Monthly Archives: August 2008

Wineskins

You know, the Bible is so clear about trying to put “new wine in old wineskins.”  To me that means, that forever we will be making element and mental changes to our services and churches, while never compromising any page of the scripture.  It’s called packaging changes, language changes, and M.O. changes.

Kim and I were in two different churches yesterday:

Interestingly enough, both of these guys are amazing leaders, both of these churches provided fabulous worship experiences, both of these churches have grown at a racecar pace, and both of their churches meet in buildings that, at one time, had vibrant, growing, energetic denominational congregations meeting in them.  For whatever reason, these churches no longer needed the space.  My thoughts began to run, as Kim and I had just been in a similar setting in Charlotte, NC a few weeks ago where Next Level Church had bought a building of an established church that had gotten down to 30 people.

Here is and was my premise and I said to Kim regarding Charlotte: “Not that he ever would have wanted to, but I’m postiive that that church would have never voluntarily let Todd come in and transform their current church to healthiness.  They would choose to die before they would do that.  Todd’s church had to be started from the outside with no hoops to jump through, grow so much they were out of space, and then purchase that church at a later date.”  28 of those 30 people are now in Next Level Church, which has more than 600 in attendance. 

Why is that?  It’s happening all over the United States and will happen even more.  Churches that won’t radically alter their current way of doing church and mentality of doing church, will continue to decline, falter, and fail, and whether you like it or not, will either be given away to another church, leased by another church, given back to a denomination, or bought by another church that has moved to the area and launched a new church, which, by the way, is the greatest evangelistic tool this side of heaven!  This is the very reason that revival is coming to America through church planting.

ILLUSTRATION:  I had a good friend tell me the horrible story of his parents drowning in a local lake.  He said that when he found them, they were hanging on to an old log there in the lake and here is the most fascinating part.  He said that what they didn’t know was that if they had just put their feet down into the water, they could have walked out.  The water was that shallow. 

Many, many churches need to just put their feet down and walk out of their mess.  However, very few established churches really want change!  They ALL say they do, but most don’t.  There is too much history the old way, too many people pleasers, and too many of the old guard in the church cemetary for the current crew of leadership to hold fast and make the radical, renegade, and pioneer changes necessary to find new life for their church.  They will hang on to their history until their death, if need be, so that everybody left will be proud of them.  All of this in exchange for a slow death of the once vibrant body; All of this posturing while 80% of their county attend no one’s church.  The Bible was way ahead of it’s time…it knew what it was talking about!

Coming soon, to your town!

A Great Friday Afternoon

So enjoyed lunch with a new friend, Matt Evans, pastor at Rockbridge Community Church in Dalton, GA.  It’s one of those kinds of relationships that has an immediate connection and affinity.  What an encouragment for me, personally.  You are talking about a guy that has the “fragrance of Christ” in his life…a breath of fresh air.  God has used Matt, already, in our journey in many, many ways!  Yesterday, even more so…all I continue to say is, wowww!  God is ALWAYS at work raising up great men like Matt to lead people into His presence.

A Reminder For Us All

A few more reminders of why we are planting a new church:

  • To save those that are far from God
  • Existing churches just aren’t doing it
  • The only state growing in church population is Hawaii
  • 3,660 churches started each year;  4,600 close
  • We need 38,802 new churches just to keep up with population growth
  • Every generation has experienced a percentage decrease in those that profess Christ
  • Only 2% of your kids’ generation will be Christ Followers

Externally Focused

The thing I love about church planting is that it is Kingdom work right out of the chute.  Why else would you start a church, except for the call, of course, but everything you do impacts and reduces lostness.  One of the ways to change a city is to serve it and other churches.  Jesus represented and modeled this concept very well.  No need to be apprehensive to partner with other kingdom activities…No need to be jealous of another new church right beside you in town…No need to be concerned that your church didn’t get the gig…No need to be concerned!  Reason: In the greatest of cities with the greatest of new church plants, from 1991-2004, the unchurched population grew from 39 million to 79 million people- Imagine that, with all the kickin’ stuff all these great churches have going on!  We need everybody!!!!!  Remember, the average county in America has 80% of its population who attend no one’s church on a given Sunday.  Hello!

We are excited at Origin Church to have as one of our core values, Irresistible Service.  We are partnering on mission with an event called The Gathering by supplying them paints and paint brushes for the big event next week-  this is an event where children and students come together from Dalton, Ringgold, and Chattanooga, for a night of worship.  They promote unity to be a generation united for Christ.  Good job Derek and Dillon!

It Can Be Overwhelming

As we get rolling here on the ground, oftentimes I find panic setting in.   You can feel like you have to get a pace cranking that is faster than a speeding bullet.  When I was not yet on the field, I had a nice and respectable pace that I enjoyed and I realize that I must re-connect my mind to that line of thinking simply because “God builds the church,” and Shane doesn’t.  The mind is so powerful, for the good and the bad.  We literally have to control and tell our thoughts what to do.  God never had in mind, a self-propelled way of life.  We have a choice of how we think.  I have found this discipline to work for me many times. 

I get into a good groove and think right, but every now and then, the enemy sows an attack on my thought life that paralyzes me, and causes me to regress into discouragement or depression, saying, “Shane, you can’t do it, it’s too tough, you don’t have the staffing, the funding, the know-how.”  I’ve heard it said that if you change your mind, you change your life. 

We’re not God!  We are all on the starting team in His kingdom, no doubt, but His plan is being worked out for us, and if we are listening quietly, obeying, available to move to the left and right at any moment, God will give peace.  I think it’s when we lock in on something that we feel is permanent that God begins to unveil a lack of rest and lack of peace.  Reason being: He knows ALL things and we don’t.  Therefore, we don’t know our chapters and seasons like He does and we should never be unavailable to do ANYTHING for Him at any moment. 

Here’s a thought:  Don’t (I’m speaking to me too) have more expectation and standard for your ministry and life than God does!  No more-no less.

God’s will is God’s work;  Go to the next best place He has for you!  Add value to somebody every day of your life.  Practice the art of “Thank You” power.  It works!

Westridge Church Planting School

We officially started attending this 5 month school this past Saturday.  Brian Bloye is pastor and Jim Akins leads the school.  It is fabulous stuff!  It has all the nuts and bolts a planter needs to make it happen.  Additionally, God is all over these guys!  Some great statements:

  • You need 100 names of people praying for you.
  • When you get down and discouraged, this is the time you will be hit with your besetting sin.
  • Never respond to personal attacks.
  • People like choices-  It takes all kinds of churches to do different types of ministries in different areas of a town.
  • If you’re here to start a church for Christians, you’re in the wrong place.
  • If your church shut down today, would your town miss you?
  • Church Planting is one of the greatest adventures that a pastor will ever undertake.
  • Church Planting is an adventure that will keep your prayer life up to date, challenge your faith, and give you the most exhilirating feeling imaginable.
  • Sometimes the most dangerous place to be is in the center of God’s will.   -Erwin McManus
  • This whole county belongs to God.  Don’t be afraid to start another church in your community. 
  • Celebrate with everybody.
  • Church Planting is Kingdom work.
  • Ranchers take new territorty (church planters); Shepherds take care of the flock (pastoring established churches).
  • Our job is surrender.
  • I believe if you’re church planting, you are doing the will of God, if, you are walking with God.
  • Church Planting is the most rewarding thing God could call you to do.
  • Church Planting is the best evangelistic strategy known to man.  -Peter Wagner
  • Church Planting was the New Testament strategy for fulfilling the Great Commission.
  • No county in America has more Christians today than it did a decade ago.  (Wowww!)

Stuff Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Some of the things God seems to be doing becomes astounding:

  1. Met with a Grant-Writer; amazing charisma.
  2. Hung out with our band leader and dreamed a little about our music, people we both know, and the future.
  3. Planned our first launch team meeting for next Wednesday night.  You’re all invited!
  4. Working on securing our Service Programmer Team leader, from the distance if need be.
  5. We begin Westridge School of Church Planting on Saturday.  Taking 5 of our team.
  6. We will take our team to Northpoint Sunday to view the environments and experience.
  7. Finding out that so many people we know are out of church, looking for a church, or just don’t like church.  The reasoning for being here is becoming clearer and clearer.
  8. God gave me a great word yesterday.  Check this out from my friend, Ben Arment.
  9. Loving the environment of Chattanooga, The Tennessee River, minor league baseball, and good restaurants on the water.
  10. Need more staff: Family Ministries, Volunteers, Small Groups, Students, Children.  If you love reaching unreached, disconnected people and “get it,” then let us know of your interest.  Our hope would be that you have some experience and understanding of creating irresistible environments for people who don’t go to church.  We’re not launching this for church people, but for people who don’t go.  

500 Acts To Complete

It’s been said that to plant a church, there are over 500 acts that must take place before LAUNCH.  We are working feverishly to knock these out one by one.  Here are some of the ones we have already completed:

  • Select Church Location
  • Select Church Planter
  • Lay groundwork for partnerships and support
  • Begin self study/reading materials
  • Contact other church planters
  • Determine target fundraising goal
  • More reading resources
  • Determine church planting approach
  • Obtain P.O. Box
  • Select Church Name
  • Prepare Articles of Incorporation
  • Prepare Federal Identification Number filing
  • Obtain Federal Identification Number
  • Establish Church Checking Account
  • Select initial key word web name
  • Purchase initial key word web name
  • Issue preliminary on-line checklist
  • Select and purchase domain name based on church name
  • Develop customized launch plan actions
  • Develop written expectations for launch team
  • Identify and recruit first 10 launch team members
  • Recruit first 10 prayer partners
  • Obtain church computer
  • Establish internet access
  • Plan downtime for move
  • Church planter moves onsite
  • Obtain demographic information
  • Visit target area
  • Define initial target area
  • Define initial ‘Average Target Family’
  • Vision/Values/Beliefs Write-up
  • Review and understand Alignment Model
  • Develop Church purpose
  • Develop Church beliefs
  • Develop Church values
  • Adopt team/structure philosophy
  • Develop member expectations
  • Develop list of possible community contacts
  • Prepare list of all possible meeting places
  • Attempt to meet with each facility contact
  • Generate list of promising meeting locations
  • Confirm number of worship services
  • Initial worship band formed