Category Archives: Clarify Your Vision

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!


Seeing Through the Eyes of Jesus

As planters, perspective is the key to everything. In this guest post, John Burke speaks about the essence of his new book.The scripture makes it abundantly clear: “God saved you by his grace…[Why? Because] We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:8-10) Paul makes it clear that it was a gift from God, not something you did for yourself. God did this because He still sees that work of art He created us to be.


So why do we struggle to treat people like the immensely valuable, one-of-a-kind masterpiece God created with his own hand? As I study the life and interactions of Jesus with very sin-stained, muddied people, it becomes evident that Jesus could see something worth dying for in all people he encountered. Jesus could see past the mud of sin to the masterpiece God wanted to restore.


What do you see most when you encounter sin-stained people? What do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you see the mud? Or do you see the masterpiece God wants to restore? What you focus on determines who you become and the impact you have on people around you! That’s the heart of the book I just finished, Mud and the Masterpiece: Seeing Yourself and Others through the Eyes of Jesus.


The Pharisees primarily focused on the mud of sin that covered the lives of the irreligious. They prided themselves in mud-avoidance. They fixated on mud. They tried to clean the mud off others with their own dirt—it didn’t work then and it doesn’t work now!


Jesus was different. Jesus demonstrated a spiritual vision that he wants to impart to us—to see the masterpiece he sees in us, and to renovate us to become people whose hearts reflect what God sees, even in the muddiest, sin-stained life.  Jesus saw God’s masterpiece, waiting to be revealed by his grace, and as a result, many people actually became what he envisioned. What do you envision, even for the muddiest human you encounter?


Mud and the Masterpiece is available now on preorder Here and Here.

Teaching Your Church to Dance

I’m neither a drummer, nor a fan of Dancing with the Stars, but I know enough to tell the difference between the slow, simple rhythm of the waltz and the much faster and more complex rhythm of the salsa. I wonder – do you know the beat your church plant dances to?

Rhythm Creates Momentum

Most North American churches have a rhythm – Sunday morning services, midweek groups, and maybe a meeting or two along the way. Whether that rhythm is ideal, or not, it informs what’s “next.” If it’s Sunday, we go to church service. If it’s Tuesday, we go to group. If it’s the 3rd Thursday, we have a meeting. Rhythm creates momentum. During the formation of a new church those familiar rhythms are missing, and so is the momentum they create.

The absence of established rhythms provides church planters with the opportunity, and responsibility, to create new ones for themselves, their team, their circle of influence and ultimately the new church. How do you establish new rhythms to create missional momentum?

Set The Beat

Start by prioritizing what is important. Things like…

Passionate prayer.
Meeting new people.
Creating space for community to form.
Serving your neighbors.
Spiritual conversations.
Developing leaders.

Order them into daily, weekly and monthly rhythms. For example…

Order each day around prayer and intentional time in public and social spaces to meet new people.
Order each week around community, serving and spiritual conversations.
Order each month around developing leaders and celebrating God’s work in your lives.

Just like there are almost infinite drum patterns, there are more ways to prioritize and order a forming church than could possibly be listed here. Your rhythm needs to fit your calling, capacity and context. Find your rhythm, and you will create missional momentum.

How Do You Fund a New Church?

There are a handful of questions most potential church planters ask.  Some are personal: “Is God really calling me to this?”  Some are very practical: “Where will the money come from?”

If you’re wrestling with that one, here are some options:

  1. You’re independently wealthy.  You wouldn’t be asking if you were, but some planters are.  If you are, good for you – now go put your money to work.
  2. You support yourself by working bi-vocationally.  Paul made tents.  Obviously that means you have less time for ministry, but it also means you don’t have the pressure to “grow fast so you can get paid.”
  3. You are supported by a denomination, network or parent church.  If someone is willing to pay you to start a church, you’ll have a huge burden lifted. Keep in mind that kind of support almost always comes with expectations. The expectations may be things you would do anyway.  They may be things you consider well worth doing in exchange for the support – just make sure you know what the expectations are, and that you are willing to work towards them.
  4. You are supported by others outside your church plant.  This is the American “missionary” way.  It works. You need a network of relationships, a clear and compelling vision and a willingness to ask everyone in that network to support you.  If you’re not willing, that may be an indicator of some things that are going to stand in your way in the future.  If you don’t already have the network, building the network is very difficult and time-consuming, and asking strangers for money is doubly hard.
  5. Your are supported by others inside your church plant.  You need people to go with you on this mission.  If they aren’t willing to put their money in it, they aren’t on mission.  Theoretically 10 tithing families can support a pastor at the average income of the group.  Question is, even if you have the 10 families, do you want all their giving to go to pay you?

Each option has its pros and cons.  Practically speaking, it will make a huge difference simply to figure out which one, or which combination, of these options you’re going after – and then go after it.  If you’re going to be bi-vocational, start preparing for that now.  If you’re raising funds, start building your network.  If you’re going to depend on a team, start gathering them.  Most of the funding fiascoes I’ve observed grow out of lack of clarity.  A planter hopes they are getting denominational support, so they don’t fund raise, then when the denomination’s money doesn’t come, they are left in the lurch.  A planter hopes to raise outside support, but doesn’t start raising the money soon enough and then realizes it’s harder than they thought.  Money should never be a hindrance to the work of God.  Get clear on your funding and get going.

Are We Reproducing Mice or Elephants?

It takes 616 days for an elephant to reproduce.  Only 19 days for a mouse.  Which means that in the time it takes for elephants to multiply 1 generation mice can multiply 32 times.  I am not a biologist, but I assume at least part of the the explanation is the smaller the animal the faster it reproduces. Which in turn, begs the question, are you breeding elephants or mice?

Ask just about anyone (in the west) what a church is and they will describe a building where a group of people come each week to attend services which are provided by professionally trained pastors and accompanied by an often dizzying array of programs.

I’m not saying any of that is bad – it just sounds more like an elephant than a mouse and reproducing elephants takes a long time.  What if you focused instead on reproducing the smallest part of the “elephant”?

What if you trained every disciple to make another disciple, every leader to make another leader, ever group another group, every ministry another ministry?

Rapid multiplication of the smallest parts would eventually lead to multiplication of the largest whole.