Author Archives: Craig Whitney

All The Good Things…

May He give you the power to accomplish all the good things

your faith prompts you to do. 2 Thessalonians 1:11


I’ve been reading through the New Testament and that verse caught my attention this morning.  I’ll be honest, my first thought was about a project I’ve been working on for almost a year that is almost finished. (You’ll hear more about that soon).


My second thought was about you.  Every week over 50 of you visit Church Planter Profiles and complete the Initial Screening Assessment because your faith has prompted you to do something good – start a new church.


Here is an essential truth: you can plant a church, but only the Holy Spirit can make it grow.  It is the Holy Spirit who plants churches, and He does that through people who have faith to pay attention to his promptings and pray constantly for his power.  A vision and strategy are essential, but they are a poor substitute for the Holy Spirit’s guidance.  Your gifts and abilities are valuable, but only when they are empowered by the Holy Spirit.


I’d encourage you to ask yourself the same two questions I asked myself:

  1. Am I doing the good things the Holy Spirit has prompted me to do?
  2. Am I trusting in the Holy Spirit for the power to do it?

Know this – I am praying that He will give you the power to accomplish ALL the good things your faith prompts you to do!


Handling Rejection

“We’re leaving.”  I was sitting in the makeshift office of our financially struggling church plant.   A wonderful couple, who had been with us from the very beginning, had just dropped the bomb.  Once my brain succeeded in telling my body to breath again, my legs wanted to use that oxygen to run to the parking lot and throw up.  If you’ve planted a church, you’ve probably been there.  If you’re getting ready to plant a church here is one of the ugly truths – people leave.  Some get new jobs.  Others have unmet expectations.  A few are downright divisive. Here are a few practical suggestions for handling rejection in church planting:


Send Missionaries – Our society is more mobile than ever and very few people spend their whole lives in one place.  When life changes take people away, celebrate what God has done in and through them, and send them out as missionaries.  Change always creates opportunity.  Use this opportunity to communicate clearly about the value of people and bigness of God’s mission.


Accept Goodbye – We have a word for people who can’t or won’t accept goodbye – stalker.  It won’t do you or your church any good if you become one.  That doesn’t mean you should ignore people who fall away into sin or wander away in to relational isolation.  Consider how much integrity and respect it demonstrates to tell a friend, leader, or pastor, “I’m leaving.”  Respond with a similar level of grace and gratitude.  Make it your goal to keep a bridge between you, rather than create a chasm or a wall.  You’ll enjoy trips to the grocery store and soccer games a lot more if you do.


Confront Division – Otherwise healthy baby churches have died, because leaders were unwilling to confront divisive people.  Learn to recognize the difference between whining and dividing.  Whining is a sign of immaturity and the whiner’s goal is usually to get someone to feel bad for them.  They want attention.  Division is a power play and the divider’s goal is to get as many people as possible to agree against leadership.  They want alliance.  When you see that, call it what it is and confront it quickly and decisively.  (See Titus 3:10-11).


Love Abundantly – When you catch your breath and the need to throw up is replaced by a much more profound ache in your heart, not your stomach, there will be a temptation to protect yourself.  If I don’t love, I can’t be hurt by rejection.  Love anyway.  Love abundantly.  Dare I say, love recklessly.  The one who loved us first was and is rejected, yet he loves without limits.  His love is enough.


What If Every Church Became a Church Planting Church?


There are approximately 350,000 churches in the US.  This number has stabilized in recent years, with estimates that even though 3500 churches die each year, 4000 are born.  We’re going forwards, but that means it takes almost 100 churches to give birth to one new one.  What if every church became a church planting church?


I spent a few days in Wichita recently at West E Free Church where they are showing the way for churches planting churches.  Here are a few insights:

  • Start with Prayer – It sounds so obvious, but I wonder how many churches really do it?  You don’t wonder at West.  Their passion for planting started with prayer and continues to grow as they pray in audacious ways for God to reach their city.
  • Focus on Your City – The question isn’t “how can we grow our church?”  The question is “how can we reach our city? Or county?” Or whatever circle of influence God has given you.  When you start with growth, your focus turns inward.  When you start with reach, your focus turns outward.
  • Commit your Resources – Planting churches will take time and money.  At West they assigned Chris Rollman to lead the charge and put a significant portion of their budget in play.   If you’re thinking, “they can afford it” the answer is yes, because they choose to.  West is larger than most churches, but not a mega church.  There is a shopping list of good stuff they could use their resources for; they’ve chosen to put church planting at the top of the list.
  • Build Partnerships – A focus on their city has led West to reach out to other local churches and church planters.  This isn’t “their” thing, it’s “God’s” thing and other leaders and churches our beginning to share the vision.  A desire to do more than they are able has led West to partner with others who can help, like ELI.  They are using both Church Planter Profiles and Cultivate  to discover and develop church planting leaders.
  • Have a Long View – When you talk with Ken Cooper about church planting he doesn’t fire up your passion with how many churches they are going to plant this year.  He tells you about how many people he is praying they will reach before he dies.  Church planting isn’t their strategy du jour.  Church planting is their mission and their passion.

What if, like West, your church became a church planting church?

To learn more about West E Free church planting visit


We’re Hiring! Missional Network Catalyst

Gateway Church in Austin and the Emerging Leadership Initiative are looking for a missional Global Network Catalyst.

Four years ago, Brian and Amy sat in church doing nothing because they were too new and “messy.” Today, with coaching and training, they lead 100 volunteers every week, serving food to 800 working poor families in extended stay motels. They also host a Sunday Service where 100 people, unwelcome in most churches, are exploring faith, and they are discipling people to lead groups in their motels.

We are seeing these Networks emerge around the globe in Knoxville, New York, Massachusetts, Australia, and Norway.

We need a missional leader to help catalyze this movement of Networks, raising the church out of the culture, all around the globe!

We are looking for:

  1. A Disciple Maker:  You planted a church or started a ministry that grew by making disciples.
  2. An Innovator.  You dream about trying something new.
  3. A Relator.  You make connections easily and persistently build on them.
  4. A Developer.  You turn ordinary people into extraordinary leaders.
  5. A Communicator. You speak and write clearly, consistently and concisely.

Want to know more?  Send an email to and we will send you more details on the position, and how you can apply.