith & Easum
Church Unique, Mancini
Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours?, Allen
 
Websites
www.jenhatmaker.com (for wives)
 
Twitter
@anglicanpastor
@ed_choy
@alanhirsch
@edstetzer
@churchplanting
@praxis2015
@jenhatmaker (for wives)
@titusplanting (of course!)
 
Conferences
Exponential West 2015 (Info coming soon)
 
I know this list is not exhaustive, and I’d love to know what resources have been most helpful to you. Email me with your recommendations!
June 4, 2015

Tom’s Tips–Make the most of conferences and training events.

It is training and conference season. Continuing education is imperative, but too often the only take-away from such opportunities ends up on your bookshelf–simply another how-to binder or the speaker’s newly published work.

Consider these tips to make the most of the time, energy and resources you are investing:

  1. Do your homework

If your training program includes a pre-assignment to be completed before the event, do it! You want to start the learning process on the right foot, instead of feeling like you are playing catch-up from the get-go. (Pre-work also helps you to make the change from the work-to-learning mode in your brain.)

  1. Reflect on the outcome you want

Why are you investing in this training? What kind of take-away do you need? Perhaps you want a new or improved skill. Or maybe you need to build your network of go-to associates. Knowing your preferred outcome improves your chances of attaining it. It also helps you make better decisions when you need to choose between a variety of workshops.

  1. Don’t go alone

Often, capturing the material presented at training events is like drinking from a fire hydrant; sometimes you just cannot catch everything being taught! Having colleagues or team mates alongside provide two purposes: more ears to hear means more information retained; and it is a great way to get the entire team on the same page—important in any ministry, but particularly in church planting and development.

  1. Stay “Out of Office”

Be sure to turn off or silence your phone, shut down your email, and only open as many browser windows as are needed for the training. I know this sounds like heresy, but multi-tasking in a learning environment is otherwise known as distraction. Valuable information is missed when you take your focus on the presenter, and turn it to the technology calling your name.

       5.  Know your learning style

Do you know how you normally learn? If you are a visual learner, be sure to position yourself where you can easily see the presenter and any a/v tools. Take good notes, so you can review and re-read them. If you are an auditory learner, grab a seat near the sound booth, where you are guaranteed to hear the speaker well. Perhaps ask the trainer if you can record the session, so you can listen to it again later. Are you a kinesthetic learner? Feel free to doodle away, to illustrate and reinforce your learnings. Create graphics and charts. Bring along colored pens and highlighters, too! However you learn best, be sure to find a very simple way to record your thoughts so you can retrieve them later when you’re putting what you’ve learned into practice.

      6.  Reflect with your team

At breaks, or at the end of each day, carve out time to reflect on what you’ve heard. Ask three questions: What jumped out to you today? How is it helpful to your work? What will you do differently?

       7.  Create an Action Plan

Based on your desired outcomes and daily reflections, develop a plan that includes:

  • Specific actions to take over the next X-number-of weeks/months
  • When you’ll take the actions
  • Identify the reasons you want to take these steps
  • Obstacles that might get in the way, and how you’ll tackle the them
  • How you’ll reward yourself

8. Get a Coach

Having a coach to come alongside you is an effective way to accelerate your progress toward a goal. Having a coach keeps your desire outcome before you and helps you to develop the plan to get there.

What would you add to this list? I’d love to hear more. Email me!

April 20, 2015

Discipleship Evangelism

by Guest Blogger and Titus Regional Director Jenni Bartling

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19)

When one of our clergy asked me, “Who are you discipling?” I began to recite the names of some Christians in my sphere of influence…and surprised myself when I also listed my friend Linda Thomas.* Linda is not a believer. Raised in a Jewish home, she, her Protestant-raised husband and unchurched son consider themselves to be Secular Humanists.

Linda and I met 10 years ago, when our boys were best friends in Kindergarten. After a few play dates, she told me, “Jenni, I know you are really religious, but I like you. I hope we can be friends.” “Ooooh, Harvest field ready for the pickin’!” I thought, smiling to myself. I was very eager to develop this friendship.

Although our sons have grown apart, Linda and I are still close.

Throughout the last decade, I have been intentional about this special friendship. Ours is a safe place, where Linda can freely question my faith, and I can challenge her lack thereof. We have agreed to disagree.

Still, I am the one to whom Linda turns when she has spiritual questions. When the 911 terrorist attacks took place, she called me and asked, “What are we going to tell our boys? How can we explain this?” I reminded her of the role my faith plays in my perspective on life, noting that God was not happy about the tragedy, nor was He surprised by it. Her Humanist-based response? “I know what I’ll do. I’ll tell Brian (her son) that no human being, no mother, would ever raise their child to do such an evil thing.” “Linda,” I replied, “That’s who it was—human beings–who just orchestrated these attacks.” Silence.

Awhile back, Linda phoned me because she was disconcerted after participating in a religious-based Facebook dialogue. She was distressed—and appalled–at the way in which “Christians” were poking fun at another religion. “This is why I don’t trust Christians,” she said. “How can they be so mean?’ God used the opportunity to talk with Linda about the fallen nature of humans, and the importance of looking to Jesus, rather than men and women, as the true model of Christianity.

Most recently, Linda and her family teamed up with a community service organization named “People Helping People.” One Easter, she and a group of folks served a special dinner to the guests at Pittsburgh’s Ronald McDonald House. (The Thomases do not celebrate Easter, so they had no other plans that day.) Linda’s desire to serve others has given us another opportunity to examine our “religions.” She told me that she feels like she “has to give” because the act gives purpose to her life. I told Linda that I “get to give,” because of the life that Jesus has given to me.

Linda has not yet developed a relationship with Jesus, and still tells me she is not a “seeker.” (We have been friends long enough now, that I laugh outloud when she says that.) But it is Linda who consistently raises the spiritual matters when we are together. She is being discipled, and I pray that what she is learning will someday lead her into the arms of Jesus.

Now, it is my turn to ask you, “Who are you discipling?” How many non-Christians are on that list?

*not her real name

March 24, 2015

Welcome to the New Kansas!

When Dorothy looks around in wonder and exclaims, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore” she could easily have been in any one of our neighborhoods in the Mid-Atlantic region of the US. So much has changed in such a short time that it’s difficult to recognize it as home.

When my family moved to Centreville, Virginia, from Houston in 1994, most of our neighbors were Anglos who spoke English as their first language. By 2000, the census data revealed that the Asian population in our zip codes had grown over 1000% in ten years. The Spanish-speaking population had grown over 500% during the same period.

At a recent Christmas gathering in my neighbor’s home, I looked around the room and realized that I was one of a very few whose first language was English. The others in the room spoke Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Sudanese, or Spanish as their first language. Population trends throughout the region show that my neighborhood is not unusual. Unlike Dorothy, we’re not trying to get home—we’re already there. It’s just that home looks and sounds a lot different than it used to. Welcome to the New Kansas!

To look more closely at these changes, let’s narrow our focus to just one ethnic group—the Hispanic population. In a recent article, Bob Centa makes these observations on the Hispanic Realities in North America:

  1. The growth of the Hispanic population in American has exceeded all estimates.  Between 1970 and 2000 it grew by 25.7 million.  It will nearly triple to 102.6 million by 2050 and become ¼ of the US population (Source: Current Population Survey, March 2002, PGP-5);
  2. Hispanics have spread throughout the country faster than any previous immigrant group. (Source: “Latino Growth in Metropolitan America,” The Brookings Institution Center on Urban & Metropolitan Policy and the Pew Hispanic Center);
  3. The first generation (the immigrants) has become the largest segment of the Hispanic population (Source: Pew Hispanic Center, Roberto Suro and Jeffery Passel, The Rise of the Second Generation, October, 2003);
  4. The use of the Spanish language has increased in the past two decades. (Ibid)  Spanish language television captured more teens nationwide than MTV, more men than ESPN and three times as many viewers as CNN; and
  5. Hispanics are showing more receptivity to the Evangelical Gospel than ever before.  Fr. Andrew Greeley indicates that 23% of Hispanics are joining Evangelical Protestant churches every year.

Is God working to reshape your community to more closely resemble the New Jerusalem described by St. John in Revelation 7:9-10? Do you see what John sees: “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’”

As we morph from being the New Kansas to become the New Jerusalem, we are trusting God to give us the boldness to overcome cultural and linguistic obstacles to reach those of other ethnicities. By his grace and in his power, we welcome its emergence and trust that he will teach us to navigate this new terrain.

Excerpted with permission from the Mid-Atlantic Messenger, a publication of the Diocese of the Mid Atlantic.

March 11, 2015

From Multiplication to Exponential Growth

I still remember a very animated conversation I had years ago with my friend Canon William Beasley, who heads up the Greenhouse Movement—an Anglican church multiplication network based in Wheaton, IL. It was March 2011, and William had come to visit and put on a weekend conference to help us think more creatively about how to plant lots of new churches. The conversion centered on our need to think more in terms of multiplication than addition when it comes to church planting. He was standing firm in his belief that addition does not just lead automatically into multiplication when it comes to church planting. In other words, when our mindset is to think in terms of planting one church at a time, we will never just naturally grow into planting lots and lots of new churches simultaneously.

Part of my reticence to accept his point of view stemmed from my belief that most of us are thrilled just to see one new church get started occasionally. After all, a new church plant means more people coming to Christ, another community being served, and the Kingdom of God expanding. What’s not to like? William was contending that it is a question of expectations and the kind of culture we are creating in our diocese. In a multiplication paradigm, we think exponentially and grow to expect that our churches will reproduce on an ongoing basis.

Is it really possible for us to get there? William thought so. Now, I do, too.

In his new book, SPARK: Igniting a Culture of Multiplication, Todd Wilson, a close personal friend and one of the founding members of the Exponential Church Planting Network, shows how creating this type of culture actually results in being able to plant more churches with less effort. As if he was listening in on my conversation with William, Todd states that you can’t just go from Addition to Multiplication, but you can go from Multiplication to Exponential Growth, where “multiplication generates a chain reaction that increases the output in every succeeding cycle.”

Exponential 2015 is April 27-30, 2015, in Tampa, Florida.  The theme this year is SPARK: Igniting a Culture of Multiplication, inspired by Todd’s book. There will be over 100 speakers representing the best church planting leaders in the country.

You are welcome to join us. Learn more here.

February 23, 2015

 

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