Monday, June 6, 2011



It is my firm conviction that the best people to start churches are ordinary Christians, with no special religious training, who are bold in their witness, indigenous to their target group
 and spends a lot time with Jesus! 


These are the kind of men that Jesus chose to be His disciples and to become His apostles.  These are the kind of people that God has used throughout the centuries to spread the Kingdom of God.  These are the individuals that God used in Southern Baptist life to start churches that caused them to become the largest protestant denomination in North America.  These are the kind of men that God used in the 70's during the Jesus Movement  to start some of the largest churches we have today in North America.  And this is the kind of person that God is still choosing to use that will ignite a new church planting movement throughout North America at this very hour!


In cooperation with what I see God doing I write this blog series.  This is a blog NOT for:
  • the trained professional ministers who have spent countless hours in study and preparation to do the work of ministry from some seminary or Bible college, 
  • or the Christian who is looking for some nice devotional material on missions to meditate upon,
  • or the academic theologian who wishes to debate the theological implications of church planting!
No!  This is for those ordinary Follower of Christ who is sensing God's leadership to become actively involved in His mission by starting a new church.  This series of blogs is intended to encourage the People of God  to have the faith that God can do anything, through anybody, including them, and even if that means starting a new church.  I am writing this blog to take away the mystery and mystic surrounding church planting.


It is my prayer that two things will develop as a result of these blogs:
  1. First that you the ordinary Follower of Christ and others just like you all over North America will begin to sense God's leadership in starting a new church and that an army of  ordinary church planters will be raised up, trained up and unleashed into the church planting fields of North America.
  2. Second, that this army of ordinary christian church planters will ignite Church Planting Movements throughout the urban centers of North America unlike the world has ever seen before.
So before I get started in writing the other blogs, that actually give more of the "how to's" of church planting, I need to share what I mean by a church planter.  I do not believe that the term Church Planter is necessarily synonymous with Pastor or Elder.  There have been many people who have started churches that were not pastors nor every became a pastor.  A church planter is one who knows how to reach people for Christ and gather them together to form a body of believers under the Lordship of Christ.  That doesn't mean they are the one who will sit down and deliver a sermon or teach a Bible lesson.  So regardless of your personal theological position of women pastors or women in ministry a woman could be a church planter.  There have been many great churches started by some amazing and ordinary pioneer women who never preached a single sermon from a pulpit or a taught Bible lesson to a man.  These churches later would called a pastor to come shepherd them.  I personally am very conservative in my theological view points in this matter but I have no problem whatsoever when it comes to women starting/planting churches.  So quite literally this blog series is for all people who claim to have faith in Jesus Christ and a growing, vibrant relationship with Him.

So let's see if you could be part of this new breed of church planters that God is raising up in North America.  Answer yourself the following questions:
  1. Have you personally, by faith, repented from your sins, believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins, raised back to life three days later and confess Jesus to be the Lord of your life?
  2. Do you have a vibrant and growing relationship with Jesus where Christ is living His life through you and you are resting in His completed work in you?
  3. Do you believe that God can do anything, through anybody, including you?
  4. Are you passionate about actively participating in Christ's mission of discipling the nations (every ethnic group)?
  5. Are you willing to go whereever Christ leads and to whomever He leads even if they are pretty undesirable people?
  6. Are you willing to gather these people into your home for Bible Study, worship and prayer?
  7. And finally, are you teachable, faithful and humble?
If you can answer "YES" to these questions congratulations!

If you are willing to come with me on this journey in starting a new church I would ask you to commit to a few things:
  • First at the end of this initial blog leave a comment that says, "I'M IN!" With your name and place where you live.  I ask this because I wanting to pray for you along with my DREAM TEAM/PRAYER WARRIORS as you plant this new church.  Having people committed to praying for you in this spiritual endeavor is absolutely essential.  I have over 300 people who are committed to praying for me as I start a new church in Tucson, AZ called The Fellowship Of The Cross and for Church Planting Movements throughout North America.  So please leave that information.
  • You will have ASSIGNMENTS to complete.  Each new blog will build off the previous blog so it is essential that you complete each assignment.  Please don't try to skip an assignment and just move on.  To do so is a plan to fail.  You will be asked to share what you did in your assignment as a "COMMENT" at the end of each post.
  • Daily pray for all those who say, "I'M IN" because we are going to become a FELLOWSHIP OF CHURCH PLANTERS storming the gates of hell and we will need the encouragement that each of us can provide.
So here it goes, that competitive part of my nature is coming out in me! 
How many of you will accept the challenge of starting a new church this next year?  


If you accept the challenge you will be utterly amazed what God will do through you!!  Here we go!  The journey has now begun!


Thursday, June 2, 2011

THE NEW BREED OF CHURCH PLANTERS: Part 5: They're Indigenous

My first four posts on this blog series were about the New Breed Of Church Planters that God is raising up in North America and dealt specifically with the characteristics that were identified with Peter and John as they stood before the Jewish council giving an account for their witness and preaching of Jesus' resurrection.  They were found to be bold, ordinary, uneducated men who had spent time with Jesus.  I think that no one would disagree that these two apostles were pretty effective in their endeavors as church planters.  But in this final post and as I talk about the fifth characteristic of the New Breed of
Church Planters I draw my conclusions from my own personal observations of being a church planter and mentoring church planters.

When wanting to start a new church in a particular area it has been a common practice among many denominations and in particular my denomination (Southern Baptist) to look far and wide to find that perfect church planter.  Many times these church planters are brought in from states different from the place where the new church is being planted.  The group that is calling this new church planter then spends money relocating them, getting them set up, and providing start up equipment and this is in addition to the time and money that has already been spent searching for this new church planter.

In other words a huge financial expense has been invested and the expectations for success are enormous.  Sadly to say, a large percentage of these church planters just don't pan out.  They're on the field for a few years, three to five, and then they are heading back home, wherever that might be.

There are two major reasons why these relocated church planters have not panned out.  The first is due to their outside financial support running out and the new church is not yet strong enough financially to support themselves.  When starting a new church denominational leaders have an expectation that over a  period of a few years the new church will be able to be financially self-supporting. This time period, ironically, is the same time period in which church planters usually leave to go back home, it is a three to five year period.  What happens is that the church planter and his family are then faced with the decision to either look for another job in addition to pastoring the church or take the experience gained from starting the new church and going back home to pastor a more established church that is able to support them.

The second reason is more sociological than financial.  There are many cultural differences throughout the North American landscape and taking a person/family from one culture and placing them in a different culture and still expecting them to thrive can be a tall order if they have not been adequately trained.  What happens over time when the newness and romance of the new location and church wears off, is that the internal calling of "HOME" keeps getting louder and louder.  Memories of family and cultural traditions keep tugging at the heart.  Over time this tugging keeps getting stronger and stronger. Sometimes it's not even an internal calling but a real and physical calling of family members back home asking if they are planning to come home soon.  Some people will say that the solution is to do an even better job of interviewing or to do a better job of preparing the church planting family for cross cultural ministry.


Most people are not spiritually gifted for cross-cultural ministry.  Moving a church planter from one part of the United States to another, regardless if he is reaching out to people who are of the same ethnic group, he will encounter a huge cultural divide.  The solution is not to tweak this ineffective strategy - the solution is to scrap it and establish a more effective and, I believe, Biblical one.


A church planting professor of mine always said, "The resources are in the harvest!"  Whether it be financial resources or ministry personnel, resources can always be found in the harvest of new souls being reached for Christ.  I most certainly believe that is also true when it comes to finding the perfect church planters to start the large number of new churches that we need in North America.


The rising new breed of church planters are those people who have been born and raised in, and are part of the targeted community.  They are truly the absolute best candidates for being successful as a church planter.  This is true for a few reasons:

  • Indigenous Church Planters Don't Have To Exegete the Community They Are The Community. Indigenous church planters instinctively know what will work and what will fail.  This hasn't been learned by books or studies.  They understand it because they understand the values of the community intrinsically.  
  • Indigenous Church Planters Won't Get Homesick Because They Are Already Home.  Indigenous church planters already have a network of family, friends and business associates well established. Family members won't be pulling on the emotional heartstrings because the family members only live a few miles away.
  • Indigenous Church Planters Don't Need Financial Support Because God Has Already Provided That Support Within The Community.  This rising new breed of church planters, for the most part, already have the financial support they need.  For many, their spouses are the primary bread winners, or the church planter has another source of income, and some are able to work a full time job as well as start a church.

In Luke 10:1-24 Jesus is sending out the 72 into every town and village he is about to go.  After appointing the 72 Jesus said this to them:

"The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.  Therefore, pray earnestly to the 
Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest."  (v. 2)

Then Jesus teamed them up two by two and gave them some very specific instructions. Part of those instructions were:

"Whatever house you enter, first say, "Peace be to this house!' And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him.  But if not, it will return to you.  And remain  in the same house, 
eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go 
from house to house." (v. 5-7)

It is my personal belief that the finding of this "Person Of Peace" is the answer to the prayer that Jesus instructed the 72 to pray in regards to finding more laborers in His fields.  Truly this is finding the church planter resource from within the harvest.

So let me offer this suggestion to denominations on a new strategic direction for 
church planting in North America:

  1. Hire a few people with the spiritual giftedness for cross-cultural ministry to be, not church planters, but to be what the International Mission Board calls Strategy Coordinators.  The Strategy Coordinators job would be to develop a strategy for raising up indigenous and ordinary Christians as church planters in their particular people group or geographical area.
  2. Create a discipleship/mentoring process for training these indigenous church planters.
  3. Unleash these church planters and try not to control them.  Don't bottleneck the movement of God with a bunch unnecessary rules and regulations.
  4. Don't pay these indigenous church planters a salary.  Since they are indigenous they have already established their financial resources.
  5. Do provide resources for culturally relevant evangelism/outreach and discipleship events and materials.
God is raising up a new breed of church planters.  Some may feel a sense of excitement and anticipation with their arrival.  Others may hate it and wish it wasn't so.  Whether you like it or hate it God is bringing it about.  You can either hop on the train and join it or move out of the way and get left behind but one thing is for sure you won't stop it.  I for one am only filled with gratitude and thankfulness for this new fresh wind and this new breed of church planters.  


Thursday, January 27, 2011


For church planters to be effective there needs to be something about them that is radically different from the rest of the world.  Their values, ambitions, and goals need to be peculiarly odd to the rest of the world.  This kind of difference only comes from the time spent hanging out with one who embodies those particular peculiarities.  Values are more caught than taught!  People become like the people they spend the bulk of their time with.  If you hangout with people who value money more than anything else you are more likely to become a person who values money more than anything else.  If the majority of your time is spent with people who are bigots and prejudice then there is a pretty good chance that you will become a prejudiced bigot.  So for a church planter to be spiritually peculiarly odd to the world around them they need to have spent a significant amount of time hanging out with someone who is spiritually peculiarly odd!  So where does a church planter find such an association?  We find the answer again with the Apostle Peter and John as they are standing in front of the Jewish leaders being ordered not preach or teach in the name of Jesus.

"When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

One of the characteristics of Peter and John that caught the eye and attention of the Jewish leaders was that they had spent time with Jesus.  Now the most probable interpretation of this passage was that they recognized them as ones who had been with Jesus because they had seen them with Jesus teaching at the Temple or at one of the many parties that they had attended with Jesus.  It's probably not the best interpretation to say that this passage is referring to some lifestyle that the disciples were exhibiting that was intrinsically Christ-like that caught the attention of the Jewish leaders though that was probably true about them.  Instead, it is more accurate to say that the Jewish leaders were amazed that these disciples were not trying to hide themselves or deny the fact that they were followers of Christ.  Their conduct and speech were blatantly unapologetic that they were Christ's followers inspite of the fact that Jesus not much earlier had been executed.  The question that these Jewish leaders must have been asking themselves was, "Why would anyone wish to be associated with a convicted and executed criminal?"  Peter and John made no attempt to hide their association with Christ. It was an easy conclusion for the Jewish leaders to arrive at.  Anyone listening to them teach would quickly recognize that association.

The church planters that God is raising up today make no apologies for the fact that they are fully devoted followers of Jesus.  It's not hard for the people who come into contact with them to quickly discover that they are Christians and that they follow the way of Jesus.  It's not because these church planters dress differently from other people or that they speak with some special vocabulary that reveals it.  No, the fact is that most of these new church planters look very much like everyone else and their vocabulary is pretty ordinary as well.  It's not the choice of words that makes the distinction but it's content of their message.  The message of these new church planters is strictly Christ centered.  These church planters make no attempts to hide the fact that they follow Jesus.  It is clear to all who get to know them that Jesus Christ is their highest value.

These new church planters aren't trying to sneak in the name of Jesus or covertly  attract the unchurched by promising them special worldly things.  That might work well for a marketing campaign for secular businesses but that is not the message from this new breed of church planters.  No, these church planters understand that their mission is not to build a crowd but to make disciples of Jesus and how one chooses to pursue that mission will greatly affect the outcome.  These church planters understand that just because you can build a crowd doesn't mean you have made disciples who love Jesus more than anyone or anything else.  They know that just because you have people flocking to your church facility doesn't mean that these people are willing to sacrifice their lives in obedient service to Christ.  So instead of thinking up gimmicks that will attract a larger crowd or even satisfy the insatiable carnal appetite for a religious high this new breed of church planter preaches Jesus Christ crucified, raised from the dead and coming again to judge both the living and the dead.  They preach that the way to find your life is to first lose your life for Christ.  They are teaching that in order to experience true freedom from sin you must first offer yourself as a slave to Christ.  When this new breed of church planters speak there is no doubt that they have been with Christ, they love Christ and they have forsaken everything to follow Christ!  And because of this clear and close association with Christ the world looks at them as being peculiarly odd.

But it is the peculiar oddness that seems to be attractive to some who wish to know the truth.  It is both the sense of these church planters being in the world but yet in many ways not of the world that intrigue many lost people.  It is the fact that these church planters might look like everyone else, sound like everyone else and in many ways enjoy the same things as everyone else but yet have a totally different value system that causes the unchurched to stand up and take notice.  The world looks at the church planters sees the difference and also clearly, powerfully and unapologetically hears that the difference is JESUS. For many this verbal and lifestyle message of Jesus is like honey to a bee.  For this rising breed of new church planters making sure the message of Jesus Christ is clearly heard in all that is said and done is of paramount importance. This new breed of church planter instinctively knows that the world will have nothing to do with the church if the church is no different from the world.  These church planters also know that the world's first contact with Christ quite possibly is  through them.