Sunday, July 22, 2007

Gathering Your First 50 People

It has been said that the most difficult thing in church planting is gathering your first 50 people. Of course, the second most difficult thing is gathering your second 50 people. It is also vitally important WHO those first 100 people are because they will shape the culture of your new church. Keep that in mind!

The question is, "How do you gather new people?" This requires a lot of intentionality for most planters. A few have a unique gift for drawing people to themself, but most of us have to work at it. We have to think through who we're trying to reach and start attracting people like this. Usually like attracts like, so if you can start gathering the people you are attempting to reach you will be more likely to be successful in reaching your mission focus group. (I have a firm grasp of the obvious!)

Recruiting a group from an existing church can be helpful (given that the existing church is OK with you recruiting people from them). However, be very careful. This is often times counter-productive because the people from the existing church are usually not missional, not evangelistic, and are typcially looking for a new church that is more convienent or more suitable for themselves. You must only recruit MISSIONARIES from existing churches. If you recruit "consumers" they will usually suck the life out of you, and eventually leave because you're not "meeting their needs."

I don't mean to sound harsh or critical, it's just that church planting is hard and requires a lot of sacrifice from a core of believers. Western Christians are not accustomed to a sacrificial lifestyle (which in itself is sad.) While every church planter needs a few "missionary" believers to help them, I encourage planters to look to the harvest to build your initial critical mass. Seek to build relationships with non-churched, non-believers whom you can encourage and disciple, and hopefully assimilate into your new church plant. I hope to talk more in the days ahead about some specifics regarding how to do this. Just remember for now that the first 100 people will shape the culture of your new church. Make it a missional, new life culture! If you already have your first 50 people, ask yourself what kind of culture they are creating!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Why Pray?

For those of you who have heard me train church planters you know how my church planting experience was a dramatic turning point in my personal prayer life. Since that time I have sought to always stretch myself and deepen myself in the area of prayer. Right now I am reading Philip Yancey's book "Prayer." I want to share with you a quote from it that has really spoken to me recently.

"Why pray? I have asked this question almost every day of my Christian life, especially when God's presence seems far away and I wonder if prayer is a pious form of talking to myself. I have asked it when I read theology, wondering what use there may be in repeating what God must surely know.

"...prayer has become for me much more than a shopping list of requests to present to God. It has become a realignment of everything. I pray to restore the truth of the universe, to gain a glimpse of the world, and of me, through the eyes of God.

"In prayer I shift my point of view away from my own selfishness. I climb above timberline and look down at the speck that is myself. I gaze at the stars and recall what role I or any of us play in a universe beyond comprehension. Prayer is the act of seeing reality from God's point of view. (Yancey, p.29)

I conclude with this thought. Prayer is not so much about accomplishing something through our ministry, but more about God accomplishing something inside me!