Wednesday, January 23, 2013

11 Keys for Church Planters from Bill Hybels

bill hybels on church plantingTodd Rhoades presents an interview on his site with Bill Hybels conducted for the Exponential Conference this spring.  Their conversation centers on church planters and what Hybels might do differently if he were to plant today.  I recommend reading the full article to make sense of his thoughts, but I've encapsulated Hybels' key points below.
  1. Start with a white-hot, differentiated, compelling vision.
  2. Present that vision to close, trusted friends.
  3. Make the judgment about how “full on” your start can be, based on available funding.
  4. Vet and test leaders rigorously before putting them in key positions.
  5. Do two breakfasts, two lunches, and two dinners every week with people outside your circle.
  6. Locate where the demographics call the best out of you.
  7. The more a young church can get done through volunteers, the better.
  8. Stretch people's understanding of the whole narrative of Scripture.
  9. God will give you your own "second conversion".
  10. Lean into whatever works to re-fire a passion for Jesus.
 In my personal opinion, I love his first two.  He starts to lose me on the third, mostly because he's planting with a mega-church mentality.  Does it require a ton of capital to plant a church?  If you're renting a facility, putting together programming, planning events, and hosting committee meetings all the time, I'd say it does.  But if you're starting with a circle of friends, making time you don't have to reach your neighborhood, and keeping it simple, I think you could bootstrap it.

What do you think?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Top 10 Resolutions for 2013

The world didn't end in 2012, so you've decided to make resolutions for the additional years the Mayans didn't count on.  Most Americans will resolve to improve their health and wellness, better their finances, and spend more time with family - all great objectives.

Despite my own distaste for pop culture resolutions, I can't escape the wisdom of learning from the past and committing to new goals for the future.  Jonathan Edwards, the famous American theologian, penned 70 resolutions before age 20.  So, I thought I could come up with a few for 2013.
  1. Commit to a daily devotional time of prayer and Scripture reading.  Having our first little one (and now another on the way) threw me for a loop in 2012.  My heart and mind must be centered on Christ each and every day or my ship gets tossed around quickly.  I now make this time sacred and have a plan for doing it daily.
  2. Develop a family mission statement.  Companies have mission statements for a reason.  We need a singular guiding purpose to enable us to reach our highest potential.  My wife and I talked and prayed a lot about ours.  I used a Franklin Covey tool for a few ideas.  Then we distilled it to one sentence we could commit to memory and use as a filter for our commitments.
  3. Build my new business into our primary source of income.  Last year I launched a new fitness business.  I saw the potential but divided my time among a few other pursuits.  As you might imagine, I saw limited growth on all fronts.  This year I'm committing to this one endeavor and developing a plan to scale up.
Three was enough.  Edwards was much higher capacity than me.  But these attainable, measurable goals will help me hold myself accountable.  God knows I need accountability.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Tim Keller Releases Book On Church and Movements

In Center Church, famed theologian Timothy Keller draws on over twenty years of ministry in New York City to offer insight into building a ministry on the right foundation. This book outlines a theological vision for ministry—based on classic doctrines but rethinking our assumptions about church for our time and place—organized around three core commitments.

The book is available for pre-order.  Here is some advance praise:

We don’t need another "do ministry like my church does ministry" book. Nor do we need another book that critiques other church models. We need a book that helps us think critically and biblically as we structure our churches. Center Church is packed with Tim Keller’s experience, humility, and wisdom. This book will help you if you are serious about seeing your city transformed by the gospel of grace.
- Darrin Patrick, Vice President of the Acts 29 Network

This outstanding book, like the Manhattan ministry out of which it has come, shows how Reformed theological acumen and wise pastoral intelligence may combine to achieve spiritual fruitfulness in urban contexts everywhere. Every page illuminates. Keller is a huge gift to today’s church.
- J. I. Packer, Professor of Theology at Regent College

Center Church is not only a doctrinally rigorous and socially perceptive explanation of a sustained and remarkable work of God in Manhattan but also a hugely important, original, and timely call to mission that is appropriately contextualized for contemporary urban culture. We need to carefully learn from these principles if we are to reach our cities for Christ”
- Richard Coekin, Director of Co-Mission church planting network, London

In Center Church, one of the great missionary statesmen of our times lays out a vision of the church vigorous enough to transform entire cities through its agency of the gospel. Tim is a gifted teacher, an outstanding leader, and an exemplary disciple of Jesus. A worthy read!
- Alan Hirsch, Founding Director of Forge Mission Training Network

Sunday, August 05, 2012

3 Reasons Why Romney's Culture Remarks Hit

Mitt Romney made a daring declaration during his trip abroad, suggesting cultural differences play a major role in the disparity between the economic conditions of Israel and Palestine.  What a rarity for a leader to make such a declaration on an international stage.  Was it insightful or ignorant?  He later backed up his comments with an opinion piece.  Three reasons why I think Romney hit the nail on the head:
  1. Circumstances do not predict outcomes.  If they did we wouldn't have such heroic stories in our culture of African Americans overcoming racism and prejudice, and women gaining rights and mutual respect, just to name a few.  Their circumstances demanded submission to a less dignified life, but the culture they created overcame.  Does the same hold true for an entire nation facing tight security measures from another nation?  As Romney notes, the value and culture of freedom is easily seen in examinations of East and West Germany or North and South Korea.
  2. Different choices reap different outcomes.  That may seem as obvious as calling the sky blue.  But the New York Times would rather you believe Israelis and Palestinians are about as similar as you and your brother, and if not for the security restrictions imposed by Israel, would be on equal ground economically.  But Palestinians and Israelis have vastly different worldviews, as Marc Thiessen points out in his article in The Washington Post.  According to the Pew Global Attitudes Project, 68 percent of Palestinian Muslims support suicide bombing, in contrast to Pakistan, where only 5 percent support it.  Attitude is everything.
  3. To change a culture is a hard-fought battle.  The task Palestinians face is a difficult one.  Culture is complex and will take a concerted effort to shift.  In Lawrence Harrison's well-researched book, Underdevelopment Is a State of Mind, he calls for different approaches to child-rearing.  It's not simple, but if Palestinians really desire economic freedom and a departure from radical violence (which is yet to be seen as noted in the Pew study), it can happen in a generation.
The liberal view of underdevelopment has always shifted blame elsewhere.  Rather than examine one's own worldview, attitude, and behavior, it's always easier to point the finger somewhere else.  The problem exists nationally and individually and will never go away.  But the sooner we can recognize the problem, the sooner we can develop the solution.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Britain's Olympic Broadcaster Refuses to Recognize Israel's Capital

The fight for Jerusalem takes a new turn in the media.  Apparently the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) would like to give Israel's capital to the Palestinians.  Although the U.S. and the U.N. have recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel for decades, the BBC seems intent on doing otherwise, even at the outrage of the Israeli Prime Minister.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Christmas Moved to June - Scientists Confirm

After seeing a presentation over ten years ago on the birth of Christ and the astronomical event know as "The Star of Bethlehem", Christmas has never been the same for me.  Rick Larson, an intellectual property lawyer and stargazer, began a research project at the prodding of his daughter.  His research of the night sky over two thousand years ago led to the discovery of the actual dates surrounding Jesus' birth.

Mr. Larson's presentation has been viewed the world over, including by top scientists at NASA.  And all evidence suggests he nailed it.  Jesus wasn't born on December 25th but most likely on June 17th.  So, happy birthday Jesus!

More recent studies have confirmed this date in 2BC as the time when Venus (the Mother Planet) and Jupiter (the King Planet) came close enough to create one of the brightest stars the world had ever seen, leading the wise men to saddle up the camels and seek out the Savior.  This astronomical event was so significant it's shown in planetariums today.

So what about December 25th?  Many say early Christians chose the date to overshadow a pagan festival.  But astronomy points to that date as the time when Jupiter appeared to "stop" in the night sky, an event astronomers refer to as retrograde motion and one which lead the magi straight to the infant King.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

10 Ways A Good Samaritan Changed My Life

What does that mean?  The Good Samaritan has become extraordinarily familiar to our culture.  The phrase has become a colloquialism to describe anyone who offers aid to another.  In fact, you can find the name Samaritan utilized in everything from tire shops to health care organizations.  But what was Jesus' original intent in talking about this Samaritan we seem to know so well?  Understanding the following has changed my everyday life.

  1. You're going to get robbed, stripped, and beaten in life.  Sometimes you'll feel like you're living half dead.  That's a universal truth.  It doesn't matter your race, creed, or gender.
  2. If nobody comes to your aid, your journey will progress from half dead to fully dead.  You need to expose yourself to someone who will help.  But expect some people, and very "good" people who know how they should respond, to pass you by.
  3. Most people (yes, most people) would rather pass by than help.  It has nothing to do with the person in need.  It has everything to do with the person passing by.
  4. Take the time to "see" people.  If you can't see them, you won't feel compassion, and you'll join the crowd of people passing by.
  5. Let compassion move you to action.
  6. Living out Jesus' values, the values of the kingdom, will cost you - time, money, energy, and more time.  The allocation of the irreplaceable commodity of time reveals your highest priorities.  Life with Jesus demands prioritizing people.
  7. Prioritizing people will always mean interruptions.  You really like your plans, I know.  That's OK.  Learn to like interruptions even more.
  8. The Samaritan initiates.  The half dead person shouldn't have to crawl over to your feet. 
  9. Your neighbor is whoever you see.  And if you prioritize people, you should see them a lot.
  10. Loving your neighbor doesn't mean just helping people - it means restoring them.  And that takes more than one person.  The Samaritan didn't do it all himself.  He used the resources of the innkeeper.  Restoration only happens in community.
In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis writes:
"Do not waste your time bothering whether you 'love' your neighbor, act as if you did.  As soon as we do this, we find one of the great secrets.  When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.  If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more.  If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less."