Monthly Archives: November 2010

You’ve Come So Far!

On Sunday morning I looked at all the faces of the people at Generation Church and the thought came to me, ‘haven’t we come such a long way’.

I wasn’t thinking numerically or financially. I wasn’t thinking about the space we were meeting in compared to a living room only five months ago. Yes we had grown in all those areas, but it was the life paths so many of the people have been on.

I started to think of those who would not have been in church that day unless Generation Church had started. I thought of the marriages that would have broken up if not for the love and support the people of Gen Church had given them. I thought of those who only a few months ago were so closed off to Jesus, now worshiping God in their own unique way.

Then I started to think of how far I had come. From sitting in my church office only two years ago thinking life was great because our church was growing, but having not had a meaningful conversation with someone outside of ‘the faith’ in over five years. To now, not having an office, not having a church salary, not organizing event after event to keep all the church people happy; yet week after week having conversation after conversation with people who do not know God. Reaching out to people I was told I’d never reach. Seeing Christ transform life after life in His image, not ours!

I haven’t got there yet, wherever there is. There is still long way to go. However, as I look back I can’t help but think how far I have come, how far the many of us have come.

Yes there were times when I didn’t even think I’d make another step, times of wanting to give up. Times when the opposition of others almost killed my spirit and faith; but God held strong! He carried me and I’ve watched Him carry so many others and now I can only look back and think, wow, I can’t believe we have come this far!

You may be going through some stuff today. However, just look back and take in for a moment how far you have come! It’s probably way further than you could ever imagine! Then look forward and keep on going!

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Understanding Church Planting in the North East – Part 4

Today is the final part of a mini series, Understanding Church Planting in the North East. This has not been an exhausted list of things we need to know, just three obstacles I, as a church planting discovered which has been unique to an area like the north east in which we have had to think outside the box and do church a little different to how we would have imagined.

3. Doing Life Together is easier said than done!

As soon as we moved to Maryland as first associate pastors we realized that life here is a little different to most other places. People are always busy, but these folks out here are crazy busy! In fact in the first six months of living here I found myself living such a busy life I felt it was almost spiraling out of control.

I honestly do not think people know how to slow down. I’m not talking about working hard, everyone works hard all over the world, I’m talking about cluttering their lives with extra curricular activities. Actually, I’d go so far to say many people in the north east have never heard of the word margin!

When it comes to the church this has a massive effect. Let’s be honest, for the majority of people going to their kids 3 baseball games a week is more important than going to a small group. Or going to church for one hour on a Sunday morning is the preferred choice than volunteering for one service, attending another and helping set up or tear down. It’s part of the beast and to be honest, after living in the north east for coming on four years, I can hardly blame them, life is so hectic.

Planting a church is all about mobilizing people, engaging people, connecting people and also gathering lots of people who will donate a lot of time! That’s hard enough anywhere, but combine it in a culture where everyone seems to be fighting to gain more free time, it’s going to be difficult to gather those people.

However, there are two ways to look at this, in a negative sense, or as an opportunity! I firmly believe this is a great opportunity. Too often church leaders, and also church planters rely so heavily on a model, yet this is an opportunity to break the model and discover new ways to engage and connect people. New ways to teach people about margin and clutter in our lives and new ways to discover how we can do church on a weekly basis.

The problem is we have to think outside our box and most church planters while proclaiming to be innovative and creative really do have a small box. Our way of measuring success and failure is very narrow. However, when we step outside the box our old ways of measuring are no longer useful.

Church planting in the north east is tough, but it is also unique and I know we serve a God who thrives on the unique! I have a huge passion to see life giving churches birthed throughout this region, but to do that we need to break the mold, create an oasis in the desert and cultivate our relationships with people far from God instead of thinking a simple invite (which we still must do) will be the answer to all their problems.

These are great times to be planting a church and I am overwhelmed that God would choose me to be part on one and an awesome one at that!


Understanding Church Planting in the North East – Part 3

 

Continuing this weeks blog on church planting within the north east united states, here is the 2nd obstacle to with tough but fruitful calling.

2. People will go to church if invited! Not!

I’ve heard so many people coming up with crazy stats that vary between 60-85% of people will go to church this Sunday if they are invited.

I honestly believe across the board this to be true. I lived in Missouri for over 2 years and it seemed everyone who was invited actually went to church and then stayed at the church, got involved in the church and their lives were changed.

Living in the North East makes me a little skeptical about these stats though. Try telling this stat to someone living in France or Spain, or for that matter try telling that stat to people living in Turkey or Indonesia? It’s not a true statistic everywhere you go.

We have discovered that just because you open a new church it doesn’t mean people want to go; this is especially true in the north east. Actually either people dislike you because you’ve opened ‘another church’, or they give you a pat on the back and say I hope it goes well. When invited people say sure I’ll have to come sometime. Try to schedule a Sunday where you can bring them to church and the long list of excuses come out!

I honestly believe the reason for this is that the north east is a post christian (notice the small c) society. These people grew up in church, they went to mass, they were baptized as a baby, they went through their first communion, and they were involved in Sunday school and youth group. They’ve all be confirmed (confirmed to what I don’t know) and they have given the christian (small c again) thing a shot.

A post christian society doesn’t mean a post Christ society. I do believe these people are searching, longing for something more than their heavy schedules, long commutes, colonial houses and their big cities. In fact I believe the north east is at place where people are searching so hard for something more, but the problem is that they have stopped searching within the church. So a new church in the north east to many is like a new McDonalds, nice looking building, same old unhealthy stuff inside!

This is why plainly inviting people to church is not the answer to bringing people back to Christ. Once more, they may come, but their lives are so hectic that they are not thinking about coming next week, they are thinking about the trip to New York, or the dinner party they are hosting.

I believe this is an incredible opportunity for the church, especially new churches to think outside of the box, get back to grassroots Christianity (capital C) and find innovative ways to introduce people to Jesus Christ. Maybe a church won’t attract, but I know where there is the church shinning the life of Christ in its authentic light people cannot help but realize their search is over.

This isn’t a five years to become a mega church plan, this is a life long commitment to not just changing lives, but changing the landscape of communities which have hardened their hearts toward anything church related.