All in Church Planting
The battlefield of church planting is littered with burned out bodies. Long hours, immense stress, and constant pressure have caused more than one well-intentioned church planter to wave the white flag.
Even if they don’t quit, church planters struggle to manage the war within.
Church planting is difficult work. It takes an tremendous amount of spiritual, physical, emotional, and relational energy to build something from nothing. These first five years of getting Redemption up and off the ground have been some of the most personally taxing of my life. The difficultly is often a direct result of the spiritual war being waged, in which we stand on the front lines.
Yet, much of the pain planters experience is self-inflicted and unnecessary. Church planting demands a unique wiring - you have to be one part called and one part crazy. I wish I could say that it was only the clear call of God that drove me and others like me, but I’d be lying. Often times there are drivers just below the surface impacting church planters.
Pastoral ministry can be lonely work for a number of reasons.
Some pastors don’t know how to have meaningful relationships. Others live under the crushing weight of a misplaced Messiah complex that keeps them from connecting with others. Often times church planters, or pastors in new churches are simply isolated and don’t truly know anyone.
Pastors preach the importance of community, but often fail to participate in it. The reality is, every pastor, just like ever other person, needs the right people in their life, in order to pursue health and endure for the long haul. While every pastor would benefit from a deep well of diverse relationships, here are three I believe to be critical…
Another Easter has come and gone. If you work in ministry like I do, then you’re likely still feeling the effects of last weekend. At Redemption, we invested 120 hours of prayer, sent out 600 hand-written invites, held a church-wide prayer meeting, shot daily video devotionals, remembered Good Friday and celebrated Easter Sunday with record attendance.
As a result, I’m tired, our staff is tired, and our teams are tired. Our hearts are full, but our tanks are empty.
You may not be in ministry full time, but we all have certain days or seasons in which we have to invest far more energy than normal. Maybe you’re planning a wedding, a party, a graduation, or other event. There is often an immense letdown after whatever it is that you’ve invested so much in.
How we steward these seasons is critical. If you ignore the fatigue, try to push through, or run on fumes, you will do great damage to your body, mind, emotions and soul. You have to replenish. Here are six ways to refill your tank after Easter (or any other big day)…
God’s primary proving ground for a pastor is not his work in the pulpit, but his home. This means that a man qualifies and disqualifies himself in the home before he ever does in the church. No amount of ministry fruitfulness will justify our failure to love and lead the families God has given us.
Yes, pastoral ministry comes with a unique brand of difficulty. The hours are long, the work is hard, and the results are often unseen. But, we cannot let this serve as an excuse for being lousy dads. We can do better. We have a heavenly Father who willingly sacrificed His own Son, so that through faith, we could be saved and faithfully father our own sons and daughters. By God’s grace and through the Spirit’s strength, here are seven ways for good pastors to be great dads…
Every preacher knows the discouragement of looking out on an obviously disengaged audience - glassy stares, confused looks, slowly closing eyes just moments from a nap - it's awful. While some of the responsibility lands in the laps of our listeners, most of the responsibility is ours as preachers.
Our job is to "rightly handle the word of truth" (2 Tim.2:15). That's the command the apostle Paul gave young Timothy - a green, insecure, uncertain pastor in a jacked up situation.
I am part of a tribe that takes this task seriously. We preach the Word week in and week out. We don't play games with God's Word. But, if we're not careful we can make the mistake of believing that faithful preaching means nothing more than mere accuracy. I believe Paul's encouragement to Timothy begs more than accuracy alone.
Here are seven reasons people might hate our preaching (even if it's Biblically accurate)…
“How do I confirm if God’s calling me into full-time vocational ministry?”
is a question I’m being asked more and more. Young people, old people,
rich people, poor people, successful and established people - I’m
encountering a growing number of people considering a call to full-time
vocational ministry - vocational, meaning “paid".
Every Christian is called to “full-time” ministry. There is never a season, time, or circumstance in which a follower of Christ is not to minister the good news of Jesus to those around them. Baristas and bartenders, students and stay-at-home moms, business people and bankers, those in construction and childcare, medical providers and machinists - all of us are to always minister to those God providentially places in our lives.
Because every Christian is called to full-time ministry, I always want to know why it is an individual feels called to ministry vocationally. You may think, “Who cares? They want to serve Jesus, so what does it matter why they want to?” Well, it matters a lot. The truth is, there are a great many BAD reasons to pursue vocational ministry - Here are the five most common I hear
Imagine you walked into church one Sunday and everywhere you looked were zombies. Not real zombies, of course. Because of course, there aren’t real zombies, or are there? Anyways...
Imagine you walked into a worship service one Sunday and everywhere you looked were zombies.
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “The work of preaching is the highest and the greatest and the most glorious calling to which anyone can ever be called.” I’m so thankful to be a preacher. It’s my favorite part of being a pastor. While I love the act of preaching, I often find the art of prepping sermons tedious. I love to study and preach what the Lord gives me. It’s the blood, sweat, and tears in between that makes me long for the time when I was a vocational coffee maker.
When God's Word goes forth is does exactly what God wants it to. There is never a time when the Bible is proclaimed to no end. The Scriptures succeed exactly as the Spirit would have them.
Because we believe these promises about God's Word, we seek every opportunity to share it. One of the ways we do this is by reading Scripture in our services, out loud, over our church.
In many churches, the most thankless job is that of the pastor's wife. Though the pastor alone is paid, the pastor's wife is often still saddled with a host of responsibilities and expectations. She is expected to be a model wife, nurturing mother, friend to everyone, run a women's ministry, throw every baby shower, and cook every meal. These expectations are often unfair, unhelpful, and most importantly, unbiblical. "Pastor's Wife" is not a secret third office of church leadership. The Bible contains no job description for the pastor's wife, which is why extra-biblical expectations are often placed upon her.
Pastoring in general and church planting in particular can be a roller-coaster ride of emotions. When we planted Redemption, I didn’t thoroughly think through the emotional nature of what I was doing. In building relationships with a growing number of church planters, I've learned that this reality isn't isolated to me. As I reflect on my own journey in church planting and on the conversations I've had with other planters, there seem to be three emotions common to church planting.
Preachers face a lot of pressure these days. We live in a day and age marked by easy access to an amazing caliber of preaching. This means the bar is set extraordinarily high for the average preacher. It's intimidating to know that your audience podcasts pastors like Mark Driscoll, Andy Stanley, James MacDonald, Steven Furtick, Matt Chandler, and John Piper throughout the week and then shows up to hear you on Sunday.
Pastors should be working hard to preach the best sermons possible, but the best sermon is only as good as the audience listening. Preaching is a two-way street. The preacher is responsible for preaching well, and the audience is responsible for listening well.
Listening is a lost art in our culture, so how should we listen to a sermon?
Leaders have a God-given desire to grow. Within the heart of every leader lies a perpetual dissatisfaction for what is, and a desire for what could and should be. This includes the leader's own leadership ability. Every good leader I know desires to be a better leader than they currently are.
Here are four ways to grow your leadership:
In early 2006, I was working as a Worship Pastor at a church about 40 minutes from where we planted Redemption.
One Tuesday night, as I sat in one of the many meetings that pastors attend each week, I heard God speak to me more clearly than ever before. Before you panic, I'm not someone who "hears God speak" every day. This was an experience I had never had before and one I haven't had since. God said three things:
Recently I met up with Dave Heiniger, our new deacon over Student Ministry, to talk vision for this new area in our church. As we talked, he highlighted three things students need from their volunteer leaders. I plugged them into Evernote because I immediately realized that these are three things every person, not just every student, needs to feel from their pastors.
Sermon prep is difficult work. It’s long, arduous, and tedious. Because of the difficulty inherent to prepping a gospel-centered, culturally-intelligible, Biblically-saturated sermon, many opt for other types of “sermons.” Some preach creativity.
Some preach comedy.
Some preach social observations.
Some preach practical pep-talks.
It’s simply easier to “preach” these other things than it is to open God’s Word each week, find a fresh sermon for God’s people, and put spiritual food on the table.
We started Redemption Bible Church believing that Biblical leadership would be crucial to planting and pastoring a healthy church. We believed both then and now that the health of our church would directly relate to the health of our elders. If you do not know, elders are the senior leaders of the church also called pastors, bishops, and overseers in the New Testament (Eph 4:11; 1 Pet 5:2; Acts 20:28). The elders are men chosen for their ministry according to the clear biblical qualifications of 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. In addition to these Biblical qualifications, there are three specific traits we look for in potential elders: