Sunday, September 28, 2008

Church Planting Movements or Jesus Movements?

Recently I have been reading two excellent books, The Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsch, and The Multiplying Church by my dear friend Bob Roberts. I recommend them both.

One of the key things that both of these men tell us is that the early church and the dynamically expanding church these past decades in China were not focused on creating a "church planting movement." Their focus was making disciples who knew and were passionate about Jesus. What they created were "Jesus Movements."

Sometimes I think we today miss the point when we focus on church planting movements. Authentic cpm's are the result not the goal. The goal is to make authentic disciples. When we do that we create a Jesus movement and churches are naturally born.

The central question and issue is this: Are we making passionate, missional Christ-followers? Or another way of saying it is are we making authentic disciples? Multiplication, movements, and church planting is the by-product. Let's be sure our focus is right and clear!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

What Are You Trying To Accomplish?

Recently we have been asking ourselves the question, "Are we being successful as a church?" I serve on the elder team of my church and we are clear about our mission. It is Mt 28:19-20. The way we say it is "To honor God by making growing followers of Jesus Christ." But how do we measure that?

As we wrestled with this question, we went back to define "What is a Disciple?" and "How do we know when we've made on?" This led us to do two things:
  1. Create a Profile of a Maturing Disciple (e.g. a growing follower of Jesus Christ), and

  2. Clarify the process of spiritual formation, beginning with the "pre-Christian" (e.g. how do we turn someone who is far from God and the church into a growing follower of Jesus?

What we have defined as our target (end goal) is a person who is pursuing:

  • Spiritual Intimacy

  • Biblical Community

  • Missional Living

We are now in the process of placing behavioral identifiers on each of these charactersitics, ways that we can know that this person is becoming a growing follower of Jesus. We are also defining the steps along the process -

Far from God & the Church ---------------->Growing Follower

We are identifying our metrics so we can evaluate how we are doing along the way. We are identifying the knowledge, character, and skills/practices that we want to develop in our people. We are also continuing to refine our profile of our outreach target group.

Are you making disciples? How do you know? You cannot manage what you do not measure. But what you measure will be your mission. Are you measuring the right things?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hurricane Ike - How Leaders Deal With the Unexpected

This past weekend we got visited by Hurricane Ike. We suffered some minor damage but many residents in Houston have suffered a lot. Yesterday one of our church plants was to have their final pre-launch Preview Service. It didn't happen. He called me and said none of the books talked about what to do if a hurricane hits on launch week. We talked through his NEW strategy for launch!

That's just one value of coaching. Unexpected things happen. However, leaders take the unexpected and turn it into a victory! That's what my friend is doing. What unexpected challenge or set-back are you dealing with right now? How can you turn it into a victory? That's leadership!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Protect Your Marriage While Church Planting

I'm back after taking a couple of weeks off. My recent reflections have been around the need to guard our marriages.

In church planting the work is never done! At the end of the day there are still more people to see, more details to cover, more strategy to plan, more projects to manage, and more ideas to create & develop. Plus we must always keep evangelism as a central focus, be discipling new and very immature believers, not to mention recruiting and developing more leaders. The work is never done.

Here's the issue: Can you say "no?"

Do you know when to stop? Are you monitoring the balance between work and family? Do you maintain enough margin in your life so that when those most critical relationships (e.g. spouse and children) need more time, attention, and energy from you - do you have the margin necessary to give them what they need without creating a crisis in the other areas of your life?

I have 3 suggestions:
  1. Reflect and journal about this aspect of your life. Pay close attention and be brutally honest with yourself. Remember, we lie loudest when we lie to ourselves (Eric Hoffer).
  2. Discuss it openly and honestly with your spouse. Give them permission and space to express fully their thoughts and feelings about this. Make sure you know their honest perception about how well you are present for spouse and family.
  3. Discuss it with an accoutability partner. To be honest, sometimes our spouse is so committed to us and what we're doing that they are not honest with themselves about personal needs and desires that are going unmet. Have an outsider asking you tough questions and challenging you about your marriage and family.

Church planting is demanding! It is very hard work. But it is something we are passionate about; so passionate that sometimes we lose perspective about our personal reality. It's easy to become obsessed with our "mission."

Don't fool yourself and don't lie to yourself. Make sure you have a firm grip on reality in your marriage and family. Be intentional. Always be taking action to nurture and protect your marraige while church planting. What are you going to do today?