2015 Archives

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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