A great post by Cerulean Sanctum.
But here, it seems to me what some church planters do is more akin to fostering envy. Their new church is hotter. Their new church is cooler. Their new church meets a felt need not addressed by the church across the street. So people in that community shuffle from church to church. Or the new church plant sucks completely dry some older church that wasn’t quite as hip. And the church planter gets a pat on the back for doing a fine job moving people from Them to Us.
Meanwhile, the percentage of people who are genuine born-again Christians in this country continues to drop. Meanwhile, the number of people attending church on the weekends falls off a cliff. More new churches than ever, and yet worse results.
What really troubles me is that you don’t need the Holy Spirit at all to start what passes for the average church plant here in the U.S. You just need a clever marketing campaign. In fact, if one of the challenges on the TV show The Apprentice were to start a church that had a hundred regular attendees within six months , I suspect the contestants would have no problem doing so, even if not a single one of those contestants was born again.
How sad is that?
You want a real test of God’s power? John the Baptist, by the Holy Spirit empowering his ministry, helped restore a dead nation to life. This is one reason why Jesus said there was no prophet greater than John.
Go read the whole post. Tell me what you think.
…without spending money. Just came across this and wanted to share this thought from Brian Thomas. Here is what Brian says:
A small example from our own work is the many ways we can be helped:
1) Encouragement through prayers and cards
2) Help in finding a church planting wife that can correspond with my wife on occasion.
3) Providing contacts that would hep us in our fund raising efforts (people to meet or those who may have contacts)
4) Providing contacts that will help me in my picture book writing, devotional writing and with selling my photography (ways we hope to help support our work in the future).
Any of the above would help us out tremendously. Everyone knows someone. I have had ministers in small churches recommend contacts in some very large churches. People underestimate what they can personally do for missionaries and domestic church planters (both are the same in my book). God has provided each of us with the gifts to help others. You can probably think of other ways to help missionaries/church planters without spending money, leave those in the comments below.
Small churches, I’ve got a suggestion for the next time someone cold calls you on the phone asking to speak about their work for God. Instead of saying “We’re not interested.” and quickly hang up the phone (it’s happened to me a few times) or say that you’re too small and money is tight, try saying, “We have no money, but is there another way can we help?” You then might want to add the simple phrase, “I’m serious.”
I’d probably faint if someone asked me the above question. Here’s your mission – make someone faint in the very near future!!! Create a low or no cost missions ministry today for your congregation or for yourself. God will smile upon you.
What a great reminder from Brian. We can all do more. We need to give more and help support Kingdom work.
This post is my opinion on something that could be considered controversial to some. It’s not intended to be inflammatory and I don’t want it to come across as such. Now you would think I was talking about sex or something really provocative like Hyper-Calvinism… but that’s not the case. I am not even talking about “pornography” in the sense of the internet/magazine depravity that is ravaging the church these days. I am talking about church planting conferences, convergences, rallies, break-outs, meet-ups or whatever they may be called. Let’s start this way: Here is a quote from Ed Stetzer:
“Too many conferences and chapel services are like ministry pornography. They’re an unrealistic depiction of an experience you are never going to have that distracts you from the real thing. …. Normal is that you plant a church in America and 4 years later it’s a 100. That’s normal.”
Be careful to read what he says. It’s a good comparison. Pornography (as we know the internet/magazine variety to be) provide an unrealistic depiction of sex. It takes the sacred, marriage based sex, and turns it into something it’s not. “TOO MANY” conferences do the same thing.
a “yes” or “no”.
I had a meeting with Judy the head of the ministry which owns the old empty church building. It was an informative meeting as she spent a long time talking about a number of things. They have had plans for years to start a church in the area but nothing ever seemed to come of it. She had a guy who she was training to be a “pastor” and he just got a DUI, his third in 25 years so it involves federal jail time, so they aren’t going to be able to use the building. She said she needed to speak to the “board” (whoever they are) about it.
My points were simple. There is a church here NOW, a pastor here NOW and we need a place to meet. I didn’t want to tell her that I think God has been reserving the building for us after she told me there troubles of starting a church. I took along a man who is involved in our church plant. His name is Larry. I guess the ministry there has had interaction with people down here in Bear Lake and there are some issues with the community so that ministry pulled back a bit.
All that to say, it’s in God’s hands and it’s pretty typical of what you have to deal with in a small community/rural area. Larry told me that he thinks it may have been a bad idea to take him up there and that “this” and “that” would probably happen. I told Larry to have some faith in God.
I truly think the reason God has pulled an outsider into this community to plant this church is because I don’t know all the old battles and animosity that may have taken place in the past and that “it won’t work because…” isn’t an option for us. God has a purpose and reason and I trust him. Even if I get a “no” answer. But I think it’s God’s will for us to be in that building soon and told the head of the ministry that owns it that.
Please keep praying friends.
In other news… I am waiting for a “certified” birth certificate so I can get my license over here. It’s costly because I have a CDL with the hazmat endorsement. Hopefully I’ll get it in the mail today.
Also please pray that God provides a vehicle for us that can pass the PA. Inspection. Our Ohio vehicles have no hope of passing. Our needs are pretty distinct. 4 wheel drive is a necessity where I live, not really an option.
I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the prayers.
Anyone who has uprooted your family and moved into a closed rural community will understand what this post by Jeff Gauss is talking about.
During our recent trip to Florida I had the opportunity to listen to my wife, Heidi, as she described our church to other pastors, leaders and family. Her simple description really resonated with me and brought everything we’ve been thinking and talking about into focus. “We are a church for outsiders,“ she said over and over again.
Our community is probably a typical small midwestern town. If you were born and raised here, you are an insider. If you weren’t, you are an outsider. Over time you may establish relationship and trust as an outsider and be gradually allowed to penetrate the outer edges of the insider circle, but you will never truly be an insider.
Our family has been pretty warmly welcomed here in NW Pa, but then again I am sometimes rather dense to being “snubbed”. If you are going to snub me you have to be pretty blatant about it. Now that’s good for me and my family in some ways, but I always have to make sure that am not so oblivious to it that I am seen as insensitive. So, as far as I know, we haven’t been snubbed too much here.
Darby Livingston, author of the “Flyover Planting” Blog, has a lot to say about that recent “Time” magazine piece to the Rural/Small Town Pastor dilemma.
I don’t think anyone set out to intentionally keep the brightest pastors from the town and country or rural environments. But I do think it’s a product of a system of training pastors that is based on the Greek academy rather than the Bible. Train leaders like the world trains leaders, and you’ll get the same results as the world gets. The Bible describes an elder as one who is stable in life and family. The elder has proven himself to be a servant of those in his church. Yet these are the type of men who can’t just up and move to go to seminary. It wouldn’t be fair to them or the churches they’re serving.
(Preach on Bro. Darby) I agree whole-heartedly that we need to re-evaluate our idea of real, biblical training of our pastors and that we need to move to a people who are called by God instead of choosing an employment opportunity.
Let me be the first to tell you, I am no fan of the “emergent church” (what it has become) and the characters associated with what has become their “brand”. (I know “branding” is the big thing now. We don’t do a whole lot of “branding” in the country unless your speaking about cattle. Even more popular is “banding” but us guys don’t like to talk about that…) When the ideas that were thrown about initially (before the branding and books sales) of things like changing people perceptions of what “church” really is, I was open to a lot of it. It resonated to me. “Being the church, instead of going to church.” is biblical and persuasive. Looking at our lives mission as reaching others with the gospel, not just writing our checks to our faith promise commitment and being “done” for the month. Not just coming to visitation and putting in our time. Those things made me scream YES!
But what happened reminds me a lot of this recent election. A lot of people were tired with the abuses of the previous adminstration and congress. Now I know those are painful words to lifelong staunch Republicans, but take it from this Independent, both the Democrats and the Republicans are there for only one group of people… themselves. Anyway, the emergent church reminds me of this recent election because a lot of people voted for the “change” and then the “change’ turned into a wholesale gutting of principals that many Americans hold dear. Now some folks embrace that change and think that it’s what we really need. Some folks, like myself, believes that what we actually need to do is return to our roots and principles and rethink how those are lived out today.
We need to view the culture through our scriptural lense instead of scripture through our cultural lense. And don’t get me wrong… the idea of the church being the building or the “house of God” is just as much viewing scripture through our cultural lens as viewing homosexuality as in step with God’s will and purpose for men and women.
Go check out Pastor Mike W.’s blog The Rural Route Church immediately. He has a passion for the rural church and great sense of humor. Make sure to check out both his uplifting post about a volunteer in the local abortion counseling clinic and his desire to form a union for Pastors.
Here’s a little taste of the proposed union for pastors:
Although specific to Canada, this well-written article has some great thoughts.
The sheer mass of people in a city lends itself to division into segments and cultures. A major difference between the city and the rural church planting environment is that the urban planter can narrow his or her focus into a specific niche, marketplace, culture or people group. The church doesn’t have to reach everyone – it has the luxury of having a mass of people to reach for nearly any niche.
In contrast, the rural or small town church planter cannot afford to segment the people of the community. There will not be enough people to sustain itself as a church if the people group is too small. The small town church planter must be more of a generalist in terms of contextualization, or else seek to target the largest segment of the community and risk leaving the smaller groups unreached.
Even going further, (and I will write more about this in the future) the rural church planter has much more baggage to deal with because we can’t deftly move to a side avenue when one of our routes are blocked. (That’s true in reality and not just physically).
In the spirit of Revelations:
I know where you live: in a nation ruled by the god of Business, where those who do not have the power to buy are shunted aside. The old and the very young are ignored. The few (who do not make up a critical mass, a niche market, a group worthy of attention) are dismissed.
Instead of a business, you rural churches have been a faithful family. You have refused to be professionalized; you have rejected the model of corporate effectiveness. Like me, you have chosen to be inefficient. You have lavished love and energy on the old and sick, on the isolated, on the very young. You have patiently waited decades for fruit. You ministers who spend your lives in the service of a congregation of 30, you teachers who pour out your souls for a Bible class of 5: you have understood what it means to be children of the Father and brothers and sisters of the Son.
You have also rejected those who claim to act in my name: those church-planting experts who advise that my people “target” only densely populated areas so that the largest number of people can be efficiently herded into the kingdom; the denominational leaders who have seen you as a useful training ground for inexperienced pastors who will soon move on to “better pulpits” in more worthy (and populated) places. You have endured this, and remained strong, and understood the truth: that size and efficiency are important only in the economy of hell.
Read the rest here.
I just say… YES!