A Church Planting Story - Chapter 4
Paul tried to be all things to all people, but that didn’t mean he was all things to everyone all the time. He adapted to the place and the people he was with at any given moment “to win as many as possible.”
Jared and Laura wanted to do more than stand on the street corner and shout out that they were planting a new church. They wanted to be in people’s lives, to forge new relationships with all different kinds of people.
Jared, who lost a brother to addiction and hard life choices, wanted to be in the lives of people like that brother. So he sought out the shelters and the detention centers. He volunteered to help victims of domestic violence and to ride along with the police. He and Laura, with their neighbors, saw repeated evidence that drugs were being bought and sold right beside their house. Instead of throwing their hands up in despair, they went to work. For months, they documented cars’ makes and models, time of day, license plates, and more. When they’d amassed enough evidence, they turned it over to the police, who were able to break up a drug ring in North Seattle because of the Kings and their neighbors.
Earlier this year, North Seattle United met to worship. 16 churches from North Seattle gathered in unity and solidarity. It was exciting, energizing, inspirational.
The next morning, Jared went to his office. The sidewalk outside was littered with heroin needles. The temptation was to crash back to earth with the reality of darkness in Seattle. Jared allowed himself that initial pessimism, but then he said, “No. Let’s not be depressed by how little difference we have made. Let’s let the reality propel us to change.”
Even when they feel like they’re not making a difference, they are. They continue to address real life head on, convinced that even when they feel like there’s no movement, there is.
Jared reminds himself that the 10 months it took to break up the drug ring was about persistence. And if that doesn’t feel like they made a dent, it’s just a reminder that the enemy is strong, but our God is stronger.
We must be diligent. God will not be defeated.
A Church Planting Story - Chapter 3
When Jared and Laura skydived into Seattle in 2014 (not literally, but it was just as scary), they had their plans, their dreams, and their expectations. Piled on top of their own expectations for success, were those of their church partners, supporters, and coaches.
But moving into Seattle quickly brought a couple of truths to light. Seattleites do not easily fall into relationships with each other. The Kings were moving from Nashville, a highly Christian city where people are open to each other to a place where people are closed and suspicious. The metro area of nearly 4 million people may represent half the state’s population, but many people in Seattle feel completely alone.
To combat their own alone-ness, the Kings purposefully sought out partnerships. An early and important relationship was formed with Epic Life Church, a church with a similar vision that was a few years further along. Epic Life gave the Kings a place to belong while they put down roots and built community. Jared credits this relationship to God, who put Epic Life in their path when they didn’t even know that was what they were needing.
Beyond that, Jared purposefully forced himself into other relationships—with neighbors, with people at the gym, with anyone who might be called into service for Seattle’s lost people. The Sojourn team, a campus ministry group that moved to Seattle to work on the UW campus, brought a much-needed energy and excitement to the groundwork of Missio.
As Jared says about partnerships, “We realized early on that as Church Planters, we had to fight for relationships so that people could fall into relationships where we fought for them. That is how you find partnerships. You fight for them.”
I was praying over you this morning, asking God to open up your church for new people whom God will bring to bless you.
I regularly keep my eye open for ideas and resources to help you. One of the resources I’ve been paying attention to lately are the videos from Pro Church Daily. These guys are worth listening to. They’re classic millennials. Working with churches is what they do. They keep things short, direct, and innovative.
This morning I watched their video “How to Reach People When You’re a Church of 50 or Less.” Here’s Brady’s phrase that caught my attention:
“If you want to get somewhere you’ve never been, you need to be willing to do things you’ve never done.”
Here are three statements we talk about within Kairos that help us take those steps that move us forward to growth:
Brady’s challenge is to make this year a year to try things out.
If you want to do it, but don't think you can go it alone, we're putting together a Spring Surge group to help each other through. Click here to download a Spring Surge Preview Calendar to see if it's something you're interested in.
Let’s do it!
Establishing Gospel DNA Throughout the Body
God’s mission is to restore all things to himself in and through the work and person of Jesus Christ. He chooses to accomplish that mission through the church. As God restores us to himself, he is also restoring us to be who he intends us to be. This restoring work does not happen in isolation, but rather in and through our relationships. We do not do it alone. We need each other. One way to purposefully cultivate these relationships is through DNA groups.
What is a DNA Group?
A DNA (DNA stand for Discipleship, Nurturing, and Accountability) Group is made up of three people—men with men, women with women—who meet together weekly to be known and to bring the gospel to bear on each other’s lives so that they grow in and live out the values of mission of Christ. Groups are not about seeking the approval of people; God’s approval—the only approval that matters—is already ours because of Jesus’ perfect life, death and resurrection.
Once formed, a DNA group focuses on the following:
PATHWAYS INTO A DNA GROUP
Jared and Laura, in listening for God's call in their life, were pulled toward London, England. They passed Discovery Lab with scores that indicated a high likelihood they could successfully plant a church once they had more experience under their belts.
Kairos helped them secure an apprenticeship with Ethos Church in Nashville, where they could learn how healthy growing church systems function. During that season, the call shifted from London to the Northwest, the heart of post-Christian culture in the US.
When a planter moves to a new city to start a church, we call it parachuting in. It takes time to settle into a new place, build relationships, learn the culture, and allow the dream and plan for the church to form within the new context.
Jared says, " We were going from Sunday-centric Christianity to Sundays being secondary at best. We were going from thousands of Christian relationships to almost none."
The Kings knew there would be challenges in making such a big move, but Seattle was looming large in the future and they needed a plan.
They attended their first Kairos Strategy Lab before moving to Seattle. And their plans looked great on paper. They were able to dream big, to think through the theories of what they hoped to accomplish, to give shape to their dream and make it a plan. Sure, it was all theory, but it was solid theory.
With all their tools in place and a team enthusiastic about moving with them, they moved their family north.
But there comes a place in every story when boots hit the pavement, when expectations crash up against reality, when a person's strength and faith are put to the test.
To be continued . . .
A Church Planting Story
Once upon a time, a man decided to plant a new church in a new city. All his plans went better than expected and in no time a booming church had grown up with no problems and little effort.
Recently a group from our church attended the Discipleship.org conference. We engaged with about 1,400 other “Discipleship First” folks to be encouraged by brothers and sisters from around the world and to hear the ways they grow disciples who make disciples.
Here are 5 key points that I walked away with from the conference:
2. The Word of God is powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword (Hebrew 4:12). Make engagement with the Bible a central feature of your discipling process. What scriptures will you memorize together and why? What biblical readings will focus your attention?
3. The discipling leader sets the stage. As a discipler, you are inviting others to learn from your life. You determine the time, place, and the content. If they’re not willing to work with your schedule, they may not yet be ready to engage that level of discipling.
4. Discipling is best done in groups of 3 to 5 people of the same gender. The focus is on obeying scripture and reflecting on the interaction between scripture and doing. Being small in number and gender specific allows a greater flow of interaction, confession and accountability.
5. Any plan is more effective than no plan. There were 18 tracks at the 2018 Discipleship Conference, each led by a group with disciple making as their goal. Here are 3 of the plans presented:
A friend of mine introduced me to the acronym BHAG: By the Hand of Almighty God. In their book, Built to Last (1994), James Collins and Jerry Porras defined a BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal) as “a long-term goal that changes the very nature of a business’ existence.” These are the type of goals that change history, like when John F. Kennedy said, “that this Nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.”
Like a vision drives a country, I believe a BHAG is what ultimately drives a church.
BHAGs are meant to shift “business as normal.” BHAGs are nearly impossible to achieve without consistently working outside of our comfort zone. They require a commitment and confidence that moves us to persistent effort, over decades, even when the odds seem impossibly stacked against us.
The only way a church, or any organization, can pursue a BHAG dream is with a long-term plan that ties together mission, vision, and decisions into action. Without such organized, systematic planning no BHAG will survive.
Since 2009 Kairos has been helping churches think strategically about their future through a strategic planning process called StratOp. StratOp employs a series of insightful tools to help churches gain perspective on their own reality, strengths and weaknesses, and ultimately to immediate and long-term decisions that will move them towards progress on their BHAGs.
It is the persistent application of effort towards a plan that ultimately drives us towards the BHAGs God has set before us. No, we’re not doing this by our own strength or will. God is in charge. But He still asks us to do the hard work that needs to be done as He energizes the results.
If you are interested in the StratOp process, contact me at email@example.com.
4 Traits of Spiritual Mentors
Being a spiritual mentor does not equal being a religious leader. Mentors are not necessarily managing the direction of the church itself. The reality is they are leaders, but maybe look different from what you expect. It’s important to know the traits of spiritual mentors, these individuals are valuable in the development of the disciples within your congregation.
Here's a more accurate picture of what a spiritual mentor looks like:
Trait # 1 - Suggestive Guidance
Many times spiritual mentors live a life that is unique to others, and may not follow the rules that society places on them. Overall these type of leaders do not operate under the assumption that others should do life in the same way, rather they live life based on principles and understandings that may be countercultural. The value of these mentors is that they have discovered unique practices that have allowed them to understand and relate to God in ways that may differ from the status quo.
Trait # 2 - The “High Road” Less Traveled
This trait of a successful spiritual mentor is that they choose to live a life based on positive thinking. The empowerment they get from understanding who God is allows them to understand a level of joy that is based on the fruits of the spirit. Rather than living a life of happiness based on objective worldly treasures, they like to surround themselves in an atmosphere that is positive rather than negative.
Trait #3 - Lifting Others Up
Spiritual mentors live to lift others up constantly. They find ways to take individuals who are struggling in life and allow them to become successful based on goals, skills, and talents. Spiritual mentors find fulfillment in witnessing others become successful, and celebrating their accomplishments.
Trait #4 - Serving Others First
Spiritual mentors live out the passage in Mark 10:45, where Jesus says "for even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many." They live a life that is based on servant leadership, looking for opportunities to take care of the needs of others.
Spiritual mentoring comes down to specific characteristics that will lead to positive spiritual development for those they are mentoring. These characteristics come from years of life experience, and that means these folks may not be CEOs, presidents of their companies, commanding officers in the military. These individuals may come from very humble upbringings, living a life of low income status, and/or practicing simplicity in their life. Being able to identify these diamonds in the rough can be difficult, but understanding these virtuous traits will bear fruit if you are able to discover them!
Who are the people in your church who are already spiritual mentors? Who are those you can develop to become one?
Does your church have a podium or a stage?
That may seem like a strange question, but it is important if your church is going to attract and hold 21st century people. One of the major concepts that drive 21st churches is that worship is an experience—not a service. Services are by nature stable events that follow a standard, non-changing script. Experiences, on the other hand, are intended to be adaptive, creative and designed to communicate a story.
If the front of your church generally stays the same (yes, flowers may change or decorations may be added for specific seasons) you have a podium, literally, a place to stand. If the front of your church changes with the themes of the preaching; if it is designed to visually communicate in and of itself—you have a stage.
If your church has a podium I encourage you to make the shift in thinking from podium to stage. If you’re a church planter who already thinks in terms of stage, many times your challenge is you meet in rented space. You can’t set up a stage and leave it for six or eight weeks at a time. You have to create a portable stage.
There are some very good free resources to help you think creatively about designing a stage to help create your worship experience. Here are 3 YouTube videos with some great ideas to get you started on turning your podium into a stage.
Inexpensive Church Stage Design
3 Small Church Stage Design Ideas
Stage Design Ideas: LED Par Cans