All in Church Planting

At Redemption we are meticulous about keeping track of our numbers. This is NOT because we find our identity in, nor measure our worth by the numbers, but because behind every number is a name.  Every number is a life that has been influenced and impacted by Jesus.

Last week we had a members meeting and Ashely Herr, one of our elders, put together a presentation that served as a celebration of God's grace in and through our church, as well as an incredible blessing to our church family.

Here are some of the things we celebrated in a few areas of focus at Redemption:

 

Connection Essential #3 - A Mechanic

It does not matter how nice of a vehicle you drive, at some point it requires a mechanic to keep it running. The same is true of your connection vehicle. No matter how clear the next steps and how fine tuned the system, someone has to keep it running.

Connection Question | Who is going to keep the connection vehicle running?

 

Connection Essential #1 - A Destination

No one ever sets out on a journey without first determining their desired destination. Therefore, the planning of every trip starts with a basic question: “Where do we want to go?”  A similar question is necessary in the planning of an effective connection strategy for your church:

 Connection Question | What exactly does “connected” look like at my church?

 

There is no shortage of reasons people leave one church to attend another.

  • “My last church wasn’t Biblically faithful.”
  • “My last church didn’t offer the programs I wanted for my kids.”
  • “My last church had unqualified people in leadership.”
  • “My last church had cutting edge worship strait out of the 1500s.”
  • “My last church was amazing, but my job moved me away.”

Obviously, some of the reasons a person leaves one church to attend another are good while others are selfish, consumer-driven, and disobedient. Sometimes people leave churches because of their own sin and often times people leave because of the unrepentant sin dwelling within the leadership of the church itself.

 

This past Sunday at Redemption was one of the most stressful and most amazing experiences I've had in 12 years of being involved in church planting to various degrees. When we arrived at 7:30am to begin set-up, we noticed another event also being set-up on the football field of the high school we gather for worship at. One hour later the entire parking lot was full...not just crowded full...like not a single spot available full!

The school had booked this event without informing us and just over an hour before our people were to begin arriving there was literally nowhere for them to park.

 

"I can't do this anymore..."

"What's the point of this..."

"I think it would be easier to just give up..."

These are the types of thoughts that mark seasons of weariness in our lives. Weariness is the state of physical, emotional, and spiritual depletion. It's a fatigue that extends to every facet of life and remains a reality  all Christians face. The prophet Isaiah meant to make this clear when he pictured the strongest, healthiest, highest capacity person he could and said even they grow weary.

The truth is, apart from God, creation is hard-wired for weariness.

 

I can't tell you how many Christians have come to Redemption after leaving previous churches because they "just didn't get anything out of the Sunday service." Sometimes this is because they have come from a church that has abandoned the preaching of God's Word, but many times these are people that have come from great churches where the preaching is not the problem. I would argue that a big part of the problem is not our churches, not our preaching, and not the style of music used for worship. I would argue that a big part of the problem is

Do you have a vision for something in your life?  You should. In fact you should have a vision for a number of things -  your spiritual life, your marriage and family, your vocation, and your particular area of ministry gifting. My guess is you do have a vision for a all these things, meaning you have some grasp of where things are currently and a hope for where they will be in the future. You see what is and have a picture of what could be.

So, I'm assuming you have some vision for these things, but here's my real question:

 

I've always been oddly interested in the process various pastors use in preparing to preach. Not just the textual work and crafting of the sermon, but specifically their day of preparation. Personally, I've seen over and over how the quality of my preparation directly impacts the quality of my proclamation. My Sunday morning schedule has changed with our facilities, service times, and other factors, but here's my current Sunday morning process for preparing to preach.

 

I recently met with a young seminary student hoping to plant a church and he asked me what I thought the biggest challenges in church planting had been.  I rattled off a few things that came to mind, but after giving it more thought I landed on the five most difficult challenges I've faced over these past three years.

Redemption Bible Church is designed around a straitforward and strategic process meant to move people into what we believe are the essential rhythms of discipleship - Worship. Community. Mission.  For us, this means we have one program assigned to each of these rhythms - Worship Gatherings. Community Groups. Missional Teams. No men's ministry. No women's ministry. No Awana. No singles ministry. No grown men who read comic books living at home into their 40's working at that creepy store in the mall that sells Dungeon and Dragons figurines ministry, either...just in case you were wondering.

While there is no shortage of things, even good things, churches CAN do, there is only a small number of things churches MUST do. We've opted to only do the things we must do. Here are five reasons why.

 

Being a pastor involves a vast number of meetings. Pastoral counseling, church discipline, membership interviews, and meetings with other area pastors all consume a tremendous portion of a pastor's time. In addition to all the meetings already mentioned, the pastoral teams of each local church meet together on a regular basis. Growing up in the Church, I know that not all these meetings are created equal.

Only God can cause growth and I believe God is sovereign over both the means (particular strategies) and the end (growth). I don't believe that any strategy is a magic formula for numeric growth, and if that's what you're looking for you should revisit your motives and reconsider your readiness to plant a church. We plant the gospel, not a strategy. A strategy is merely the means by which we plant the gospel in our various neighborhoods, communities, and cities.

As we labor to this end, I believe these three essentials are necessary for all church plants regardless of context (hence the term, essential). The way you work them out and what they look like may be dictated by your context, but the necessity of them remains. Here are the three essential means God has used to grow Redemption these past 3 years:

 

It had been a frustrating few months. I'd started a new position as a worship pastor at an existing church and thus inherited a group of 15 musicians with little talent and lots of attitude (a wonderful combination - is my sarcasm coming through clearly enough?).

One guy in particular was especially difficult. It was discouraging to lead him and he was demanding in his desire to have things “his way.” After one of many phone calls spent trying to get him heading in a healthy direction, I was particularly frustrated and brought this frustration to God in prayer. It went something like this...

 

At Redemption we work hard to evaluate everything we do. The underlying conviction behind this is the belief that everything can always be better. We can always lead more effectively, execute more efficiently, and create with more quality.

We've created a simple strategy that we filter every aspect of every ministry through and we call it D3 Leadership. Here's how it works.

 

I love preaching, and I desperately want to grow in my own preaching. By God's grace we live at a point in history when some of the greatest Bible teaching is available through the mere click of a mouse. What I love most about this is the tremendous amount of diversity that exists. No two preachers are exactly alike, and no one preacher is entirely perfect. Over the last few years I've listened to specific preachers in an attempt to continually develop specific skills in my own preaching. Here are the seven preachers I have listened to most frequently and the skills I believe they demonstrate over and over again.