Thursday, December 31, 2009

10 Types of Emerging Church

Very interesting summary of the different types of churches being planted today. Thanks Andrew for sharing your observations and experience.

10 Types of Emerging Church That Will No Longer Upset Your Grandfather by Andrew Jones.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Join Me at The Verge Conference

I hope you will join me at the Verge Conference in Austin, TX on February 4-6. If you have a heart and passion for starting missional communities, this is a "must attend" event! Presenters will include:

Francis Chan
Alan Hirsch
Hugh Halter
Dave Ferguson
George Patterson
Matt Carter
Dave Gibbons
Neil Cole
David Garrison... and more!

For more information click here! See you there!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

First, Organize 1,000

Seth Godin is a business blogger but offers many interesting insights for pastors and especially church planters. Check out this blog post on "First, Organize 1,000."

Also, read his book Tribes. A great book on gathering a following!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Stop Trying to Reach Most People

This is a "must-read" from Will Mancini.

Stop Trying to Reach Most People

Great post Will!

More Observations About Millennials

The Pew Research Center is helping us understand more about the millennial generation. These are mostly twenty-something adults. Our church is focused on reaching the 30 year old male so this is vitally important information for us. Maybe you will find it helpful too.

Here are 3 more big things you need to know about the Millennials:
  • They are the most ethnically and racially diverse cohort of adults in the nation's history: 18.5% are Hispanic; 14.2% are African American; 4.3% are Asian; 3.2% are mixed race or other; and 59.8% (a record low) are white.
  • They are the first generation in human history who regard behaviors like tweeting and texting, along with websites like Facebook, YouTube, Google and Wikipedia, not as astonishing innovations of the digital era, but as everyday parts of their social lives and their search for understanding.
  • They are the least religiously observant young adults since survey research began charting religious behavior.

Unfortunately, most churches in the U.S. are declining in attendance. This typically results when our churches are unable to reach the emerging generations and/or the changing communities around them. We must know and understand this new generation, and we must adapt our methods to be increasingly culturally relevant while always remaining Biblically faithful.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Do You Know the Millennials?

Pew Research has recently released some interesting data about Millennials. Just so you will know, Baby Boomers are now ages 46-64, GenX'ers are now ages 31-45, and Millennials start with teens and go up to 30 years of age.

One interesting fact about these Millennials is that they are more inclined toward trust in institutions than were either of their two predecessor generations (Boomers & X'ers) when they were coming of age. What are the implications of this for the church?

Another important observation is that they are starting out as the most politically progressive age group in modern history. In the 2008 election, Millennials voted for Barack Obama over John McCain by 66%-32%, while adults ages 30 and over split their votes 50%-49%. In the four decades since the development of Election Day exit polling, this is the largest gap ever seen in a presidential election between the votes of those under and over age 30.

From a generational standpoint in the U.S., twenty-somethings are the most unreached segment by the church. We need to know these young adults and discover ways to reach them with the gospel.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Do You Have Enough...

Do you ever feel like you don't have enough time? Enough people? Enough money? Enough opportunities, etc.?

Silly question, right? This is the daily mantra for most church planters. Take a look at this blog post, I Don't Have Enough.... I think you'll find it very encouraging!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Celebrate Small Wins

Having worked in business and church I can say with conviction that in the church we generally do not know how to measure success.

It’s easy in business, you must make a profit or you will not stay in business. You can celebrate small wins because you know they are the things that move you toward making a profit. However, in ministry “profit” is not the goal. In fact, many churches continue to generate income through tithes and offerings while never accomplishing much toward their mission. This is partly due to the fact that we are not clear on our mission!

In his excellent book 7 Practices of Effective Ministry, Andy Stanley states “It is possible for a church to become very efficient at doing ministry ineffectively.” This is because we do not have a clear picture of the end. We must work with the end in mind, or as Andy says it, we must clarify the win!

Yogi Berra once said “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” That characterizes many (if not most) churches in North America. When we don’t know where we’re going, we never know what or when to celebrate! We don’t know what the “small wins” are if and when they come. Without celebration, people lose vision, hope, and motivation.

In a church plant, we must have a plan of action! That plan must move us toward a clear vision and it must identify small wins along the way. These should be the focus of our intercessors (please tell me you have an intercession team), and they should be markers for celebration. I encourage planters to maintain a 90 Day Plan and to update it monthly. At least monthly you and your team should celebrate the small wins!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

I Was Wrong About Church Buildings

Just read an excellent article by Dan Kimball entitled "I Was Wrong About Church Buildings." Every church planting leader needs to read this. Dan says:

If you had asked me eight years ago what I thought about church buildings, I would have said, "Who needs a building? The early church didn't have buildings, and we don't need them either!" But I was wrong... Read the article here.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Essentials for Starting a Missional Church - December 11th

Our NEW seminar "The Essentials for Starting a Missional Church - 2010" is less than 2 weeks away. This will be a one-day intensive training for church planters, prospective church planters, and church planting teams. The date is Friday, December 11th! The location is Crossbridge Church, 1049 Eldridge Rd, Sugar Land, TX.

This seminar is built on over 20 years of church planting research and experience. In this power-packed day you will learn about the most critical issues that every church planting leader should be thinking about TODAY as they start a new church.

For more information and to register click here and go to our New Church Initiatives Website. Our call our office at 281-635-3086.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Coaching: A Discovery Process

Coaching focuses on promoting discovery. A good coach will not tell you what to do, but instead will ask you the right questions to help you discover what you need to do. As Christians we have the added benefit of the Holy Spirit indwelling us to guide us into truth. A skilled coach will help you find untapped potential within yourself. A good coach thinks about you and your needs. He focuses entirely on you.

Jane Creswell, author of Christ-Centered Coaching, says "The best image for coaching is a vehicle. The word coach derives from an old British word meaning 'horse-drawn carriage.'" She encourages us to think of the coaching process as a journey, "one in which you are caught up in the process as you move toward a specific, targeted destination." The goal of the coach is to help you find direction and enjoy the ride, while maximizing all the resources at your disposal. The skilled coach helps you be the best you can be.

I said it before, every church planter needs a coach. In fact, I believe that every pastor needs a coach. Do you have one? What do you think? Let me know.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Throw Out Your Assumptions

For those of you who know me you know that I am big on planning. Part of this is my gifting and part of this is my OCD. My favorite TV show line comes from the old show "The A Team." Every episode the leader of the team ends the show by saying "I love it when a plan comes together." (You have to see the show to get it.)

I am very insistent that the church planters I coach create a project plan for their new church, even if it is a simple church. I love all the passages in Proverbs that affirm planning! I think they were placed in scripture just for church planters.

However, I am very aware while we prayerfully make our plans, the Lord directs our steps. I am aware that church planting is not a work of human effort, but a work of the Spirit.

With that said, I always encourage church planting leaders to re-evaluate their plan every 30 days. Is it still realistic? Does it seem to be in step with how the Spirit is moving? What progress are you making toward your milestones? What new things are you discovering?

One colleague told me that in a startup, you have to throw out all your assumptions every 3 weeks, while at the same time staying focused and moving forward.

This doesn't mean that your entire plan changes every 3-4 weeks, but it does mean that this venture is a journey into the unknown, and we must always be sensitive to what the Spirit of God is saying and doing. This is another value a good coach brings to the church planter - he is an advocate who can help you discern, evaluate, and make mid-course corrections as needed.

Always make good plans. But always monitor and evaluate your plan as you move forward! What are your thoughts?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tell Your Story

Every church planter needs to write and communicate his/her story!

People are drawn to passion and they are moved by stories. Every church planter has a story and they should be communicating that story with passion. To get focused and clear on it, you MUST write it down!What is your story?

Your story should answer the questions:
• Why are you planting a church instead of doing something else?
• Why are you planting in the location that you’re planting?
• What has led you to this place?
• What do you hope for/dream of?

Your story should define your calling. It should express your passion. It should articulate your dream. You must understand that stories touch the hearts of people. When you touch the heart, people will join with you to make this new church a reality.

To succeed as a church planter, your new church must have at its foundation a story that drives and directs it day by day. And that story begins with God’s story and your story! A compelling story will answer the “Why?” questions and cause others to want to become a part of that story.

Have you written your story? You should be able to do this in one page. Have you communicated your story? You should be writing letters, articles, blogs, etc. every week. Have you engaged others with your story? You should have 10 face to face appointments every week sharing your story with someone new!

You are not ready to plant a church until you have written and begun articulating your story!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Know Your Local Calling

Every missional church is keenly attuned to their local situation. I believe that a missional church is engaged both locally and globally as agents of the Kingdom of God. Think about your local setting and ask yourself these questions:
  • What are the unique needs around you? In your neighborhood? In your city?
  • How do you see these needs revealed socially, economically, environmentally, relationally, politically, and religiously?
  • Where do you see the Kingdom of God most relfected? Least reflected?
  • What special opportunities or events are found immediately around you?
  • What prominent issues stand out in the eyes of the public and/or media?
  • What needs and opportunities do the industries specific to your area create?
  • What are the most significant changes in your community over the last decade, and what needs does this create?
  • What is the creation story of our particular community, and what insights can this give us?
  • Does the history of our community reveal any spiritual strongholds?
  • How would you describe "lostness" in your community?
  • What one positive change in your community would have the most dramatic effect in people's lives and/or the community as a whole?

1 Chronicles 12:32 tells us that the men of Issachar "understood the times and knew what Israel should do." Do you deeply understand your community at this time, and do you know what God is calling you to do?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Your Kingdom Concept

In the book Church Unique my friend Will Mancini teaches us how to discover God's unique vision for our church. He says the first step is to discover your "Kingdom Concept." I love what Will does with this. He says "The Kingdom Concept is the simple, clear, big idea that defines how your church will glorify God and make disciples." He goes on to say that "your Kingdom Concept is what differentiates you from every other church in how you develop followers of Christ."

What is your greatest opportunity to have an impact on the Kingdom? What can your church do better than ten thousand other churches? When you answer these questions you will discover what Will calls "your organizational sweet spot" or your Kingdom Concept. The big question is how do we discover our unique Kingdom Concept?

Will borrows from Jim Collins' model in Good to Great to help us answer that question. In Good to Great Collins introduces the idea of the "Hedgehog Concept." He describes an organization's "Hedgehog Concept" as the intersection of three circles. For Collins, circle one is "What you can be the best in the world at." Circle two is "What drives your economic engine." Circle three is "What you are deeply passionate about." Once a company or organization answers these three questions they are set to discover their "Hedgehog Concept," which is the key to their longterm success. Where these three circles overlap DEFINES their unique "Hedgehog Concept."

Will masterfully applies this concept to the local church using three circles. Circle one is to know your local predicament: "What are the unique needs and opportunities where God has placed us?" Circle two is to identify your collective potential: "What are the unique resources and capabilities that God brings together in us as a church?" Circle three is to declare your apostolic esprit: "What particular focus most energizes and animates our leadership?" Where these three circles intersect is your "Kingdom Concept."

Every church young and old needs to be crystal clear on their Kingdom Concept. Are you clear? Is your church clear?

Friday, October 23, 2009

How Different Generations View and Use the Bible

Have you ever considered how different generations view and use the Bible? I've been watching this, but now Barna offers some interesting research. He says:

As observers of American culture debate whether the nation has entered a post-Christian phase, one overlooked discussion is how attitudes about and usage of the Bible may be changing. A new research report from the Barna Group examines recent nationwide studies on how different generations of American adults view and use the Bible. Read more...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

"The Essentials" is Postponed unitl December 11th!

Our popular seminar "The Essentials for Starting a Missional Church" has been postponed from October 30th until December 11th! Please note this change and plan to join us at Crossbridge Church for this new, updated One-Day Intensive seminar for church planting leaders! For more details click here.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Tools and Templates - Free Resources

Are you looking for some tools and resources that will help you as you gather people for your new church? Here are some resources designed for the new church planting leader. We call these our Essential Experiences. Here is an idex of tools that are available to you, absolutely free!

Also, join us for "The Essentials for Starting a Missional Church," on October 30th in Houston, TX. This is a one-day intensive for church planting leaders. Find out more here.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Jesus' Health Care Plan

Wow! This is the best article I've read from a Christian perspective on the health care debate. George Barna writes:

You can’t turn on the TV, listen to radio or read a newspaper without confronting some information about the raging debate on health care. Surveys continue to show that Americans are not well-informed on the issue and are struggling to figure out who is telling the truth about existing needs, the financial implications of the policies under consideration, and how they will personally be affected. Read more...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Things To Ask Before You Redo Your Website

One of my favorite thought leaders and marketing gurus is Seth Godin. He has posted an excellent resource on his blog entitled "Things to ask before you redo your website." Check it out!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Acts 29 Boot Camp

It was a great day today at the Acts 29 Boot Camp in Houston. I believe that this will be a catalyst for some new church planting activity in this area. A big thank you to Scott Thomas, Jeremy Pace, Chad Clarkson, and many others who helped to make this happen!

Monday, September 14, 2009

God Communicates With Church Planters

God is at work around us, and to accomplish this work He personally communicates His will to His people, inviting each church to join in His activity in specific ways. - Henry Blackaby

In church planting, it's absolutely critical that you know how to discern the "communications" that come from the Lord. One way to increase your spiritual sensitivity to this call is to engage in reading, conversations, and training around church planting. Join me this week at Acts 29 Boot Camp in Houston!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Is Social Media a Fad?

Is Social Media a fad or is it the biggest shift since the Industrial Revolution? Take a look at this and decide for yourself...

Monday, September 07, 2009

A Cure for Distrust

I want to highly recommend that you read A Gospel Primer for Christians by Milton Vincent. Every Christ-follower should be preaching the gospel to themself. This is a powerful resource. Let me share one excerpt:

Every time I deliberately disobey a command of God, it is because I am in that moment doubtful as to God's true intentions in giving me that command. Does He really have my best interests at heart? Or is He withholding something from me that I would be better off having? Such questions, whether consciously asked or not, lie underneath every act of disobedience.

However, the gospel changes my view of God's commandments, in that it helps me to see the heart of the Person from whom those commandments come. When I begin my train of thought with the gospel, I realize that if God loved me enough to sacrifice His Son's life for me, then He must be guided by that same love when He speaks His commandments to me. Viewing God's commands and prohibitions in this light, I can see them for what they really are: friendly signposts from a heavenly Father who is seeking to love me through each directive, so that I might experience His very fullness forever.

When controlling my thoughts as described above, the gospel cures me of my suspicion of God, thereby disposing me to walk more trustingly on the path of obedience to His commands.

Friday, September 04, 2009

How Many People Attend a House Church?

There is much debate about how to count the number of Americans who attend a "house church." I think Ed Stetzer has done a great job of helping us understand the most accurate picture. See is research here, "Counting People Who Attend House Churches."

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Discerning Your Calling

As I coach pastors and prospective church planters I ask a lot of questions about calling. As I've mentioned before there are many different views about this issue. However, I think there are 5 components to discerning and clarifying your calling.
  1. It requires an increasing intimacy with the one calling us. Without an increasing intimacy we will not be able to discern the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and minds. We will know our calling only to the degree that we know the Caller!
  2. It requires an increasing level of self-awareness. It's important to have a good understanding of your strengths and your weaknesses. It will not be your weaknesses that create the most confusion or problem for you, it will be your blindspots. Know yourself.
  3. It is confirmed in at least 3 ways. First, it is confirmed by an inescapable passion. What do you always come back to? Second, it is confirmed by the community of believers. What are those who know you well telling you? Third, it is confirmed by the fruit of your efforts. Are you an evangelist? Are you a gatherer of people?
  4. The calling to church planting requires certain aptitudes. That's why we always encourage prospective planters to complete a thorough church planter assessment to see how they measure up to the qualities of successful planters.
  5. The calling usually flows out of a journey. Can you identify the "markers" in your life that have brought you to the place of planting a new church?

Before you launch out in a church planting venture, make sure of your calling. For an additional training and resources, join us for "The Essentials for Starting a Missional Church." Also, get a coach!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Calling: What Do You Mean?

I have the privilege of working with church planters from many different faith traditions. I've discovered that the concept of "calling" is understood differently depending on your tradition or theological orientation.

Our brothers and sisters that come from a "Holiness" background tend to view calling as a very mystical experience. Those that come from a more "Biblicist or Fundamental" background tend to view calling as a more rational process primarily based on one's talents or spiritual gifts. Those from a more "Reformed" or "Covenantal" tradition tend to think of calling as something that comes from the church or the "covenant" community. Who's right?

I've wrestled with this concept for years and have systematically studied it from Scripture. (See last post for a summary.) I've come to believe that there is truth in each perspective. There is something that has to happen between you and God (mystical). There is something very rational about it that comes from ones journey/experiences and gifting. And I also believe that the Body of Christ plays an important role in clarifying and confirming one's calling.

So, what do we mean by calling? From Scriptural study, from great theological thinkers, and from faith tradition I have come to define calling in this way. Calling is a summons from God, a strong inner pull toward a particular course of action and/or place of service.

I close with a quote from Os Guiness: The problem with Western society is that we have too much to live with, and too little to live for. Discover your calling and live it out with passion!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

A Biblical Perspective on Calling; A Practical Definition

What can we learn about "calling" from simply looking at the Scriptures? Here's what I see:
  1. OT – to summons; to request their attention; everyday sense “God called to Adam…”
  2. OT – to name; to speak into existence (“God called the light day…”)
  3. NT – synonymous with salvation (ecclesia = called out ones)
  4. NT – called to various roles, responsibilities, lifestyles, places, and positions (Rom 1:1,6,7; I Cor 1:1-2,9,24,26; I Cor 7:17,20-21,24; Gal 5:13; Eph 1:18; Col 3:15; 2 Th 2:13-14; I Tim 6:12; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 5:4; I Pet 2:9,21; I Pet 3:9; I Pet 5:10)

From these passages I have come to see 2 dimensions of calling:

  1. Our PRIMARY calling is TO Jesus (into relationship & communion!)
  2. Our SECONDARY calling is FOR Jesus (to live out our primary calling in a specific direction, for which He has uniquely created us!)

In his book The Call, Os Guiness describes calling this way; Calling is the truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion and dynamism lived out as a response to his summons and his service.

With that said, here is a working definition that I like to use for calling: Calling is a summons from God; a strong inner pull toward a particular course of action and/or place of service.

On a scale of 1-10 (10 being highest), how clear are you on your calling? If you're planting a church you need to be in the 9-10 range. If not, don't plant until you get clearer on your calling!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The 4 Essentials for Starting a Missional Church

As we train church planting leaders we talk about the 4 essentials for starting a missional church. Here are those 4 essentials:
  1. Church Planters Must Have a Story. There should be a clear and compelling reason for what you are doing. This reason can be seen in how God has led you and worked in your life and circumstances up to this point. That's your story! You should be able to capture it and share it in a way that not only makes sense to others, but gives them confidence that this is truly what God has called you to do! By writing and refining your story you gain clarity of calling, clarity of mission, and clarity of values.
  2. Church Planters Must Have a Vision. There is so much confusion surrounding this concept of vision. Let me encourage you to "de-mystify" this. Yes there is certainly a divine component to vision, but really it is not that difficult. You simply want to get a clear picture of a preferred future in your mind. You want to clarify a picture of a specific church, in a specific community, impacting that community in a specific way. Gaining clarity does take some work, but you must do it in order to inspire others with a dream and direction that they will give their lives to.
  3. Church Planters Must Have a Plan. Unfortunately many planters are very undisciplined. They do not take the time and discipline to think, to write, to refine, and to schedule. We train planters in a simple form of project planning that requires them to be detailed and specific. This is just good stewardship. Yes, plans always change some in the process of implementation. But wise planters are always refining and managing their plan. Good plans include mobilizing intercessory prayer, evangelism & people gathering strategies, and resource gathering strategies, just to name a few.
  4. Church Planters Must Have Milestones. How do you know that you're on track? How do you know that you're really making progress? How do you know when to celebrate? Every big venture requires small wins. These are the milestones. They also serve as the metrics for measuring your success. Ed Stetzer's research suggests that many (if not most) planters have unrealistic expectations when beginning. This leads to discouragement for themselves and their teams. Milestones enable you to measure your progress and stay on track.

We are currently re-designing our entire training system for church planters. We hope to have this available soon. For more information on future "Essentials" seminars or church planter coaching email us at

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Friday, July 17, 2009

Find Your Strengths

The effective executive builds on strengths - their own strengths, the strengths of superiors, colleagues, subordinates; and on the strengths of the situation. Peter Drucker

In order to be all that God created us to be, and to do all that God created us to do, we must discover, know, and leverage our strengths! As a strengths coach, my aim is to help church planters and church leaders learn to use their strengths 80% or more of the time.

Conventional wisdom tells us that we must learn from our mistakes. However, all we learn from mistakes is the characteristics of mistakes. Instead, we should focus on learning from our successes. That's where we will discover our strengths.

Peter Drucker wrote that the best leaders "get their strengths together and make their weaknesses irrelevant." As a missional leader, that's what you must do. This also describes how we must lead our people. Help them discover their strengths. Then help them leverage those strengths on mission!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday, June 15, 2009

More Mega Church Research

My friend Ed Stetzer has some new research on the people who attend America's mega churches. You might find this surprising! I did. Check it out here.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Business as Mission

Two of my favorite people are featured in this article. These are men who love God and want to make a difference with their lives. They have been very involved in church planting in the U.S. and oversees. We have not only ministered together but we also share a passion for business as mission through The Growth Coach. Check this out...

The Growth Coach Attracts the Spiritually Motivated

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Twitter In The Church

I am enjoying watching the rapid changes that are taking place through online social media. As both a ministry leader and business owner, I'm engaging the new tools such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and now Twitter.

I know, some of you have been on Twitter since 2007. I'll admit, I'm not on the "bleeding" edge, but this is still a very new, yet powerful medium. You can find me at @coach4growth. To learn more about how this tool is changing our lives see these new articles from Time:

Twitter In Church, With the Pastor's OK

How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live

10 Ways Twitter Will Change American Business

If you are not Twittering, catch up! It's a powerful tool. But beware! It can be a crippling distraction and highly addictive!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Strengths Performance Coaching

I just returned from training with the Gallup Organization to become certified as a Strengths Performance Coach. Every pastor and ministry leader needs to know their talents, gifts, and strengths. Unfortunately, many do not. They end up spending a lot of time and energy working in their areas of weakness or mediocrity rather than in their strengths. I highly recommend that you and your team use StrengthsFinder. Three books that make this available to you are Now Discover Your Strengths, StrengthsFinder 2.0, and Strengths Leadership. If you truly want to leverage your strengths in ministry, take the inventory and then contact me or another Strengths Performance Coach.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Spiritual Formation

Today I preached on Gal 4:19, "...I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you." My questions were:
1. What does it look like when Christ is formed in us?
2. What does it take for Christ to be formed in us?

The message went well and the two congregations seemed engaged with me. The bottomline is this: Behavioral conformity is NOT spiritual formation. Spiritual formation is not:
1. legalism,
2. rule-keeping,
3. pressure,
4. exhaustion,
5. behavioral conformity.

Spiritual formation is a heart issue. See Pr. 4:23. When Christ is formed in us, Jesus behavior flows from the heart. To hear the podcast go to

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Missional Renaissance

Reggie McNeal's latest book Missional Renaissance is a must read for every pastor, church planter, and church leader. Reggie always offers the church rich and practical insight. For a church to become missional it has to make three shifts in its thinking and behavior:

  1. From internal to external in terms of ministry focus

  2. From program development to poeple development in terms of core activity

  3. From church-based to kingdom-based in terms of leadership agenda

What is most powerful about Reggie's book is that he gives us "scorecards" that help us measure the things that missional churches need to be measuring. Home run Reggie! Thanks.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Build Men

Every church planter needs a team like the Road Crew at Crossbridge. The Road Crew was a group of men who made a huge commitment week after week to set up and tear down for our Sunday service. Last night we had an appreciation dinner to honor these dedicated servants. It was incredible.

While Road Crew was very hard work and while it required a tremendous amount of commitment, there were lasting friendships and memories made. Also, many of these young men grew tremendously in their faith. As I listened to them tell stories of our 6 years as a portable church it was both hilarious and humbling. I felt honored to be in their presence.

The Road Crew started out as a few highly dedicated men who started at 6:30am on Sunday morning and didn't finish until nearly 2:00pm. Eventually more men were recruited and it grew to two groups, a set up group (that worked from 6:30-8:30) and a tear down group (that worked from the end of the service until about 2:00pm). Then more men were recruited and there were 4 groups - two for the even months and two for the odd months. What made it successful was the leadership exhibited by the original team and the expanding group leaders.

Now that we are in a permanent facility my big concern is that these men will not find a new challenge that will stretch them even further. Men need to be challenged to do things that only men can do. They need big challenges, masculine challenges, tough challenges. Every man needs a big vision. I pray that we can step up now and take them to a new level. Build men!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Never Stop Meeting New People

Some church planters have a difficult time meeting new people. This creates a problem in the pre-launch phase because their goal has to be to gather enough of a following to form a “critical mass.” The best church planters are often “people magnets.” They draw many others around them. Usually this means that they must be aggressive in meeting new people.

If a planter hopes to launch large I encourage them to build a solid prospect base of at least 200 people. They also need a missional core team who will build a solid prospect base of at least 200 people (400 total). Many church planters have never operated this way before, so this is a stretch. However, with some basic people skills and a high degree of intentionality, this is very doable.

The danger comes when the church is launched and the church planter becomes very busy with weekly services, preaching, programming, counseling, etc. The danger is to stop meeting new people. Don’t let this happen to you!

Even after you launch your new church, make it a habit to get out, network, and meet new people every week. Keep building your personal prospect list. Keep encouraging your core to be investing in people and inviting people who are far from God. Don’t lose the missional focus and discipline that you started with. Set the example. Never stop meeting new people.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Reflections From Exponential '09

I got home last night from Exponential, the National New Church Conference in Orlando, FL. It was the biggest crowd ever, probably in the 2,000 range. There were more church planting resources and organizations there than I've ever seen in my entire life. Ed Stetzer was right when he wrote about energy and enthusiasm surrounding church planting in North America. It truly is at an unprecedented high! The conference was a huge success in everyway. Congratulations to Todd Wilson and crew for an exceptional line up of speakers and a phenomenal event.

I'm very encouraged that so many denominations and churches are so passionate about church planting. More churches are being planted every year in the U.S. than probably ever before. There is a lot to be grateful for. There are more resources available today than ever before. There's no excuse for someone not educating themself thoroughly before planting. There are more coaching organizations than ever before - everyone eager to provide coaching to church planters. How can anyone not have dramatic success?

Francis Chan brought it all home at the end reminding us that this is really a work of God and we must be utterly dependent upon Him. A huge thank you to everyone who made this an incredible experience.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

2008 Was The Year That Man-Made Global Warming Was Disproved

Being a pilot and having an avid interest in meterology, I have been following the politically charged theories about man-made global warming for some time. The following article helps everyone see how we have been suckered by the polititians to believe something that is totally unscientific. Click here.

I'm also happy to see my good friend Ed Stetzer speaking up about this as well, see his "tweet" today @edstetzer.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Exponential: The National New Church Conference

I fly out early Monday morning for Orlando to be at Exponential. I hope you will be with us. This is the largest gathering of church planting leaders in North America. We are also working to schedule our next Essentials Training here in Houston for June. I'll have more details soon.

Church Planting can be very lonely and discouraging. Let me encourage you to work at staying connected to other planters, coaches, mentors, and advisors. Don't let yourself become isolated. It can happen before you know it. Isolation is the first step down a bad road. Stay connected and work to keep your heart encouraged.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet

Gavin Bryars composed this orchestral arrangement for the voice of a hobo singing, in London in 1971. His friend was making a movie about down and out sort of people, many who would break into drunken song while they were filming them. This particular man was not drunk. Later..."When I copied the loop onto the continuous reel in Leicester, I left the door of the recording studio open (it opened onto one of the large painting studios) while I went to get a cup of coffee. When I came back I found the normally lively room unnaturally subdued. People were moving about much more slowly than usual, and a few were sitting alone, quietly weeping. I was puzzled until I realized that the tape was still playing and that they had been overcome by the old man's unaccompained singing."

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Power Point Help for Graphically Challenged People Like Me

Seth Godin has done it again. He has given us a great resource for free. Do you need help creating better looking power points and presentations? This is for you, check it out:

Click here: Become a Really Good Graphic Designer.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Chick Fil A

This is the funniest video I've seen in a while - maybe because it is so true!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

You Must See This!

Wow! This is the most moving video I've seen in a long time. Take a look.

A Heck of a Day

One of my favorite stories is that of Jim Valvano, the legendary basketball coach at North Carolina State University. Nicknamed "Jimmy V", Valvano was diagnosed with bone cancer in June 1992 and then died in April 1993. The month prior to his death he spoke at the inaugural ESPY Awards, presented by ESPN, where he was awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award. In his speech, which drew a lengthy standing ovation, he made these comments:

To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special.

I like this quote because it sounds like a day in the life of a church planter, and that's a heck of a day! Ask God to help you enjoy every day of your church planting experience.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Train Your Core Group in Stewardship

My friend Ed Stetzer has conducted research on the health and survivability of church plants in the U.S. today. His research is available through the Leadership Network ( His research has revealed this:

Survivability increases by 178% when there is a proactive stewardship development plan within the church plant.

I've seen this to be true in my experience as well. I encourage every church planter to have an intentional stewardship training plan for their missional core prior to launch, and to have a plan for ongoing stewardship training after the new church is launched. Don't be afraid to teach on this topic!

One of my favorite examples of this is found at Hill Country Bible Church in Austin, TX. All of their planters (and they plant 3-5 churches each year) take their core groups through 3-4 weeks of stewardship training, they ask all their core to commit to tithe faithfully to the new church plant, and they ask for a one-time "first fruits" gift on top of that to cover start up costs. All of this happens prior to the launch of the new church. As a result, their plants are almost financially self sufficient from day one!

Train your core in stewardship. Ask for a strong financial commitment. Raise the bar higher than you've ever raised it, and see what God does!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Give The Challenge

Don't be afraid to give the challenge!

Sometimes we are afraid to raise the bar high. We ask ourselves "What if they say no? What if they bail out? What if we get criticized? If they turn away, am I a bad leader?" These are all common questions that church planters wrestle with in their minds. As a result, we're afraid to give a strong challenge to our core teams.

My encouragement to you is don't be afraid. Just do it! You must raise the bar high with the core team that is going to help you plant this new church. You'll never succeed if you don't have a team of highly committed missionaries in your core group.

What's holding you back? What fears are controlling you? What limiting beliefs are going through your head? Be bold and courageous. Call people to a high level of commitment and don't be ashamed. Jesus calls us to a high level of commitment - we should call our leaders to a high level of commitment as well. For resources to help train and equip your core click here. If you need more help, get a coach! We're here to help.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Join Us For Essentials

This week we will be presenting "The Essentials for Starting a Missional Church." The date is Thursday - Friday, Feb. 26-27. This will be the first presentation of our NEW 2009 VERSION. If you are interested in joining us or sending someone else to join us, please email me at

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Leverage Social Media Marketing

Many of the church planters I'm working with are beginning to use the social media in very effective ways. Facebook is becoming a powerful tool for networking and advertising. The good thing about advertising like Facebook ads and Search Engine ads is that they are "pay per click." You can set your budget and know that every dollar you spent had some kind of impression. One of the planters I'm coaching had 8 first time visitors from Facebook last month.

Some of my clients are beginning to use a national company called Reach Local. It's a little more expensive than say Google ads, but it offers more capabilities.

Another tool that is growing in popularity is Twitter. The booklet "The Reason Your Church Must Twitter" by Anthony D. Coppedge is a great resource. Many have been using blogs but now with Facebook and Twitter the bloggers are going to a new level. And don't forget about YouTube - a powerful tool that is being way under-utilized!

In my business I like Linked In and Ning. These are excellent professional networking tools that have many applications for churches as well as businesses. groups are also proving to be very effective in networking and outreach.

For those church planters who have relied primarily on marketing strategies like direct mail and print ads, this new strategy may seem quite unconventional. However, for the planters that have been leveraging "relationship marketing" like we teach in our "Essentials" training, these new online tools can take you to a whole new level. Plus they are very inexpensive. Whoever you are, you need to leverage the new social media opportunities that are available now.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

My Valentine

It was Valentines Day, 35 years ago (senior year in high school), that I sent my first valentine to a girl whom I fell in love with on our first date (9 months prior), though I first met her in 7th grade (another story), who later became my wife (33 years ago). She has been, and will always be, the love of my life. I love her smile, I love her voice, I love her touch, I love her embrace, I love everything about her. She has always gone the extra mile for me and with me. Every song Chicago sings makes me think about her. As I look back over the years, I can't imagine what life would have been like without her. She has been and will always be the greatest treasure of my heart. For me, Valentines Day is the day that I feel the most blessed.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

What Is The Gospel?

My thinking has been greatly influenced by Tim Keller. He has helped me come to appreciate the Gospel in much deeper ways. I think the key to really understanding and appreciating the Gospel is to understand how pervasive sin is in the human condition. Sin is not just a behavior, but it effects my identity, my relationships, my purpose, my work, my motives & ambitions, my longings, my thoughts, and my behavior. Until we understand how deeply sin has effected us we will not deeply appreciate the power of the Gospel.

When I look in my heart and my life I realize that I am far worse than I ever imagined. I am hopelessly and utterly sinful. But it's at exactly that point that I discover God's grace is far greater than I can even comprehend. The new identity, capacity, and potential that He gives me in Christ is amazing.

For a simple introduction, I highly recommend Tim's book Prodigal God. For a more indepth study I encourage you to visit his church website and find more of his articles and resources. I also recommend an old resource by Larry Crabb entitled Inside Out.

Sunday, February 01, 2009


I am a fanatic about systems. However, not all pastors are! Some feel like systems stifle creativity or the movement of the Spirit. Some think systems are almost anti-spiritual. Nothing could be further from the truth!

The truth is that you have a system for almost everything you do, though you may not know it. God created using systems; just consider the solar system, the ecosystem, the family system, not to mention the human body which is a conglomerate of highly sophisticated systems (nervous system, respiratory system, etc.)

If you are planting a church you must think about the systems you are creating. Remember, you cannot NOT create systems. You will either create good systems that produce health and effectiveness or bad systems that make your ministry ineffective, inefficient, and stagnate. Begin by identifying and evaluating the systems you have. Every missional church must have four major systems. You must have:
  1. An Assimilation System
  2. A Spiritual Formation System
  3. A Leadership Development System
  4. An Administrative System

Remember this, good systems:
Energy, and

Take a look at your systems! They are the key to ongoing effectiveness.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Tell Your Story More!

Your story should define your calling. It should express your passion. It should articulate your dream. You must understand that stories touch the hearts of people. When you touch the heart, people will join with you to make this new church a reality.

To succeed as a church planter, your new church must have at its foundation a story that drives and directs it day by day. And that story begins with God's story and your story! A compelling story will answer the "Why?" questions and cause others to want to become a part of that story.

Have you written your story? It's never too late. You should be able to do this in one page when you launch your new church. Have you communicated your story? You should be writing letters, articles, blogs, twits, facebooking, etc. every week. Before you launch your church you should have 10 face to face appointments every week sharing your story with someone new! After you launch, be sure you have at least 2 or 3 of these appointments each week.

You are not ready to plant a church until you have written and begun articulating your story. If you've already launched, keep building your story and keep sharing it! Make sure your leaders can tell the story too!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tell Your Story

Every church planter needs to write and communicate his/her story!

People are drawn to passion and they are moved by stories. Every church planter has a story and they should be communicating that story with passion. To get focused and clear on it, you MUST write it down.

What is your story? Your story should answer the questions:
  • Why are you planting a church instead of doing something else?
  • Why are you planting in the location that you're planting?
  • What has led you to this place?
  • What do you hope for/dream of?

Start writing! Start publishing it. Blog it. Tweeter it. Facebook it. Communicate it everywhere - large groups, small groups, one-on-one, everywhere! Tell your story! It's the foundation of your brand!

Monday, January 12, 2009

What Are You Seeing?

There has been a dramatic increase in energy and activity around church planting in the U.S. over the past 5-10 years, which is a good thing. The number of churches being planted in the U.S. has more than doubled in that time, which is also a good thing. Many people are talking about church planting today who would not have entertained the conversation 10 years ago, and there is an abundance of resources available today that were not available a decade ago, which is a VERY good thing! There is a lot to be greatful for as it relates to church planting in the U.S. today.

However, I do have a growing concern. It is appearing to me that an increasing number of new churches are closing. This may or may not be a bad thing. It does cause me to pause and ask the question "What are we doing?"

My hope is that the churches we work with will be sustainable beyond 2-3 years! My hope is that the churches we plant will thrive for at least one generation, and hopefully many more. The biggest challenge I see planters facing is the challenge to achieve the necessary critical mass for sustainability. This is a major focus of our coaching and consulting work. Let me know what you are seeing!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

What Are We Teaching Our Kids?

I just got this link from Seth Godin's blog. As you watch this, think about how we are discipling our children. Click here.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!

As I have been reflecting back on 2008 and thinking about where God may be leading us in 2009, a few things are becoming clearer to me than ever before. Our mission at NCI is to empower pastors and church leaders to dramatically increase their missional impact in the world!

Our NCI team is made up of dedicated practitioners, trainers, consultants, and coaches. Our guys - Tom, Paul, Roy, Hal, Phil, Bob (alias MissionAl), Ken, Wally, and our Houston based Hispanic leaders, Moises, Jorge, Jesus, and Maggie, are some of the most wonderful people in the Kingdom! It is a privilege for me to get to interact and co-labor with them.

Our focus is church multiplication and church mobilization. Our dream is to mobilize the church to transform the world.

Thank you to all of our supporters and ministry partners! We are looking forward to a great year this year! Wishing you a very blessed and happy New Year!