10 Lessons, from John

Creating something out of nothing is challenging, but this is the only way we can really see the culture become the church. I want to see people grow and be unified as a church, but I always want to start with those who are not the church, with the culture around us, relationally connecting life-by-life.

These 10 lessons I’ve learned have been how God has change lives, that in turn impacted a neighborhood, and now influence a city and the world:


1. People Matter Enough to be Reminded
Realize that it’s not about you – it’s about a world that’s on a slide going south away from God. If you forget that, you’ll take things personally. Remember that good things don’t just naturally happen. People left alone don’t tend to seek God. People left alone don’t tend to stretch themselves to grow in faith or stretch to give money and time to those less-fortunate. It takes energy. As a leader, part of that energy is to remind people.


2. Never Waste a Gathering
No matter what the gathering is for – serve kids, have a party, small group, bike ride, or building houses – pay attention to not wasting it. Have fun first. Create life and people will want to come back. Cast vision and orient people to what they can expect. Always give next-steps. Every gathering is about connecting to community, but people need steps along the way.


3. Tell Stories to Shape Values
A story tells everybody “this is who we are and this is what matters.”


4. Connect Others Constantly
Give people enough time, and they’ll want to hang with their group and forget new people. Watch for people who might be feeling left out at every gathering. People feel valued and loved as people take interest in them.


5. Don’t Be Afraid to Have a Big “Ask”
Challenge people to grow spiritually. Many times God’s spirit prompts us but we “do the person a favor” by saying “no” for them. We’re potentially closing someone off from a life with God. That’s not a favor. You have to overcome that fear and make big asks.


6. Serve Well Together
Getting people serving creates ownership. When you serve together serve well.


7. Be Generous with Praise and Encouragement
You can’t hire enough people to do all the work. You need volunteers. Generous praise and encouragement is how you pay them.


8. Ask “Who’s Next, What’s Next?”
You’re only as strong as your next new leader, so always be looking for the “relative” leaders – the ones giving a little bit more. Sometimes their lives are messy. Think about how to help them take next steps of growth.


9. If Your Unchurched Friends and Neighbors are not Becoming the Church, You’re Ineffective
This is one of my most significant lessons. If people are not becoming the church — and LEADING the church – within 3 to 5 years, you’re not being effective. When you start to see this happen, when you the church being raised up out of culture, just as it happened in Corinth, Athens, Rome. That’s exciting!


10. Don’t Do This Without God (It’s His mission, your adventure)
This is really the first one. This is His mission and your adventure. You can’t do this without God.

4 thoughts on “10 Lessons, from John

  1. Godfrey

    Thank you for pointers like these. In serving peoples’ needs it is easy to forget some of these points…
    Blessings & Continued Favour
    (Melbourne, Australia)

  2. Bobby Rife

    Hey John, I read “No Perfect People” years ago and have been trying to live it ever since. I received this link in an email, read it and like it; then I looked down and saw the author was you. It was a blessing, good to bump into you again.

  3. Earl C. Wallace

    Great article and reminders. I started a Bible study from scratch, mostly people attend who I did not know until they heard me speak about my book, which is based upon the leadership styles revealed in the book of Judges.

    I feel I am doing most of your points well, although I could do better at number 2. Getting started on time when people start connecting with each other is difficult for me, because I don’t want to interrupt people telling their stories. (Although just now it occurs to me I could say, “Let’s pick up that interesting story after the study concludes, so hold that interesting story/thought.”)

    I am falling down, however, at point number 5, and I am not asking well enough to get people motivated to take us to the next step and start a collection to rent space for us to hold a Sunday and/or Saturday night church service.

    Any advice?

    1. Craig Whitney

      What a great entrepreneurial spirit! I would encourage you to focus more on multiplying than gathering. Look for one or two people who could do what you’ve done in starting this group with another group. Focus on getting 4-5, or even 8-10 of those groups started. Then you’ll have both the relational momentum and the leaders to start a gathering that really reaches people in your city. Check out http://www.elichurchplanting.com/out-of-the-culture/ to read more how this fits into our out of the culture process.


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